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Ted Haggard and the Cultural Quake 11/09/2006

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Ted Haggard was with me the day before the bad news broke.

I was with Ted Haggard 24 hours before his world caved in. He was in our studio taping a television program discussing his new book The Pursuit of the Good Life. Betty and I sensed in our spirit something amiss and it concerned us enough to pray, but we were not granted any opportunity to effectively offer counsel or comfort. Two of his five children were at his side. It was like a knife through my heart when the revelations came out over the next few days. We have not ceased to pray for Ted, his wife, Gayle, and their five beautiful children.

Many people have written in and asked about this tragic and disturbing situation. I will offer two words: one from me personally and another from my friend and neighbor, Pastor Ed Young, Jr.

I view the tremors that ran through the Evangelical community as a part of the larger shaking that is taking place in the world today. Several months ago I shared that there would be a great shaking of all things spiritual, political and physical -- in a message entitled, "We Have a Choice: Humility or Humiliation." I see a common thread running through our culture, from the shocking exposure of Republican Congressman Mark Foley to the sad humiliation of Ted Haggard. It continued through the elections this week.

Everything that can shake will be shaken! We must return to prayer in humility and repent of the wrongdoing in our own lives or we will experience public humiliation when our deeds are exposed. It is the prayer of the righteous that makes a difference. Religious background or political affiliation is not the issue -- God hears prayers for and from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Yet our hope does not lie in a religious personality, political party or any elected leader. Christians must not be guilty of "trusting our numerous warriors" or "trusting in horses or chariots." This humanistic pride always leads to a fall. Our security must lie in Jesus Christ. He alone can grant us the grace and strength to face our personal and national challenges.

Gordon MacDonald, a respected author and pastor, called his response "The Haggard Truth" in the Leadership Journal. He wrote, "I am no stranger to failure and public humiliation. From those terrible moments of twenty years ago in my own life I have come to believe that there is a deeper person in many of us who is not unlike an assassin... [This force] seeks to destroy us and masses energies that -- unrestrained -- tempt us to do the very things we "believe against." If you have been burned as deeply as I (and my loved ones) have, you never live a day without remembering that there is something within that, left unguarded, will go on the rampage. Wallace Hamilton once wrote, 'Within each of us there is a herd of wild horses all wanting to run loose.'"

Secret sins and recurring struggles are trampling many in the church every day. We urgently need to learn to trust God and each other enough to get healed. "We need to get whole before we can get holy," John Eldredge shared this week while taping our television program LIFE Today.

Satan, the "accuser of the brethren," tells us that we have to suffer for our sins, but the fact is Jesus already suffered. He paid the price when he was humiliated on the cross, so that we would not have to endure lives of repeated humiliation. But we must first humble ourselves before Him in order to find deliverance through Him.

God wants to shape us by the power of his Word. We will be broken if we continue to rebel in stubbornness and pride, but if we will become yielded clay in the potter's hands, God will shape a vessel that honors him.

Restoration comes through His family -- the church, which is the true body of believers. Too many people, both leaders and laymen alike, are disconnected from those who can help them the most. When we humbly submit to one another, then we are in submission to God. That is the first step toward healing. Because some believers are so critical and judgmental, we are often afraid to confess our weaknesses.

Pray for all of our leaders. In these moments of desperation, let us cry out to the Lord and yield to His sovereign will. Only Providential direction can protect us from the consequences of our rebellious actions and the torment our enemies seek to inflict on us. God is offering mercy, but we must turn from our selfish ways to receive the good gifts He has waiting for us.

Now, excerpts from Ed Young, Jr.'s eloquent and piercing article entitled "A Fall To Grace":

We call it "a fall from grace": a Christian man or woman caught in some type of sexual, financial, legal or other ethical or moral indiscretion who falls from a position of high esteem...
Have you ever wondered where that phrase, "a fall from grace," comes from? Galatians 5:4, "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (NKJV)
In biblical terms, a fall from grace is not the sinner saved by grace who is caught in moral failure. That is a fall to grace. A fall from grace is the self-righteous person who tries to earn his or her salvation through the guise of moral living, declaring that Christ's work on the cross was unnecessary--at least for them.
Let me ask a simple question: Do we really believe in grace? Or not?
When scandals hit the news wires and our TV screens, I'm reminded how easy it is to preach and teach grace, but how difficult it is to live out on the rugged plains of reality. And I say that as I search my own heart and attitudes. I say that because I struggle through the gamut of emotions, sometimes throwing critical glances toward a "fallen" man or woman in the Church. "Can you believe he did that?" I'm tempted to say with an air of arrogance.
Let's just lay our cards on the table. We're all hypocrites! Being a hypocrite means assuming a role that is not yours to assume. Sadly, too many churches are communities of criticism instead of communities of compassion.
Criticism is like a boomerang. Matthew 7:2 says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." So, if you want to get what you are giving, go ahead and give it. But be ready for its return to smack you on the back of your head.
That's why we need to humbly allow Jesus to yank the plank of criticism from our eyes. Once we do, two things happen. One, we can see the mercy of God in our own lives. And two, we can extend the mercy of God to others. Because I am not getting what I deserve from God, I have the power to release others from what they deserve. I'm able to give them what God has given me -- love, acceptance and grace.
Don't misunderstand me. I'm not justifying, rationalizing or any other type of "-izing" the moral indiscretions of Pastor Haggard or any other Christian leader ensnared by sin. What I am saying is that it's time to let God be the judge and take our proper role as fellow sinner saved by grace. And maybe it's time for us to stop putting other human beings -- who can't possibly live up to our expectations -- on moral pedestals. Maybe it's time to remember who the standard bearer of our faith is: Jesus. Maybe it's time to put aside our human nature and, as the apostle Paul suggested, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)

Ed Young is pastor of Fellowship Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He is the author of several books including The Creative Leader: Unleashing the Power of Your Creative Potential and You!. To read "A Fall To Grace" in its entirety, visit Relevant Magazine.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 1374

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.