Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Haggard, Tired and Poor...

It's been hard to go too far without hearing of the demise of giga church pastor and leader Ted Haggard. I have never been a big fan of the religious right although I am a committed Christ follower and pastor. My first reaction to the Haggard issue was one of pride, of which I had to repent.

Then I thought about my life. What if everything I have thought, looked at and even engaged in was brought to light. Who would I embarrass? What skeletons do I have in my personal closet. Maybe not of the sexual kind, but certainly ones of improper justification, pride, gluttony, selfishness.. Yes, I strive for holiness and purity but as the Psalmist and others before me I sometimes trip and have to fall back on the throne of grace. I'm praying for the Haggard family. As U2 once said, grace is the thought that moves the world.

-I was impressed at the letter that Haggard wrote over the weekend, and the one his wife wrote. You can view them HERE. I was around in the 80's during the Swaggart and Baker scandals. Ted took the high road and owned up to his issues. In the letter Haggard states:
… I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.

Through the years, I’ve sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them.

The public person I was wasn’t a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe. …

Once I read these words I thought of King David and his cry to be clean in Psalm 51. It by no means excuses sin, but reminds of that where sin abounds grace abounds even more.

As I've thought about what has transpired I come up with the following thoughts:

- If we are Christ followers, we have to deal with the sin in our lives. As simple as it seems, it comes down to the daily struggle with sin and the need to 'crucify ourselves' daily. Sin damages our lives, it damages our families and friends it damages our effectiveness. Whether it be arrogance or sexual sin - we have to be brutish in dealing with our shortcomings.

- We as a church have to be much less arrogant and much more Christ like. The simple fact is this: if you're going to preach against homosexual marriage then don't frequent gay prostitutes! Sounds simple right? However as Christian leaders we tend to think we're above the law. There can be a compartmentalization of our lives where we can act one way in public and another way in private. We have to stop appearing 'holier than thou' and start being holy without words. That will do much more to change our culture than lobbying or marching. We must simply start being the church.

- Grace goes a long way. I'm so thankful that God is a restorer, deliverer, forgiver, cleanser, healer... The Blood of Christ is such a perfect sacrifice - covering all my sins.

- I need Jesus. I need more of Jesus in my life and less of me.

I've been reminded of the text in Revelation 4:17-20 that says:
...And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy gold from me - gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference.

Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.

I'm praying for the Haggard family. I'm also praying for my family...


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