Monday, May 30, 2011


"We are not sinners because we sometimes sin.  We sin because we are all sinners."  -Brennan Manning

I don't really know how many of you were surprised by the news yesterday that I spent 7 weeks in jail in 2007. I know that many of my former youth and their parents have known my story for a long time. Many have shown me amazing grace and mercy, while others have removed themselves from my life. I understand this. It has to be difficult to understand how someone they trusted so much could have disappointed them so completely. There have been many hints from the very first day of this blog that there had been a great sin in my life that ended my ministry, and I know that a few of my friends and Twitter followers have "googled" me and learned my story in that way. In any case, I am going to spend two days bringing everyone up to speed on how I went from youth pastor to inmate. I didn't intend to tell this story until I reached the right point chronologically, but yesterday's revelation makes it feel like this is the time to tell you "the rest of the story." 

I have written here before that quite often we don't dive into a sin, we "nibble" our way to lostness. This was very true in my case. In the latter part of the 1990s I discovered the wonders of the Internet. I loved using e-mail and instant messages to stay in touch with the students in my ministry and with old friends from all over the country. In fact, I was recognized by my peers in student ministry for some of the creative ways I was using the web. As time went by I discovered chat rooms and met some wonderful new people. It all seemed so useful. There was, however, a dark side to the Internet- and I began to find it. As my work became more and more frustrating after a pastoral change and a move to a church where I had way too much free time, I began to "nibble." Soon I was having instant message chats with people I did not know. My issues were not pornography or trying to meet people offline. For me the sin was living in a fantasy world where no one knew who I was and no one had expectations of me. In that world I was not accountable to God or anyone else. Every so often God would convict me of this sin in my life and I would stop. But whenever life got tough, I would become weak. I never thought of anything I did as being illegal, but I knew it was a sin. I had stopped for a long period of time when my father passed away and I was leaving to take on a new ministry- BOTH on February 15, 2006. I then spent 6 months living by myself, waiting for school to end so my wife and son could move up and join me. During that time I began to nibble again...

In February of 2007 we had just returned from a great youth group ski trip- one where it actually snowed! I was very excited about the student ministry and the church I was serving in Waycross, GA. I was making plans for the summer, having already booked a house at Myrtle Beach and scheduled a CSM mission trip to Toronto. Things seemed great. My sin never kept me from doing my job. One afternoon I was at home alone when several local police officers and a car from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) stopped by the house. They seized all of my computers (home & office) and questioned me about an instant message conversation I had participated in back in December. The other participant had identified themselves as a minor and I had kept talking. We shared a very brief chat and then I was called away- but not before I said things I should not have said. The "girl" I was speaking with turned out to be a retired police officer. They would search 3 computers and find nothing- no pictures,  no e-mails and no attempts to meet anyone. But I was guilty of that conversation, and I said so. Confession may be good for the soul, but it when it comes to the USAmerican legal system it's a stupid thing to do. Things fell apart quickly after that. I was first suspended and then fired from my job (even though the church staff stood by me and my family until the end). I had to tell my wife and son the whole story. They were, of course, very angry with me- but even in those first moments they showed me nothing but grace. Even if I had been innocent (and I wasn't) just the allegation of such immoral behavior would have cost me my career. The entire community became aware of the situation in a heartbeat. The youth were questioned to make certain I had never harmed them, and youth from previous stops along my journey were questioned as well. I was left to dwell on what I had done, pray for those I had hurt, and await the outcome of the investigation. I didn't have to wait too long. The story continues tomorrow...

Because of Jesus,


  1. @mizweatherby5/30/2011

    Oh the tangled weaves we web. I like how you said, "We often don't dive into sin, we nibble our way in". That is so true and probably more dangerous than "diving". It sneaks up on us and we don't realize how deep we are until it's too late. I am so thankful that God loves us beyond our mistakes and bad choices. I have a hard time loving myself beyond my bad choices but I am so thankful God can. I am glad to call you "friend".

  2. It's so incredible that God forgives us so much more quickly than we forgive ourselves. Thanks so much for all of your support, Christie. Friends like you are a true blessing!

  3. A man that has never been bucked off cannot teach another man how to ride!

  4. Such wisdom in those words as Christie said. It sneaks up on us. I'm so thankful for His grace and forgiveness as well. Where would we be wihout it?

  5. I have found such love and support in my new Twitter family, and Kevin and Amy you are a big part of that. Thanks so much for your prayers and support. And Kevin- we WILL "ride" together someday. That's a promise!

  6. I had no idea, Carl! And I have to be honest, I feel God prepared my heart before you made this post and then God revealed it to me in the perfect timing as only He can. As I have mentioned to you before, I struggle with pride. And on another day, at another time I very well might have read this (most humble confession) and walked away. My pride is ugly like that sometimes. I become judgmental, arrogant, and withhold grace from others. Not a wise thing to do since I myself depend on the grace of God! Very hypocritical of me, I know it is. But this week, (more so over the past few days) "forgiveness" has been in my face (so to speak). I Tweeted about it (while doing the "Tweeting the Bible in a Year"), I blogged about it, others have mentioned the topic (in a passing kind of way) in my day to day fellowshipping, and someone even left a comment on my blog which caused me to examine my own heart even further and write a response regarding forgiveness. So I think it is safe to say God wanted me ready for this...(though I know no one can speak for Him).

    You see, since you were my youth pastor I grabbed you and placed you (to a certain degree) on a pedestal. Which is not only unfair to you (you never once asked to be put there), it is also the sin of idolatry (though you don't have to worry about any gold statues or anything) :) I unintentionally built that pedestal out of cards and though you gave fair warning about your former sin it still could have fired up my sin of pride and frustration when the cards toppled and the whole thing fell. But thankfully God is all knowing and He addressed this issue in my heart before I even knew it existed. I LOVE how He is SO good ALL the time like that.

    I believe you have repented (completely turned away) from this sin and therefore I feel I would be a fool (and a hypocrite) to not truly forgive you from my heart (as if the sin never even existed). Besides, I'm sure reaping the harvest of the seeds that were planted during that time was unpleasant enough for a lifetime. (Admittedly, I am reaping my own seeds grown up from a time in my life when I was living in sin. "Unpleasant" is a vast understatement!) All saints were once sinners and all of us crawl in the trenches while doing our best to fight the good fight. It is my opinion it is our fall into temptation, having our sin seek us out, repentance, and humbling request for forgiveness that helps us have compassion for others. Only Christ alone did not have to go through this process (though satan tried to tempt Him). I hope my words are adequately illustrating what is in my heart. Thank you for your confession here in your post. I am truly thankful God has placed you and your wonderful family in my life. You continue to help me grow in Christ...though being pruned is so painful!

  7. Brook, my greatest concern as I wrote this was for old friends like you who might not know. Thank you for your kind words and your grace and forgiveness. No one- NO ONE! - has been a more faithful reader or more encouraging to me since I began this blog, and your friendship is very important to me. I look forward to sharing many more adventures together in the name of Jesus!

  8. Very well done, friend.

  9. Teresa, old friends rock. I'm just sayin...


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