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January 30, 2009

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Cole NeSmith

I saw the documentary. I emailed Glenn with some questions. In addition to his response, he sent me here. Being far removed from the details, it was helpful to get another perspective on the situation. Thanks for posting it.

It seems that one of the main questions here is, "why would Ted re-emerge?" And I think the answer lays in why the documentary was so painful to watch for me. The man was just lonely. He had been rejected and forced to leave his home and the people he loved. In his time of biggest need, he was abandoned by the people he needed the most.

From an organizational standpoint, it seems to make sense to ask him to leave for a while. But from a relational standpoint, it was counter-intuitive for both the church and Haggard.

Another question in the article was, "why would Ted preach the things he preached and then live the life he lived." I can almost guarantee you that Ted was preaching out of 1. what he wanted to do and 2. what he knew would happen. Why didn't Ted confess his thorn? The response from the overseers is answer enough.

Is it possible that the reason he didn't live out in the open and ask for help - The reason he went hurling downward as a result of acting out on his thoughts - was because there was no environment of love and redemption in which he could cry out? Gauging by the reaction of the news once it was made public, I'd say yes.

I think there was a hard answer and an easy answer to "what do we do now?" I think the overseers just decide to take the easy way out without thinking of the message they were sending. With the precedence of excommunication, will anyone in the New Life community feel the freedom to express their sin for fear of rejection?

There is no condemnation in my heart toward either Ted or New Life. I just pray that there is expedient reconciliation and that God's view of forgiveness is exemplified sooner rather than later.

Aaron Stern

Carol - I totally agree with you. As Christians we are to love and of course this can look a lot of different ways...prayer, reaching out, etc. It is also vital that we all recognize and accept our own and others sinfulness.

Mike - thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers and encouragement.

Carol Prentiss

Sometimes we can over-analyze and under-love. So, do we owe Ted Haggard anything? Yes! We owe him the same thing we owe anyone else--to continue to love. That might mean different things--praying, setting boundaries, reaching out. But we don't stop loving.
To avoid pride, we realize that "it could've been me." If we respond by saying, "I never would've done what Ted did," then we deceive ourselves, because we are all capable of the most heinous sins. We don't know what we would've done if we were in Ted's shoes because we aren't Ted. We show mercy when we realize that healing from sexual abuse can be a long process. This was baggage that Ted brought into leadership. Yes his sins were great and no, he shouldn't be in leadership, and trust is an issue. But the moment we think we are above him and his sin, that's when we are guilty of pride, just as evil of a sin, which is why Lucifer fell. We all would've done what Adam and Eve did. We all have some type of baggage. And given Ted's experiences, we might have done what he did. Ted has lost a lot, so he has a lot of grieving to do, as does his family. What do we do when a family is grieving? Could our kindness help repentance to continue its work? If we were in Ted's shoes right now, how would we want the Body to treat us? Love is first of all, patient, and secondly, kind. Do we have hope for Ted? I do, if only because the Almighty is his God. I recommend Michael English's book--The Prodigal Comes Home.

Mike Collins

Aaron,

I've been through this type of Church situation 4 times and one of those church scandals was even MORE public than Ted's if you can believe it. As a result of the first moral failure of a church I went to, my grandfather went to federal prison for 2+ years.

I know the pain of moral failures and their effects all too well. I have seen first hand what my pastor's sin cost me, my family, and my community. You are not alone. You are not the first. Hang in there. This stuff comes in waves.

I remember that Pastor Ed started a new church in Tulsa about 2 years after every thing happened. That was tough and messy for the staff who were left behind. Usually this stuff goes away after about 4 years.

grace and peace to you!
Mike

Aaron Stern

Brad - no doubt Ted had an impact on the New Life staff, both positively and negatively. Since the scandal there has been a great amount of assessment and evaluation to seperate the two.

Cindy - I can see that our fundamental difference is that you think that to love means you unconditionally accept those who hurt you "as if they didn't hurt you". I think the book "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend would be a helpful read for you to unpack a healthier view of love, trust, acceptance and forgiveness.

Brad Herman

This piece by Patton Dodd is extremely well written and I fully agree with his final analysis of the tragedy of Ted’s continued attempts to be in the lime light. I am sure that this will fade.

My only concern is that I wonder if any from the New Life staff should have been the person to write this. I spent time around Ted. Not as much as people on staff did. I spent a small fraction of time with him, but I knew something was seriously wrong at New Life. The pride that Ted exhibited was absolutely enormous, and it seemed to trickle down throughout the senior pastor staff. Not to everybody, but quite a few of the young staff members were infected by the same ego. That said, I overlooked this to stay “in” with New Life. Today I am ashamed that I didn’t either confront the issue or at least separate myself from it. Ultimately I was separated from it, but not by my own doing. I have heard from several New Life staff members and they now admit to seeing the cracks in the foundation, but they were either enamored or afraid to say anything about it. Ted made the decisions he made. He is at fault! But how many of us are at fault for riding the New Life train even though we knew there was something wrong with the tracks?

