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The Christ Who Overshadows Failure

I’ve always had a nagging question in my mind after my fall. “Will the people of my former church remember any of the good I did for eight years or will it be overshadowed by my sin?” Last weekend, we heard of a former church member whose father died. The family no longer attends the...

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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:

Fallen Pastor: The Book, Part 7, The Sinner And The Sermon

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, book, church face, commandments, compassion, pastors, scripture, trust | Posted on 22-12-2011

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I’ve had a lot of great feedback from people who have read varying drafts of my upcoming book: Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World. (Looking for book reviewers, by the way). One of the most productive comments came from Mark Roberts, an excellent Christian Blogger. He said that there was an issue that I needed to address – the issue of broken trust.

He shared with me that for many people, when the pastor falls, they aren’t as upset about his adultery as they are about his deceit. Many pastors carry on in adulterous relationships for years or months while still maintaining their role as pastor. After their fall, many people find it extremely difficult to ever trust them again.

In the book, I tell the story of megachurch pastor “Kris” who described getting into the pulpit the Sunday after he committed adultery. He said, “I walked up on stage, soaking in sweat, and I said to God, ‘God, just kill me while I’m on stage.”

I remember a day like that for me. Thinking that any moment, God would strike me down in fury. But He didn’t. Not right then. But it became normal to be a hypocrite after a while. Putting on a face in the pulpit while preaching the Word while sinning the rest of the time. It was about a two month period for me while I went from emotional to physical affair, lying to the congregation. I even performed a baptism during that time.

I remember how passionate I was about everything before my fall. I had preached through the ten commandments a year before with extreme conviction. During my sin, I would hardly mention sexual sin from the pulpit.

I remember a conversation I had with a pastor once. I said, “When I was sinning I would hardly mention sexual sin. I guess that’s a way to tell if someone has a problem.”

He said, “Not always. Some guys who have a problem will mention it all the time.”

How did I feel about it looking back? Awful. Did I know it was wrong while I was doing it? Yes. How did I deal with it? I just crammed that little voice down as far as I could. I did what a lot of people do. I put my church face on and acted like I was someone else on Sunday. Frankly, I had been doing that for a long time – but not in the same way. It was wretched.

No doubt people will be disappointed, angry and upset over that kind of sin. They should be. People should expect that their pastor won’t commit adultery.

I still want to remind people that even in the midst of their sin, fallen pastors need compassion. They need to be pursed with love and the hope of repentance, in the spirit of Galatians 6:1.

What about all that time the pastor spent preaching, ministering, teaching, baptizing – while being a complete wretch? A few thoughts.

First, let it be said that nothing can be done to erase that memory. The fallen pastor sinned and surely, the days in which he mixed his transgression with his ministry will not be remembered for any kind of good. It is a difficult time to reflect upon, but always remember to do it with the compassion of Christ.

Secondly, ultimately, the mission and work of the church is not about the pastor. God is always in control of all things. When the Word is preached, even from a sinner (always from a sinner), it will do what He desires for it to do. God’s Word is not held powerless because of the ineptitude, hard heartedness or sin of His people.

A great example is Jonah. That guy didn’t want to go to Ninevah. He hated those people. God made him go. He walked in, said what he had to say and walked out. Then, he retreated to watch the city be destroyed because he was sure that the people wouldn’t repent. Jonah – prophet with a sinful heart.  But God got His message across with the messenger He chose and it did what He wanted it to do.

Believing in a sovereign God brings all kinds of peace. Does that mean we should sin so God’s grace can abound? We all know Paul’s answer to that. It does mean that God’s Word and message cannot be thwarted.

Finally, it should be a reminder to all of us to be wary. Guess what? Each Christian is to carry the precious gospel of Christ. Our lives are to be lived out with the compassion, love and actions found within. All hypocrisy should be removed from each dark corner of our lives.

 

What I Miss About Pastoring: Preaching

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in bible, church, pastoring, pastors, preachers, preaching, scripture | Posted on 09-02-2011

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Thought I’d write a few posts about what I miss most (and least) about pastoring. I’m not sure who it’ll help or if it will give insight to congregations about what their pastor goes through.

A quick disclaimer – don’t take me to say that I regret my current life. If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m repentant of my sin. But I can tell you that God does love me and has blessed me with good things. Love my wife, love my little section of the world.

I do miss preaching. In fact, when I talk to active pastors, that’s one of their first questions – “I bet you miss preaching, huh?” I just want to say, “Would you miss oxygen if someone held you under water for two minutes?”

There is just something about spending that time in the Word the week before (not the night before), opening it up in preparation for an expository message, digging for hermeneutical treasure, looking for the author’s intended meaning, then relating that to your church.

