Featured Post

WBFFA: The Most Awesome Words Of Wisdom You’ll Hear Today

Haven’t posted a Weekend Blog Free For All in a while. It’s because I’ve been too busy getting old. The WBFFA is my chance to take a break from the regular blogs I do. For that matter, I haven’t been blogging much either. I’ve been taking classes trying to get smarter. Good...

Read More

Peanut Butter, Bacon, and Loving Those Who Hate You

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in compassion, forgiveness, love, peanut butter | Posted on 29-07-2013

2

lovenemiesIt is not easy loving people or even praying for those who persecute you or hate you. But that’s exactly what Jesus said to do in Matthew 5:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

That’s one of those sections of Scripture where I kinda mumble under my breath, “Thanks, Jesus.” After I fell from ministry, I felt like I had a line a mile long of people who were waiting to hate me. I earned it, but years later, a lot of them are still in line. A lot of you probably feel the same way. You may work with someone who just doesn’t like you or seems to have it out for you for whatever reason. But there is Jesus, telling us to love them.

I guess he could say it too. He loved those who put him on a cross.

So, let me change gears and dumb this down for a moment so even I can understand it.

I loooooooove peanut butter. I think it’s the greatest thing in the world. Some would disagree and say that it’s bacon. I’ve peanutbwritten about my own opinion on the matter, so we can leave that argument elsewhere. I’m writing about peanut butter today. If you love bacon more, then think about bacon when I say peanut butter.

Now, there are a ton of different brands of peanut butter. JIF, Peter Pan, Kroger brand, Skippy, whatever. There are also different types of these brands: smooth, crunchy, extra crunchy and the au natural that has the oil on top that you have to mix (nasty).

However, if you set a jar of peanut butter down in front of me, I would eat it. It might not be my favorite, but I would never declare it “inedible.” It would still be better than eating cake. That’s how much I love peanut butter.

Jesus said, “pray for those who persecute you.” It’s almost like he’ s saying, “Look, Christian. All those people in the world are like peanut butter to me and they all taste the same. I love every brand and every flavor. But you, in your imperfection make distinctions. So if you can’t love them like I do, start praying for them. They’re still peanut butter.”

Now this scenario may seem a little infantile or silly to you, but it works for me. I just view everyone I meet as peanut butter. I don’t hate anyone because they’re all a wonderful work of God. I may like some less, but they’re still an awesome jar of peanut butter. If there’s a problem with taste, it’s my problem and something I have to work through. Over the years, I’ve learned that in the end, some people think I’m the jar of nasty, oily peanut butter. But over time, God changes pblovetheir heart toward me. And vice versa.

We’re all just a bunch of people who need understanding, compassion and love. Treating each other with hostility, unforgiveness, harshness or hatred will get us nowhere. However, when we treat one another like a 64 ounce jar of amazingly fresh JIF, then we will be making progress.

Still don’t get it? Then go ahead. Go back and read it again with bacon instead of peanut butter.

__________________

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.

WBFFA: The Kind Of Man I Want My Daughters To Marry

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in love, WBFFA, youtube | Posted on 09-06-2013

1

Way before I started fallenpastor.com, I used to have a blog. It was called The Cornblog. I know, nice, right?ffa

Since I started this blog almost four years ago, I’ve blogged mostly about issues dealing with fallen pastors and how the culture is impacted.

Well, I’ve decided to get greedy with my weekends and start freelancing them. It’s going to be called “Weekend Blog Free For All” or, WBFFA. Catchy? Nope. But on weekends I choose, I’m going to blog about whatever I want that has nothing to do with fallenness, pastoral issues, the church, theology, or the other copious things I write about.

I’m doing thing because I had a recent post about a certain “Wagon Wheel,” that has created a lot of attention.

Tonight I had a discussion with my oldest daughter about how she would know who was the right man for her. I grabbed her iPhone and downloaded the song, “One,” by U2. We listened to it together and talked about the lyrics.