I think there are a lot of questions to be asked, but will we take the time to thoroughly think through what happened and look at the deeper implications.

Cindy

Love your enemies. It's easy to love those you get along with, agree with and those that don't hurt you. God calls us to a higher level of Love. To love.. that's when others will see Jesus in you.

Cindy

Thank you for your thoughts. What I'm saying is that forgiveness is an act of obedience. Yes, "to treat them as if they never hurt you". That is what Jesus does. I understand the lack of trust issues that is why I mentioned "boundaries". When the Prodigal came home...the Father ran out to meet him.... do you think he trusted him to never hurt him again? Does Jesus trust that we will never hurt Him again? All I am trying to convey...is those that are hurt..tend to make it all about themselves. The Father didn't forgive from a distance and speak of trust issues and display and blog about how he thought he "should" act and respond. He was happy to see His son return and ran out to meet him. Repentance is a humbling and beautiful thing. How many times have we repented...and the love of God was there and He ran to (me) us....? I am grieved for those at New Life family. I'm sad for any brother and sister and even in my own struggles that are hurting, struggling with sin temptation and more. I just see so much bitterness and judgement and as the world watches...let's rejoice and be like JESUS..acceptance (period)and receiving of those that have a heart of repentence. God knows the motives and the condition of the heart. I'm sorry you were hurt and others by Ted. I love my son. I wanted to be here to support and yes, protect him and help him with his own pain.
Let's see others the way Jesus does. That's all.
If true that Jeff Dahmer and Ted Bundy..accepted Jesus and their heart had repented...they are with the LORD! Hallelujah! Even the worst of the worst...make it! We are no different yet people like to say that they are and compare.
Digging deeper and keeping our eyes on Christ and responding to all situations in love. Tough Love absolutely..but it's LOVE.

Aaron Stern

Cindy - I am amazed that you are so offended by the feelings and experiences of my friend. You jump to some strong conclusions about me and others at New Life. I think it is important to understand the difference between forgiveness and trust. Though I have forgiven Ted, he has not regained trust. It is also important to understand that love does not mean blind acceptance.

Carol - Good questions. I hope that there is fruit that accompanies the public repentance.

Mary - thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I think we often don't realize the impact we have had on others because we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.

Brett - you are right...there has been a wide range of emotions, but forgiveness has always been a priority.

Matt - I agree, it did seem that Ted threw Gayle under the bus...I hope she recovers. And we are definitely not slaves to our impulses.

Andrea - You can be assured that there was no "cover up" at New Life as the media would like you to believe. I totally resonate with your frustration - remember though that this whole situation is a result of the actions of Ted.

Toby - Totally agree. The fall of a leader should cause us to intensly search our hearts. It is so important to live in the light and have a strong healthy community.

Brian

Awesome truth. Aaron post it on FB. We all know what he is planning, a new church plant. Stand firm, a house of cards cannot withstand the slightest breeze, much less a storm!

Cindy

P.S. Let's rejoice and party for all those protigals come home to Jesus. Repentence is a very exciting things. Where's the joy? It's just all picked a part...of how, and how public and he didn't say what you think he should have said it and how.

Let's rejoice and love...

Cindy

I'm sad to hear of the majority of these comments. As all addictions and dysfunction, we are to love and forgive. Ted is on a path and although many disagree on how he is walking...lets rejoice that he's walking with Jesus. The limelight and attention can and probably is a sort of addiction in itself.

New Life has put way too much emphasis on a man.

Love covers a multitude of sins. The body of believers much not judge. The woman was CAUGHT in the act of adultry... Think about it. How humitating...and brought publicly to be stoned. How are you different...but Jesus said Who can cast the first stone? No one could...Can you? Nor did Jesus condemn him. Ted and us all have to go before the Father. No excuses, no one there to defend except Jesus, Himself. He paid the price. Have you forgotten your sin? Have you forgotten who and why you were save and from what? Has everyone lost sight?
Sin is Sin...pride is pride, love of money and fame....All sexual immorality is sin. Sex before marriage is sin. People talk about gay sex but seldom confess their own sex outside marriage hetersexually. It's all sin. We are sinners...Jesus did die for the unrighteous...not the "righteous". Are we any better?
Remember Jesus is not done with Ted nor me. None of this was a surprise to Him. He saw this on the day at the cross...as He is all knowing yet he used him to preach truth...even if he was struggling. He didn't feel safe and I can see why. Woa...what is the matter with those who say that they are born again...do they no longer struggle? Whoever thinks that they are beyond temptation, whoever thinks they are better than the next...watch out... your pride will overtake you.
I'm ashamed of New Life Church and the overseers. I know Ted and Gayle personally. I have a testimony of my own, married to a man who eventually died of AIDS due to his sin. The wage of sin (for us all) is DEATH.
Rather than continue blogging and feeding..pray for Ted and his family, pray for yourselves, pray that JESUS comes soon to take us all home. And again, have you all forgotten that it's NEVER against flesh and blood. The enemy is out to kill and destroy...and often he wins. My mom committed suicide...he won...Ted gave into his temptation, he won. I know we can live victoriously...and I have...there are seasons where we are weak...I know in Christ, we are strong..don't forget we are human.
Love thy neighbor as yourself. Is there so many that don't like themselves...inability to love? Can we love like Jesus loves? My oh my...do we want to be the church that discusses the LORD? It's simple. Above all LOVE.
Correction is needed...who couldn't or didn't confront Ted in his behaviors? What are people afraid of? To confront in love is what we need to do to restore. The church was WRONG. Yes, Ted should have no longer been Pastor...I understand but church is like a hospital...Sick people with hurts.
We worship together and pray together but for what? If have bitterness, etc. or unforgiveness in your heart, it's all in vain.
Are you a hypecrit? Have you ever been? Are you open and confess your sin so that you can be healed? R U perfect in every way?
Ponder your own life and I do mine, pray continuously and above all LOVE.

