Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Come Out Of Hiding...

I've been reading Ted Haggard's books for nearly a decade. They have taught me a great deal over the years. I also had the opportunity, I would even say it was a privilege, of spending two days with him and other pastors in Red Deer four years ago. It was an amazing time of grace and growth.

I have been saddened by the events that have come to light in the last few days about Haggard's sexuality. I still treasure the learnings that God brought me through Ted Haggard, and I love him as a person.

Ted came out of hiding with the following letter that was read on Sunday at New Life Church, and I offer it to you as an instrument of God's grace in your own life.

My Dear New Life Church Family,

I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you.

I have an overwhelming, all-consuming sadness in my heart for the pain that you and I and my family have experienced over the past few days. I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment to all of you.

I asked that this note be read to you this morning so I could clarify my heart's condition to you. The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I've said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. The fact is, 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.

The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. Our church's overseers have required me to submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family. I created this entire situation. The things that I did opened the door for additional allegations. But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.

It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem was not with her, my children, or any of you. It was created 100% by me.

I have been permanently removed from the office of Senior Pastor of New Life Church. Until a new senior pastor is chosen, our Associate Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, will assume all of the responsibilities of the office. On the day he accepted this new role, he and his wife, Aimee, had a new baby boy. A new life in the midst of this circumstance—I consider that confluence of events to be prophetic. Please commit to join with Pastor Ross and the others in church leadership to make their service to you easy and without burden. They are fine leaders. You are blessed.

I appreciate your loving and forgiving nature, and I humbly ask you to do a few things:

1. Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.

2. Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.

3. Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his actions will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn’t violate you; I did.

4. Please stay faithful to each other. Perform your functions well. Encourage each other and rejoice in God’s faithfulness. Our church body is a beautiful body, and like every family, our strength is tested and proven in the midst of adversity. Because of the negative publicity I’ve created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.

Gayle and I need to be gone for a while. We will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body. We love you as our family. I know this situation will put you to the test. I’m sorry I’ve created the test, but please rise to this challenge and demonstrate the incredible grace that is available to all of us. Ted Haggard

Ted's wife Gayle shared this letter:

Dear Women of New Life Church,

I am so sorry for the circumstances that have led me to write this letter to you today. I know your hearts are broken; mine is as well. Yet my hope rests steadfastly in the Lord who is forever faithful.

What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death “do us part.” We started this journey together and with the grace of God, we will finish together.

If I were standing before you today, I would not change one iota of what I have been teaching the women of our church. For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case. My test has begun; watch me. I will try to prove myself faithful.

I love you all so much, especially you young women—you were my delight. To all the church family of new Life Church—Ted and I are so proud of you. You are all we hoped you would be. In our minds, there is no greater church.

As you try to make sense of these past few days, know that Ted believes with all his heart and soul everything he has ever taught you, those things you are putting into practice. He is now the visible and public evidence that every man (woman and child) needs a Savior. We are grateful for your prayers for our family.

I hold you forever in my heart, Gayle Haggard

Is the Father whispering anything to you through these letters?

Self-knowledge is a gift from God, not the result of any clever introspection that we do. Come out of hiding today.


Blogger Bob Stenhouse said...

I found his letter and repentance to be remarkably and graciously candid and real. I'm not sure what his teaching has been but it sure is a prompting in my spirit that my journey with Christ must remain authentic and real, the good the bad and the ugly. Our struggles need to be confessed on a regular basis lest we become self-righteous and self deceived. I wonder if he engaged in any confessional preaching? Which, while not changing the circumstance, may have softened the blow from his detractors. His church community and the overall Body can learn and grow from this.
"and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." rom 8:28

That is my prayer for Ted and Gayle Haggard.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Sandy Miller said...

My first reaction to the news of Ted Haggard was heart wrenching, somewhat equivilent to hearing of a tragic accident. Although Ted is not a close personal friend I still recall the first book of his I read, the conference I attended and his teaching on "The Life Giving Church," which has been just that for me. Now, I have that opportunity to view this situation from the "Tree of knowledge of good and evil," or be life- giving. I am deeply saddened by his choices, yet quickened with hope for full restoration. I also am in awe of Gayle his wife. For whom of us when we say "for better or worse" can really imagine the worse to be something so grotest. It is easy to love the loveable, but it is the dark side lirking in us all that is the grotest. I pray we will be able to extend grace and that we will see God at his finest as this couple is restored with the Christian community modeling the way.

This is also an opportune time for self examination and reflection...

5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In supporting individuals and families living with addictions, I've become aware of how conduct similar to Ted's can be a form of 'acting out behavior' associated with an addiction.
Currently, select therapists and treatment centres are offering recovery programs aimed at assisting people with sexual (and love) addictions; in some cases, substance abuse is a component, though this isn't always the case.
While I don't have personal experience with Ted & Gayle's situation, in my support of others, I know that there's a connection between following the ego, or staying connected to God, our source. Each one of us manifests ego driven desires; some of them may look more 'grotesque' than others but I believe they're really one in the same. Any time I'm unloving, fearful, inconsiderate, thoughtless, or live from a place that doesn't honor my true nature, I'm 'falling from grace.' I fall every day.
The letters written by Ted & Gayle are a testament to their commitment to heal. The pain they feel is the pain we each feel when we've transgressed, though many of us never have to be so public in acknowledging our mistakes. Sometimes when things are so visible, there's more momentum, incentive and support in the healing when our (former)premier admitted his alcoholism. It's rather difficult to disguise the truth when you're a public figure (though many try). It takes courage to be truthful, and how liberating!

4:35 PM  

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