I told her that in the song, Bono was singing about a woman who demanded more from him than a mere relationship. She wanted him to go higher than love. To a metaphorical temple and crawl on his knees for him.

I said to her, “If a guy ever says, ‘If you really loved me, you would ______________.’ Or, ‘If you really cared for me, you would show it by ______________.'”

That’s not love, that’s manipulation. That is asking for more than love, that is asking for someone to crawl on their hands and knees to a temple higher than love. She understood. I told her that she should be loved just for who she is. For her qualities. For her person. For the woman she is. No one should demand more from her. She should be love for her inner beauty.

Bono sings about this – “did I ask too much, more than a lot? You asked me nothing, now it’s all I got.” Then, “Have you come here for forgiveness, have you come to raise the dead? Have you come here to play Jesus? To the lepers in your head?” If any of us are asked to be someone we are not in a relationship, then we should be wary. 99% of people never change. And anyone who asks us to change for them is probably not going to change themselves.

I told my sweet daughter to make sure she finds someone who loves her for who she is. But isn’t that the case for all of us? And who is it that loves us for who we are in this world? Our parents typically do, but many of you have stories where your parents don’t.

Only one truly loves us unconditionally. Christ. And if you think he doesn’t, your view is wrong. He loves you for who you are, sins and all. He just wants you as you are. He wants your obedience and to drop it all and follow Him.

The song resonates the same word, over and over – One. That we would all be One. Understanding love the same. Understanding one another the same. Not placing our expectations of one another up high, but knowing that all of us are broken.

Maybe then, we could achieve an understanding of where we are supposed to be. Maybe the, we would understand compassion and love as it is meant to be.

By the way, Johnny Cash has a great cover of this song too:

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you
Now you got someone to blame

You say
One love
One life
When it’s one need
In the night
It’s one love
We get to share it
It leaves you baby
If you don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without

Well it’s too late
Tonight
To drag the past out
Into the light
We’re one
But we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other
One

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head
Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it’s all I got
We’re one
But we’re not the same
We hurt each other
Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you made me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers

One life
But we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other

One

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

6

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:

The Pathetic Power of Unforgiveness: When “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Enough, Pt. 3

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Christ, community, compassion, conflict, cross, fallenness, forgiveness, grace, love, mercy, reconciliation, relationships, restoration | Posted on 18-03-2013

1

When we mess up and need forgiveness, one of the most frustrating things can be when people withhold that forgiveness. I’ve tried to outline some lewisreasons people do that, but today I want to get into one of the really nasty things that can happen after someone grants a sort of half-hearted forgiveness.

You know what I’m talking about. You’ve sinned against someone and you ask their forgiveness, but when they grant it, the forgiveness only becomes a way to keep you down. They constantly remind you of your former sin, beating you over the head with it. Or, worse, they sarcastically or subtly bring it up at an opportune time to give them a perceived upper hand.

That’s not forgiveness. And I hope that goes without saying. If someone is holding that kind of “forgiveness” over you, it’s not love, grace or kindness. It’s a power trip. And the best thing you can do is simply say, “I realize you haven’t forgiven me for the sin I’ve committed. I’ve been forgiven by God. I hope one day we can talk again about this and you can forgive me. Please let me know when we can discuss it further.

Don’t let people hold your sin that God has forgiven you for over your head. And don’t do it to yourself either. The sin is over with and done. Will consequences still be meted out in real life for it? Sure. But there does come a time for grace and understanding. Move on. If others can’t move along with you, be patient with them.

So why do people do this? In my last blog, I gave reasons people don’t forgive. So why do people act like they forgive then drag up our sin before us in a humiliating way?

For some, it seems like a way to exercise power over another. It’s like standing there and saying, “Remember what you did? I can keep you right where I want you because I know what you did.” Guess what kills that? Public confession. When everyone knows what you did, no one person has power over you.