Of course, you’ll occasionally mess it up. But the joy that comes from preaching that Word is impossible to relate to someone who hasn’t been called to to it. And you know you’ll never get them to love that passage as you’ve loved that passage during the week. You’ll never get them to see every beautiful jot and tittle of it, but your heart explodes with passion about God’s Word during your time behind that pulpit.

And the joy you feel when you see the face of a church member (hopefully members) in the crowd when then have that look of discovery moment (or the “oh, now I get it” look) while you’re preaching. Because during the week, you understood something beautiful about the passage and now you were able to relate it to them.

And even more beautiful is when God moves upon a person by His Word and convicts them, leading them in His way. Not because of you, but because of Him.

Those moments are irreplaceable.

I’ve preached since my fall and hope to supply again in the future. To tell the story of the grace He has shown me and His forgiveness. It brings me joy. I would love to supply every Sunday if God sees fit to let me use the gifts He gave me.

To church members, I would say remember that your pastor has been spending hours preparing his sermon. He has prayed over it, studied it, gotten frustrated over it, and sometimes cried over it. You may walk out of the service saying, “Well, I didn’t get anything out of that,” but what exactly did you put into it? Pray for your pastor during the week as he prepares. Pray for your own heart to be touched by God’s Word.

To pastors, I pray you will fight temptation, stay strong in the Word, and do not neglect your own private devotional time as I did. Don’t let the distractions of meetings, committees, and complaints push you away from the most important thing you do.


To everyone else, find a pastor who preaches the Word. Without fail. A man who would die for his convictions. Who knows what he stands for. Who understands the righteousness of Christ and lives it out. But remember he is a human.

Reconciling With A Fallen Pastor, Part 4: Why Reconcile At All?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, churches, forgiveness, pastors, prayer, reconciliation, scripture, sin | Posted on 03-02-2011

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I started writing this post about how to reconcile with a fallen pastor long after he had fallen. But it occurred to me that I had failed to even broach the topic of “why reconcile with the fallen pastor?”

It’s really a good question. I can see it from the hurt church member’s perspective. He was the one who sinned. He should be taking the initiative and come dragging back to the church with a sad puppy dog face apology, right? He should come back in sack cloth and ashes, heart in hand and beg for forgiveness.

But it’s not always that simple. The fallen pastor doesn’t always see the path back to the church in that way. Often, he sees people staring him down, pushing him away, and the signs all telling him that he’s lucky a restraining order wasn’t put out. No kidding.

Most fallen pastors run away, tail tucked firmly between legs, and many go away to their own destruction.

If you’re reading this blog, you may be a church member interested in reconciliation with a fallen pastor. Good for you. Pursue it. But you need to know why it is important. The why is just as important as the how.

Let me give you a few reasons why.

First, Scripture commands it. I mentioned Galatians 6 in a previous post. Galatians 6:1-5 (ESV) Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.

It is the duty of the church to pursue those who have sinned, even the pastor. To bring him back into fellowship. I’ll go into more detail in a minute to what that means, but we are not to ever abandon a Christian in their most desperate hour.

If you found out that your uncle, brother, daughter was strung out on crack cocaine, would you leave them to their own devices? No, you would not. You would pursue them and help them. Then why would you abandon your brother in Christ after finding out they fell into moral sin? But churches do it in a second when they discover their pastors have fallen into adultery or pornographic sin.

Secondly, it can be a testimony to the world of the reconciling power of Christ. Ephesians 2:14-17 says that Christ “himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”

Christ came to break down walls of separation. He came to reconcile Jew to Greek. If He could break down that wall, surely He can break down the wall of fallen pastor to hurt church. The cross is powerful enough to show the world that He can break down such barriers. Yes, the pain is real when men fall. But Christ’s power over such sin is even more powerful.

Third, it is an example to your family, your children, and the world to forgive. You might not even realize how angry you have been for the past few years against your pastor and his sin. Unforgiveness and anger are not good. When you think about the pastor who fell, how does it make you feel? Pangs of anger? Pity? Make things right and reconcile with him as Christ asked us to do.

Fourth, you must do this for the health of your church. Often times, after a pastor falls, and a church does not forgive, a pattern of sin and unforgiveness settles in that stays within for generations. It may be that to break this cycle and to make peace with God, your church needs to do the right thing and openly reconcile with the former pastor.

It is not easy to settle your heart to approach a former, fallen pastor. The next few posts will deal with how to do this. Set your heart on prayer now on making yourself right with God. You know reconciliation is the right thing. If someone has sinned against you, there is a command to be followed. If you have done someone wrong, you know what is to be done.

And in the long run, you know it will be right in the eyes of your Lord.