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Allison, My Wife, My Inspiration

I was overwhelmed Wednesday by the reception I received from my blog post called, “Gay Marriage, the Church, and the Christ Response.” All the feedback I got was amazing and it was from both sides of the aisle. The post wasn’t really about gay marriage, but about how we should love as Christ loved. I...

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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:

Cats and Church

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Allison, cats, church, church members, churches, ministry, religion | Posted on 09-08-2011

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We have a cat problem.

We have KitKat, our orange two year old kitty who is scared of his own shadow. He stays in the garage. He’s scared of all of us, but will let you pet him when you give him food.

Recently, we have added two strays. Pearl, who is jet black and is lovable and kind. He’s about 10 months. He nuzzled up to us with some trust and kindness and stays mostly on the back deck.

Then, there’s Buttercup. He loves to eat and will beat the ever loving crud out of KitKat and Pearl to eat their food. He’s a stray as well and is about 10 months old. I keep telling Allison, “Buttercup is okay. He’s just an animal. He needs to eat and doesn’t know how to play well.”

The problem is feeding time. We put KitKat’s food down in the garage and Buttercup comes rushing in and trying to fight her. Then, when we try to feed Pearl on the back deck, same problem.

Tonight, I looked out the front glass door and saw Buttercup, pathetically crying for food. Allison isn’t a fan of Buttercup.

She said, “Isn’t it sad we have to set aside three different feeding times so that the three different cats don’t kill each other? Buttercup would kill the other two just to get their food! It’s like we have to accommodate everyone’s needs just to make all three of them happy!”

I didn’t think about the words when they came out of my mouth. I promise I didn’t.

I said, “Sounds a lot like trying to be a pastor.”

I didn’t mean it . . .

 

 

That was tacky, as my mother would say.

The Followers of Harold Camping, Pastors in Peril, and Pride

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in churches, humillity, pastors, preachers, pride, religion, repentance | Posted on 17-05-2011

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I suppose you know by now that the world is coming to an end on Saturday. That’s the prediction made by Family Radio’s Harold Camping. True believers will be raptured and those left behind will be in for six months of terror. Camping’s followers have been traveling the country spreading the word for a while now distributing tracts, putting up billboards and warning the unbelievers.

More, many of them have sold their possessions to spread Camping’s false predictions. He’s done this before and will probably do it again.

Reporters have asked some of Camping’s followers what they’ll do when they wake up on the 22nd. Some won’t answer. Those who do have a very concerning answer. They say, “I guess I wasn’t truly saved.”

I suspect on the 22nd, there will be a line of media and the general public waiting to ridicule and laugh at these people. They’ll be the picture of scorn for a long time at work, in their families, and in public. A lot of people will think they have it coming.

I’ve got a different perspective on it. Camping probably will deserve what he gets. He’s a false prophet.

However, I think a lot of these people have been duped. And I also think there’s hope for some of them. What I hope happens is that when they wake up on the 22nd, they’ll see the error of the system they’re in and look to truth. They’ll stop following a man and start following what is known. That they can admit to being wrong and show humility.

Even if they do have that response, they’ll be ridiculed. However, that won’t matter. The only thing that matters is that they show humility.

Unfortunately, there will be others in the Camping group who will hold to their wrong beliefs even when the 22nd rolls around. Whether it be a new prediction from Camping (who has guaranteed the 21st as the right date) or a modified description of what actually happened. The ridicule may make them harden in their unbelief.

Now, we can sit here and look at Harold’s followers with scorn or we can realize we’re not that different. Let me use another example that hits closer home for me.

There are a lot of prideful pastors in the world. I know this because I was one. I’m still prideful in many ways. That’s why I can speak to this.

There are a lot of men who are chasing after the ministry instead of chasing after Christ. Chasing after a position or standing. Men who view God as an object to be studied instead of One to be feared and worshiped. Men who use education and studies as a way to separate themselves from the masses instead of a bridge to aid them. I know, I’ve been there.

Being a pastor is a dangerous thing. It’s a temptation to want to be the next John Piper, to dress trendy and hip, or to appear great in front of your people. This often happens unwittingly. We tell ourselves that we love Christ and that we’re just seeking after Him. That what we’re doing is just furthering the kingdom.

But when we’re alone at night and we ask ourselves honestly, “what is the end I am pursuing?” the answer won’t be so neat and Scriptural. It would probably be, “my ends by my means. So that I might be appreciated, honored and find a better position.”

I don’t want anyone to fall. Ever. I wouldn’t want to see my worst enemy fall. I don’t like pride anymore. I don’t think I really liked pride before, I just found a way to cozy up to it and hold it tight at night.

But that ends in disaster too.

The best question I’ve learned to continually ask myself to guard against pride – “What if I’m wrong?” A good follow up? “How would I know?”

I’ve learned that whether we’re a prideful pastor, a prideful follower of Harold Camping, a prideful Christian (who doesn’t realize it), a prideful husband, we have two choices. We can either humble ourselves or wait for God to do it. And He will. Oh, yes. He will.

My Favorite Theatrical Preachers: With Video Goodness

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in actors, movies, preachers, religion | Posted on 03-03-2011

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After a discussion with Cynthia recently, I realized that some of my favorite movies and television shows have some pretty crooked ministers in them.
At the heart of it, you know you really want a pastor/preacher with a mix of all these men. Admit it. It’s okay. Sure, you want a man who preaches reformed theology. But you want him a “little off.” Like these guys.
I’ve had some pretty heavy posts recently, so I thought I’d post my favorite ministers in the entertainment industry. With video evidence of course.
1. Eli Sunday – There Will Be Blood
This guy is phenomenal. He’s a con-artist who works the congregation, he works a big time oil boss, but in the end, he blasphemes the God who made him his money – and gets himself offed by an Academy Award winner. Paul Dano, the actor, was nominated for a British Academy Film Award for his role. Best line I can’t quote after this “sermon” that’s not in this clip is from Lewis: “That was one gosh darn heck of a show.”

Don’t say that to your pastor.

2. Jonas Nightingale – Leap of Faith
Unbelievable performance of drama from the great comedian Steve Martin. He said he researched the part by watching Benny Hinn. I have watched this movie at least 60 times. And you can’t beat a movie with Liam Neeson and Meat Loaf. Several great clips here: “Go ahead, tip the dancing bear.” And, Martin’s superior dialogue in this clip, “You wanna give up womanizing? Who you gonna talk to? Some pale skin virgin priest? If you wanna give up sin, you need a real sinner people…”
3. Fletch Lives – Jimmy Lee Farnsworth. Farnsworth has his own amusement park and is a Peter Popoff / Jim Bakker knockoff. In this scene, Chevy Chase’s character improvises being a faith healer.
4. Elmer Gantry, Burt Lancaster - A con artist, alcoholic posing as a minister to get the woman. A great movie if you haven’t seen it. Lancaster won best actor for his role.
Who knows what religion this guy is? But he’s a sucker, an apparent ecumenalist and a ham. But we all can identify with his gaffes and poor judgment. Every pastor in America has been where this man has been. Surrounded by goofballs. Yet totally oblivious.

Bonus story: Once while I was visiting a church, a high school student played piano for the special music. I sat there and listened and the song sounded really familiar. He was smirking all the way through it. I looked at his buddies and they were laughing. Finally, I said to myself, “That’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’”

He got done and the place filled with “Amens” and he bowed to the congregation. That’s the nice thing about playing to an over-60 crowd I suppose.