For others, and most of us, we feel better about our own sin when we can compare ourselves to others. When some one else commits a sin, we can always say, “Well, at least I didn’t do that.” I have a happy little theory that many people enjoy crime and reality TV because we like to know that there are people in the world worse than us. But guess what squashes this line of thinking? The ultimate righteousness of God. None of us is as good as Him. And the only one who can meet that standard is Christ.

fcrossNone of us is any better than the other. In fact, we are all great at sinning. Only by the grace of Christ are we all equal. All ground is level at the foot of the cross.

Forgiveness is so awesome. And it took a fall from ministry for me to grasp it fully. It’s so awesome because it brings us to a place where we don’t have to be ashamed. We don’t have to look down on another or feel beholden to anyone else in this world. We don’t have to walk through Wal-Mart with out head down. We don’t have to worry about what others say about us because our best friend, Jesus Christ, loves us no matter what.

And guess what? If Jesus is their best friend too, they shouldn’t care about it either. They’ll treat us like a brother or sister and we’ll eventually get it all figured out.

Forgiveness isn’t the easiest thing, but when it’s accomplished, it’s one of the greatest things.

__________________

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.

My Wife, “Fallen Pastor’s Wife” & Her Ministry

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, Allison, blog, love, marriage | Posted on 14-03-2013

5

Allison is my sweet wife of three years. We have both tread the path of holiness since our fall, trying to do what is right. Are we always perfect? Nope. But we are here to serve those who fall.

A while back she started a blog. It’s been inactive a while, but today, she wrote again, to tell our story.

If you are “the other woman,” or someone who just wants to understand, just follow this link. She wants to share her heart. Thanks. 

Southern Baptists, Sanctity of Life, and Rape in India

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in current events, love, missions, southern baptist | Posted on 22-01-2013

2

irOver the past few days, I’ve been monitoring the stories in India of the rape of women there.

It is a horrible scene. Apparently for years, women have been raped and their crimes have been covered up by the police.

One story states, “in India rape has long been depressingly common.” The story has gotten some attention stateside, but in my opinion, not enough.

Recently, a woman was brutalized horrifically. Her story was somewhat ignored until the press picked it up. Her story is tragic. Awful. Horrible.

Southern Baptists love to speak about the “sanctity of life” as it is conceived in the womb. We love to protect the life as it is conceived at conception.

In India, it seems that women are being victimized for being women. It has apparently been going on for years.

Check out this quote from a CNN article:

The UN’s human-rights chief calls rape in India a “national problem”. Rapes and the ensuing deaths (often from suicide), are routinely described in India’s press—though many more attacks go unreported to the public or police. Delhi has a miserable but deserved reputation for being unsafe, especially for poor and low-caste women. Sexual violence in villages, though little reported, keeps girls and women indoors after dark. As young men migrate from the country into huge, crowded slums, their predation goes unchecked. Prosecution rates for rape are dismally low and convictions lower still—as in many countries.

Really?

These are countries that we are sending missionaries to. These are real, living, breathing women who are trying to live their lives.

We, a denomination, reportedly over 17 million strong, who send our money overseas can do nothing about this.

I even looked on the SBC news site for something about this issue. I found nothing. No editorial. No outrage. No plan of action. No, “let’s do something.”

I’m not asking we send in an armed militia. I’m asking that Southern Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, ir2and all people of faith get involved.

Surely, these people are of Hindu faith. Who cares? It doesn’t matter one iota. They are our fellow man. All of us have a voice to cry out against sin and injustice.

Sanctity of life? What does that mean if we are not outraged when rape after rape occurs in a country we are reaching with our missonal dollars every year? What does it matter when we sit silently while fellow human beings are being tortured and taken advantage of without our intervention or attempts at help?

What if the roles were reversed? What if India was filled with 17 million Christian people who had money and sent it to a large denomination. What if we were being persecuted and our wives and daughters were being raped on a continual basis by the state and people here? What if India said, “We will keep sending missionaries. We will pray for you. We will do what we can?”

How would you feel?

What do I suggest? I really don’t know. But I do know that we can do better by our fellow man than just silence. Prayer? Yes. But action and concern that reaches the ears of those in charge matters. How long? How long will we sing this song? How long?

__________________

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.

