A Letter to Ted Haggard – Part 3

My open letter to Ted Haggard is in response to his public letter of apology and forgiveness shared with his church on Sunday, November 5, 2006. This is part three.

Ted, it has been said that you have “fallen from grace”. This phrase is very often used when pastors are asked to step down from their ministry positions because of impropriety. What people fail to realize and what I learned from a good pastor friend of mine who went through somewhat of a public dismantling of his own ministry years ago is this:

You didn’t fall from grace Ted, you have fallen into grace.

People want to keep you from grace. These “great religious leaders” you have been asked to submit to for “restoration” don’t want you to have grace. The Dobson’s of the world don’t want you to experience grace. They want you to jump through hoops to earn it back. They want to try and “fix you” Ted and make you look all “shiny and spiffy” again. But do you know what that gets you? It gets you back to the place of pretending. It puts you back on the same carousel you just fell off.

Others telling you that you have “fallen from grace” implies that you now have to climb your way back up to the place you were before. It puts you back on that merry-go-round of goodness that leads you nowhere. It keeps you spinning so you never experience true grace. You and I know that the place where your were wasn’t grace. It was getting you nowhere close to grace. The place you were before was a prison… it was a cage. Whatever the name for it, where you were before wasn’t named grace.

Grace isn’t gaining other peoples approval. It isn’t about people liking you. It isn’t your ability to keep a smile on your face when the world is falling down all around you. Grace isn’t feeling good about the things we have done or justifying the things we have done wrong. Grace isn’t telling others what grace is like and expecting they will believe you just because you say it. It isn’t “seven steps”, or “three ways” or “five principles”. There isn’t a formula for grace.

Grace is that feeling of completeness you have longed for in your life. It is the ability to look in the mirror now and know that you no longer have to hide who you really are to those around you. It is being real at all times throughout your day and knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you… this is who you are. Grace is normally found when you have fallen and reached out to grab the end of your rope. It is the beginning of the journey for your life, not a destination where you arrive and stay. In grace, you will finally be joining your public and your private self into one celebration of a life well lived. A life lived with honesty, responsibility and wholeness at the forefront.

Grace is freedom.

And for those who have found the freedom of grace, life is never the same. Good luck on your journey Ted.

Take care,

Steve

25 thoughts on “A Letter to Ted Haggard – Part 3”

  1. Sounds like a good Sunday Morning series SheildsyThe kind that could go on the sign and draw people from other churchesHA!

  2. In the spirit of were all saying whatever we want to say, no holds barred, exposing the warm fuzzy underbelly of our souls for all to see……………………I don’t understand what the big discussion is here…what does Ted Haggard having sex with a man have anything to do with his ability to preach the Gospel effectively? The two are completely unrelated. There is nothing in the Bible that disqualifies him. Now please let’s not go into the qualifications of a bishop, because he has never claimed to be a bishop like Carlton Pierson who is clearly going to hell in a hand basket!!Okay and now I have heard it all…the Holy Spirit is apparently flying around and randomly jumping onto people to save them. Now I have heard it all!! Good one Duffelhead…that must be in the Bible in 1Duffelhead 5:16 Signed…Anonymous

  3. duffle,My conveluted comment was not to imply that we are to become little solo churchs of one. But simply to point out that the biblical function of the church, as God designed it, is not to feed us. I know this seems to go against the very grain of our “churchified” thinking, but hear me (read me) out. Yes, it is great to have a church that has evangelical teaching, but all it can do is provide. Ultimatly it is up to the individual to take and learn. I know this seems insultingly simple, but an unfortunate trend of the modern church has become that simply showing up, listening, and scribbling down the occasional key sermon note, is sufficient toward building the knowledge and understanding of God’s heart, and thus streangthening the relationship. Fellowship is there for us to recharge and encourage one another, much like an oasis. But this is not where we grow and learn with God. This will happen when we are free and clear of the false safety net that is the church building, and become vulnerable just as our brother Haggard was.All I’m trying to say is, let’s help the church understand its true and vital part in God’s plan for us, and not turn it into a fix-it-all for our laziness and insecurities–which is unfortunatly what it has become. Christians (especially stinkin’ nasty rich Southern Californian types) have little to no desire to seek God in their own life outside of the church-building confines. They truly believe that maintaining faithful attendance will somehow get them closer to God. God is already in each and every one of us, not waiting behind stained glass!!!! But if they were to admit to this, their guilt over their daily sins would be overwhelming (and I do not count myself out of this group… I just admit to my overwhelming guilt and try to meet God as often as I can–where ever I am).Enough outa me… again I’m committing blog fopa’s (don’t even know if I spelled that right…), by blogging on Steve’s blog… sorry dude. My dad’s a pastor, I guess some of it rubbed off.

  4. The old “3 B’s” … Behave, Belong, Believe … put them in the “correct” order and you can win acceptance and eternal life.