Carol Prentiss

Thanks for posting this Aaron. Very good article. I agree with Andrea that it would've been better for it all to come out at once. In this case, exposing the sin rather than covering it, might have been a better course(Eph. 5:11). I thought that the apology given on Oprah was needed--to see him "in person"--but it is sad that we left that up to the secular media. Maybe he needs to see a video of people telling him how his sin affected them and if they forgive him.
It is clear from his situation that when you sin sexually, you sin against yourself. I think God is giving a very public warning to the church about this type of sin, including the unfaithfulness of pornography(1 Cor. 6:18).
New Life did all they could to help him but maybe in the future we should stop using money as much as a tool for restoration. He was/is certainly entangled or "caught" and mainly needed contact from "spiritual" people (Gal. 6:1). I am unclear as to why he was struggling financially when he had been given that much money to live off of.
All of us need to "continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 2:12). Also, to continue to love, forgive and show mercy(Rom. 13:8). It is right to judge his actions but not his heart. My prayers go out to our church family and to the Haggards.

Lannie Morton

Excellent post. We are so saddened at how this has all played out. We love Ted, and we do forgive him but I must say that you are exactly right. He likes the camara a whole lot.

Mary Dahlke

This a very well written article. I don't think Ted realizes the brevity of his reemergence. We as leaders need to understand the weight of responsibility when we lead people. Our influence can help them or as in Ted's case hurt them.

There has to be a fear of God, a healthy respect for the way we lead. We need to lead people to the feet of Jesus, not to the feet of our own pedestals. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Like Joseph, in the Old Testament, when Potiphar's wife went after him. He ran! And said, "How can I sin against God?" God was able to use him becuase he remained broken, humble and a servant. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. What My husband and I love about the young men at New Life that we know they embrace a leadership style that is what I like to call, "The Servant Leader". We are so very proud to know you and are praying for all of you!

Brett Miller

When I heard Ted say in an article that the church told him to go to hell my heart dropped a little bit. As a person who was an intern at New Life for the year that this happened I can tell you that this is not what the church said to him. From the overseers to the staff members that I knew personally, yes it was hard and there was some anger; but there was also forgiveness. It was out of love for Ted and love for the church that they had him leave Colorado. And I appreciate this article for addressing that.

Matt Stallbaum

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said he is trying to earn an honest living. He has never earned an honest living. He appeared perfect because he was an expert at lying and concealment. I have a feeling his comeback will include a book and maybe even starting a church. He blamed leadership for kicking him out and said if it was up to the church they would have forgiven him and accepted him. At this point who he was is all a myth, it's going to take years to discover who Ted Haggard really is.

It's obvious that Ted is confused about who he is and what he believes. To follow a man who is confused is like the blind leading the blind. Same with Oprah she is confused too, one week she believes this, the next she is on to something new. It looks like they are in good company together.

Some things he said on Oprah were very twisted. He dismissed personal responsibility with thoughts that we have. I have thought about killing people, hurting people, stealing stuff, and all sorts of stuff, but I still have personal choice on what thoughts I accept. Some thoughts are inspired by demonic power, and we accept them or deny them. The Bible says to take every thought captive into the obedience of Christ and Ted denied that on the TV making his wife look like a fool and giving Oprah a high five. It would take 10 years minimum for me to trust this man in a Pastoral position.

My thoughts and prayers go out to New Life, the leadership there and his wife that Ted threw under the bus.

Andrea Burley

Thank you for putting that essay up. It does a good job at describing how I feel about the whole thing. There wasn't enough anger and frustration written to completely describe how I feel about it. I feel there was much deception in "covering up" the other instances. If we, as a church body, would have heard everything all at once, instead of in pieces as the years go by, then we would have had the time to heal. Now, our wounds and anger have come open again and it is going to take more time to heal. I just pray that there wasn't anything else that was covered up that will be brought up later. I am not sure I can handle hearing more. To not see Ted Haggard's name or face in the media would be such a great blessing to us all.

Jody Earley

Thank you for sharing this.

Toby Smith

God seems to move in ways that don't always makes us feel good. As the Church, maybe we should really look at ourselves.

Joanne Shoho

I feel bad that your church has 2 go thru this trial Aaron, but w/ God's help, you guys will get thru it and become stronger...

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