“Sexting”: Are There Rules?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in love, relationships, sexting, sin | Posted on 12-11-2012

2

My last post was intended to be a standalone blog post about “sexting, or when people send messages to one another via messaging tools (text, Facebok, Twitter, etc.) with a sexual nature.

I had a lot of people view that post, but I also had a friend of the site email me with some great questions that I thought I might attempt to answer. Usually, on my site, I’m dealing with issues that effect pastors/fallen pastors and that sort of thing. I’m having to step back and think about a few of these.

First, are there boundaries for single Christians about what they should/shouldn’t text to one another? Yeah, I’d start with a simple guideline. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t text it. We have a tendency to get very brave behind a keyboard. If you can’t imagine yourself saying it, don’t hit send. On the other hand, if what you’re about to send is about to cross the line and  you would have said it to that person anyway, you need to check where you are.

See, “sexting” is a step toward a dangerous relationship with a person. It used to be talked about with “bases.” You know, “I got to first base.” Now, somewhere in there, sexting is like trotting between first and second. Or, if images are sent, it can be a straight out line drive with runners on base.

Think about Colossians 3:5: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (ESV) Is there something inside you that wants more because of your lust? Get it under control.

Now, on to married people. Married people who are in different relationships who are texting or messaging someone outside their marriages. There needs to be a foreword to this one. We need to understand the types of people who do this.

Read more after the jump….

“Sexting”: When It’s Okay

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, love, marriage, relationships, sexting | Posted on 09-11-2012

1

Seriously. This blog is biblically based. But it also has some warnings for everyone.

I’m going to start with my own story. For those of you who don’t know, I fell in the ministry. I was a pastor of a church and I committed adultery. Afterwards, I wrote a book about it and interviewed pastors, experts, counselors, looking for common signs, patterns and help for those who fall. It’s not a book for just pastors, but for church members, leaders and anyone who is tempted.

But what I want to blog about today is our social networking. Texting. Back in the day, men would write letters to their adulterous partners so they wouldn’t be discovered. Today? It’s so much easier. We have Twitter, Facebook, and texting. When a married man is really interested in a woman, all he has to do is have her number and he can text her.

In fact, I know a lot of men (including me), who talked to women they were interested in, saying suggestive things and before they got home to their wives, deleted the whole conversation.

It’s rampant. You don’t think it’s a problem? About a year ago, Rev. Cedric Miller told his congregation not to use Facebook.  Why? Because it was easy to “hook up” with former acquaintances and talk to them in a sinful manner. He’s got a point. Social media allows us to talk to people we don’t know who have all kinds of physical and emotional needs and we are tempted by them.

Here’s my honesty. Before I committed physical adultery, I was texting my lover. She’s my current wife. You can read all the details in my book. We started harmlessly texting day after day. We got on Yahoo chat and talked. Then, things accelerated.

I know I have a wide audience. Pastors, fallen pastors, wives of fallen pastors, regular people, whomever. Listen, the sin of adultery is right around the corner for everyone. Don’t think you’re immune. Because you’re not.

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

2

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.

 

Finding Meaning At The End Of Life

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in deacons, death, forgiveness, journey, living, love, ministry, mom, pastors, preachers, reconciliation, relationships, sickness | Posted on 17-07-2012

4

I’ve always believed that no matter how long or how short your life is, as long as you are drawing a breath, God will use it for His glory.

I saw it the other day in a dear friend. Those of you who know me well know who I’m referring to. An old friend who has been overcome with cancer. Those of you who have read my book or blog might know him as the church leader I first shared my infidelity with. He’s much more than that. He’s a father figure to me. He was one of the first church members to offer me unconditional forgiveness.

I remember the day I approached him, in his pole barn. It was a year after my adultery. I laid it all out on the line. I had even been mad at him for how things had gone after I got caught. But there I sat, humbled. He said finally, “Yes, I was disappointed. All I could think of was all of the good you could have done. But I forgave you a while back. I’m glad you’re here.” A few months ago, before we even knew he had cancer, I saw him and he wrapped his hard-working agrarian arms around me and said to me unexpectedly, “You know I’ve always loved you, don’t you?”

