Monday, November 06, 2006
A "haggard" ministry
(see the dictionary definition)
Here it is again - the ultimate hypocrisy! And again we are wounded, the body of Christ. How can someone end up doing things that are so far afield from what he represents and worse, what he preaches? There are some clues.
I can't believe that I visited the New Life church in Colorado Springs not long ago. it was the end of 2004, when I began my travels across the U.S. It was winter and I took my two cats in a Dodge Neon, heading South - the passion of every Minnesotan. The reason I was at this church was not because of seeing Ted Haggard on TV specials where he was more or less a spokesman for evangelical Christianity. It was because of the young man who wrote most of the music for the Desperation band, a contemporary worship band that embodies the deepest worship and the greatest anointing of any American worship band I've heard so far.
This young man (I've forgotten his name) was leading worship at New Life church in addtion to his work in the Desperation Band. I heard which church he was at and decided to check it out.
I arrived in the afternoon. Colorado was wonderfully sunny and warmer than home. I was enjoying that.
There is a building next to the huge church building that houses the sanctuary. This building is the "international prayer center" also run by New Life. I entered the prayer center and was greeted by a receptionist. I talked to her for a while and then went to check out the bookstore and look around. It had this opulence and this conspicuous materialism written all over it. I thought, "ugh - megachurch, megabucks!"
It just smelled so much the same as a church in Minneapolis that I attended. I attended until I could no longer stand their constant pleas for money. I just thought, "I didn't come this far to find the same thing that turned me off back home!"
There was a worship service that night, a Saturday, and I didn't even go, in spite of the anointed, talented young man I had hoped to see. I was just too depressed about the "top of the iceberg" I was seeing. I knew there would be more to be disappointed about that I hadn't yet seen.
Ted Haggard began down the wrong road when he let ministry become this big business, when he allowed his ministry to become this megachurch that took in lots of dollars but most likely didn't stoop to get involved in the lives of all its parishioners. Here are the mistakes he made:
1. He allowed ministry to become a road to wealth and he succumbed to the temptations of wealth.
2. By being "on top" he succumbed to the temptation to avoid accountability. He was too good for everyone and didn't have to answer to anyone. In that state he went as far as living a double life.
3. He didn't see that Satan would try to deceive and snare him, especially in his position of being highly respected.
Why is it that men like Haggard (Swaggert and others) seem to enjoy the fact that they have hidden sins, living exactly contrary to what they preach? The only answer could be pride.
How this hurts all those in ministry who labor and sweat to make ends meet while waiting for provision from God, and who pour their hearts, souls, minds and bodies into meeting the needs of those in their care!
Hypocrisy kills. My father lived a double life as a pastor and it almost ruined me and my brothers and sisters as far as faith. He preached the word and lived a lie. In my father's case he has always seen himself as beyond reproach and always right, unable to look at himself in a mirror. We could never understand why and we still don't understand since he hasn't changed. He inflicted pain on me and my siblings and to this day continues to berate, degrade, criticize and abuse my mother. She forgives and forgives, but unfortunately, has been an "enabler" by never forcing him to confront himself, perhaps by leaving him. As a pastor he could live without accountability, having only "yes" men (his family) surrounding him.
He's afraid to abuse me any more because he does feel somewhat guilty about maybe screwing up my life. He has apologized to me, so he hasn't been a total failure. He did show love in some ways throughout our childhoods as well.
But it is a mystery to this day how a man can live such a double life and then live with himself. We all pray "God save us" from such a life, and save us from such people.
photo: abc news