  5. Defining Grace as unmerited, undeserved, and unearned is as it should be. I know I am restating the point here, but it seems Christians/ people in general are willing to accept grace until someone does something in our opinion “really bad”. I appreciate that God can see our hearts and extends grace accordingly instead of the people taking it upon themselves to judge men’s hearts on God’s behalf. God’s grace transcends actions and the “sin” people are so hung up on that Jesus covered when He died on the cross, and we accepted that. I wish people would stop trying to overcomplicate God.So are you actually mailing this letter, or just posting it on the blog? Just a question…

  6. Good times here Steve. I am however surprised that you didn’t mention anything directly about how Dobson and some other Christian-faced clown (I don’t bother to remember any of their names, an ability I’m sure God wishes he had!) publicly denounced not only Haggard, but his entire congregation, as being irrelevant, and invalid. I saw it on the “Daily Show”, one of the last true sources of real information.So, I also wanted to speak on this real quick. One of the great misnomers of the ‘modern’ church, is that its function is to heal, fix, nurish, or fill individual Christians. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is OUR responsibility to grow in to a personal relationship with God, not the churches. In other words, the function of the church is to save as many souls as possible, and then to worship God…Period. The health of our relationship to God is an individual effort. That’s not to say that we can’t call upon our fellow brothers and sisters for spiritual guidance and support, but we surely should not lean on, or expect the church to simply pump us full of everything we need to have a happy-go-lucky time with God. The Holy Ghost is in all of us Christians ALL of the time, not just when “two or three are gathered”, as the popular saying goes (that’s actually referring to something completely different, look it up).What does any of this have to do with Haggard? Good question… no seriously, I just think this whole Haggard thing is a great example of the lazy nature of the modern church: we (the proverbial “we” that is) would rather have the church handle the whole getting-to-know-God thing than actually taking some responsibility for the personal relationship that God wants with us. Church has a very real and important function under God’s plan, but it is very different than what we as individual Christians (the compontents of the church) have been called to do.Thanks for letting me rant… SPC should make up the administration for the 2008 presidency: Stern/Stewart!… oh and by the way, what’s the point of replacing a letter with an asterisks, when we ALL know what the missing letter is in that ‘mysterious’ four letter word!?!?! Say what you mean, or don’t say it at all. In my opinion, “Christian cusswords” are worse than the offensive word itself.

  7. lowendaction,1. My friend, you used misnomer wrong (I won’t bother about spelling because I’m dyslexic and can’t seem to spell anything with more than 3 letters). 2. More importantly though, I think you missed the point of the post. As I read it (and I too could be wrong), the point wasn’t to say that the church should be trying to “fix” Ted. It was that the church should be offering Ted grace because right now he is fully exposed to the world; blemishes and all. Or more so, that Ted should realize that he has already been granted grace by God in that he now has freedom from the façade of a perfect man he once presented.

  8. Senor Jefe,I remember the old days when people would laugh at jokes“Must be from 1 Shefrog 3:16 (with a reference to 3 Headupmyarse 4:12)”That was a nice take off my comment- I’ll take that as a compliment of my apparent whit – wink wink

  9. Steve and SCPeeps, I just wanted to appologize for commenting off topic. Is there anything more annoying? Me thinks not.But I do believe that when God puts something on your heart you gotta let it fly. I hope I made some kind of sense with those comments.Thanx for this truely liberating forum steve. I believe you have tapped into a very modern, very real new way for the CHURCH to fellowship, and for that I thank you.

  10. There is that whole “by their fruits you will know them” thing… and in Pastor Ted’s case, I’m not talking about gay sex. I’m talking about lies and false accusations. I don’t recall him every apologizing to Mike Jones for calling him a liar. I guess fags don’t count as neighbors, so you can’t really bear false witness against them.

  11. <>And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10)<>I am thankful for God’s grace in Haggard’s situation, because the church will never extend it to him.

  12. sorry to chase the rabbits.i love the wrap up to the letter. obviously, not a lot of people that were influenced by haggard and his clique are going to be able to accept who he is now. the most important thing, i think, is whether ted is going to be able to accept who he is now.

  13. Spot on. Who are we to “fix” other people?Steve, it could be the song that’s playing on my speakers, or some other factor, but part three felt like a huge bear hug of love. I hope Ted actually gets to reads this letter.

  14. Hi ninjanun!!!!This is me waving from the back pew, since your obviously one of the front pewersSo good to see you sister nun

  15. lowend,leaving people to develop their own interpretations is what got everything all screwed up the second time. (the first was the closed group that got to make all of the decisions)there’s a happy middle, i’m sure, but i’m guessing we’ll never find it.saving souls is the job of the holy spirit…we can’t save anyone.

  16. Awesome stuff, especially “falling into grace”. I think we all need to do that every now and then to realize how great God can be.

  17. You know, it shouldn’t be surprising how revolutionary this idea of grace really is in Christian circles. Look at how much resistance Jay Bakker (Jim Bakker’s son, now ran Revolution Church in Atlanta and now Brooklyn) has gotten from preaching just that — genuine grace. I don’t think modern Christianity/Evangelicalism has really decided whether God fixes you, or whether you fix yourself and then God accepts you. They would say its the former, of course, but then again you’re not allowed into the church building until you’ve stopped drinking, smoking, being gay, etc.

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