I grew up with a rocky relationship with my own father. When I met this man, he mentored me as a young pastor. He lead me in the right direction, give me a kind kick in the pants when I needed it, encourage me on the days when I must have looked frustrated, and he looked after my family. I remember the day my mother was killed in a car accident. The nurse came into the room where he, I, and another deacon were waiting. She asked, “Who is going to identify the body?” She was looking at me. I began to descend into a panic attack. He stood up without hesitation and said, “Can it be anyone?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “I’ll do it.” I wept. When he came back, he was crying.

When I heard about his cancer a few months ago, I went and saw him. It hadn’t slowed him down too much yet. But we found we had more to talk about. He said, “I wish I had a little more time. There are a few more things I’d like to do.”

I about lost it. I started coughing uncontrollably. I said, “Really?” (For this next part, you really have to have been sitting where we were.) I said, “Look around these eighty acres you own. You bought them from hard work at coal mining and bull dozing. Not only you live here, but you have made it so three other families can live on your property, including my ex-wife and your own daughter. You built a covered, wooden bridge. Really? I built a wooden bookshelf once. And it fell apart. You have done more in your life than most men could accomplish in two lifetimes. What’s more is that you love people from your heart. You are an amazing man that gives and gives and sets an example. I wouldn’t be sitting here if that wasn’t true.

He’s the heart of that little rural church. He was there the day the doors were first opened as a kid and he’s still the heart of it now. His heart beats for that place. If I could give you an example – there was an awful ice storm about four years ago here. The power was out all across the county. Except for two places – the parsonage and the church. We were the only church that had services that Sunday after the ice storm, dagnabit. But we were there. All eight of us. He led songs, I preached like I had a cathedral full of people whose hearts needed to be warmed. And it was enough.

He led the choir. And he did more than lead a choir – he led it with his heart. He had sang in a quartet for years and just loved to praise God and that’s pretty much what he did while leading that choir. Sometimes, when the music got to him, a tear would come to his eye. And that was the best kind of worship.

He loves his wife and daughter and granddaughter. They are the world to him. He would fight fiercely to defend them, work his tail off to provide for all of them, and yet a tear comes to his eye when he talks about any of them.

He loves people. If a man showed up at church, regardless of his story, who needed $20, he’d fish it out of his wallet and pray with him. He just loved people. He loved people like Christ told us to love people. And he didn’t do it because it was being dragged out of him or because it was legalistic. He did it because it was the nature of his heart.

Most of all, he loves his Savior. I told a lot of stories about him in this blog post to get to this point. Finding meaning at the end of life. He’s in extremely bad shape and I told him what I tell everyone at the end of life – “God has a purpose for each breath and every heartbeat.” Then I said to him, “Is there anyone you haven’t talked to that you want me to contact?” He whispered, “no.” He’s unable to talk, eat or drink. His esophagus is completely destroyed.

I guess he had a little time to think about my question, though. I showed up a day later and asked his wife, “How are the visitors? Anything new?” She said, “He had me call two people up here who haven’t been here. He witnessed to both of them even though he can hardly talk. He gave one of them his bible. Both of them left crying.

I got choked up. Every moment we have in this life is worth something. Every breath we draw, even in suffering, is worth the glory of God. My friend won’t be around much longer, but I know he loves his Savior enough to make the best of it. He looked at me about a week ago. He’s not able to swallow the ice water that is given him. It can’t make it’s way to his stomach. He has to suction it back out.

He looked at me and said, “I’d give a million dollars to drink a glass of water. But soon I’ll have my fill of the living water.” Yes you will. Yes, you absolutely will. I said to him, “I don’t envy you right now, but soon, I will heartily envy you and your position right next to Christ.” He smiled and we shared a tear together.

Thank you, Lord, for a friend like that. A man like that who showed me forgiveness, kindness and the model of what a father should be. May we all remember and learn, especially if we end up in the same circumstances one day.

__________________

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.