My heart goes out to Ted Haggard, and especially to his family. The collateral damage to sin is devastating. Let us never forget the impact our actions have on others.
Mr. Haggard doesn�t need a kick in the ribs from me. Sadly, we all struggle with sin. I am no exception. It is a sad, sordid story that is repeated daily in America. Ted Haggard�s fall seems greater because people had elevated him so high; putting him on a pedestal that he didn�t deserve. He is a sinner, just like the rest of us.
We are treading on dangerous ground in the American Church. We love to engage in hero-worship, and unfortunately, pastors are most vulnerable, gleefully receiving the flock�s adulation. The pastor is only one of the parts in the Body of Christ. Sadly, in most churches, Sunday has become a spectator sport where most sit and watch the man in the pulpit perform. He becomes the show, and in some cases thousands flock to feed off of every word that spills from the pastor�s lips. Glorification of personality, especially in the Church, grieves the heart of God.
But I will save that commentary for another day.
I continue to be amazed as I scan the TV on Sunday mornings. In most cities, Sunday morning TV has become a haven for those who want to �preach the Gospel.� I wouldn�t be as discouraged if they really did�preach the Gospel. Instead they regurgitate over the airwaves a humanistic Gospel that is nothing short of a life-enhancement seminar designed to make our journey here more enjoyable.
Go ahead; scan your dial on Sundays. See if I am wrong. Most of the sermons you will hear focus on how much the Lord wants you to be happy and prosperous, which by the way, I think He does. But that is a by-product of salvation, not the goal. Last Sunday as Ted Haggard was on my mind, I did some note taking as I flipped. Here are some of the sermons I heard:
That was just until my thumb got sore from flipping! Go to this website, or this one, here, or here. Do your own search and you will not find that one thing the preachers need to mention; the thing that is strangling the Church.
That subject doesn�t sell many books or CDs, and it sure doesn�t fill a church. Visit Ted Haggard�s church�s website. Do you see sin and repentance mentioned anywhere on that page?
It makes me want to weep, what we have allowed Christianity to become. Christ died to give me a better life�what a cheapening of His sacrifice. I John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.�
Sin is of the Devil. It is rebellion against God. God hated sin so much he sacrificed His Boy�.wouldn�t you think we would talk more about that rather than using the Gospel to enhance our fleshly desires?
Ezekiel 18:3 �For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son�both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.�
Americans� souls are sick and dying. But we want to put a salve on the flesh.
The Church Growth Movement will tell you that preaching on sin is a no-no. Read this, scroll down to Joel Osteen�s interview with Larry King, where he admits he doesn�t talk about sin! Is it any wonder he has 30,000 members in his church?
I�m a sinner, let there be no mistake about that. Like everyone else I have �besetting sins� that constantly are knocking at my heart. But as I once told my pastor, �please preach the Truth to us. When I go to church I don�t want to be told how great I am�I want to be told how much I am missing the mark. I want to be challenged. �Be Holy� Christ said. Please Pastor; challenge me to live that way.�
The slick-haired TV preachers seem to have it all together. They have the new trinity of fame, fortune, and power. And whether we will admit it or not, most American�s flock to those churches because they desire to have what the pastor has�the new trinity�and it�s flesh-pleasing benefits.
I wonder how much all of that means to Ted Haggard now.
Please understand, Ted Haggard is not the exception, his sin was merely exposed. All of the �plastic pastors� are fighting demons of their own, praying secretly that their sin will not be discovered. How do I know that? They all live in a flesh suit. In fact, the higher you go up the ladder the greater the temptations. Different levels, different devils. You think it is hard fighting pride where you are now, imagine what it would be like when you receive a White House invitation, or regularly appear on TV around the world.
I can�t help but wonder if Pastor Haggard would be in this situation if he had spent more time preaching against sin. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is God�s smoke alarm. It warns you that it is time to flee the impending doom. Perhaps if sin had been a greater focus in the ministry it wouldn�t have been as easy to hide behind that isn�t-everything-great grin. As most pastors will tell you, when they preach on sin, they find they are preaching to themselves.
Temptations abound but the Apostle Paul�s solution was simple: �Flee immorality.� I Corinthians 6:18. Being born-again does not mean temptation ceases; it only provides a way of escape. We have to make the decision to run when the smoke alarm goes off.
Apart from Jesus, who was the greatest man the world has ever seen? Moses? David? Joshua? Daniel? Samson? We could certainly get a discussion going on that one. But fortunately, Jesus already answered the question for us.
Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen one greater than John the Baptist:
None greater than John the Baptist, huh? Isn�t that amazing? John the Baptist was not welcomed into the churches of his day. He spent most of his time living in the wilderness eating locust and wild honey. He didn�t have a huge following, no multi-media productions, no books and CD�s to promote. His message was simple and Jesus said it was the most important message ever delivered. What was that message?
Matthew 3:1-2 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.� We could learn something from that radical.
Ted Haggard won�t be the last to fall. Many more are afflicted with the illness. Sin is nothing more than soul-sickness. Americans are rotting in their souls and instead of a pastorate of John the Baptist�s trumpeting the cure, America�s pulpits are filled with snake-oil salesman marketing the �blessings of God,� feeding our flesh, increasing the butts and the bucks.
Luke 13: 2-5 �And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.�
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" 1 Peter 4:17
Ecclesiastes 12:13 �Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.�
is the cure for soul-sick America. America needs some John the Baptists.
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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.
We are treading on dangerous ground in the American Church. We love to engage in hero-worship, and unfortunately, pastors are most vulnerable, gleefully receiving the flock�s adulation. The pastor is only one of the parts in the Body of Christ. Sadly, in most churches, Sunday has become a spectator sport where most sit and watch the man in the pulpit perform.