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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Another’s Sin Is Our Opportunity

Humanity’s sinfulness was God’s opportunity to demonstrate his great love for us. When others sin, it gives us an opportunity to be like Christ in their lives and demonstrate his healing love. Too often roles are confused and we think the sins of another are our opportunity to demonstrate our moral superiority, our intellectual supremacy, or our power and influence. If we enjoy lording over others, then their sin is our opportunity to rule over them. But if our primary role is to be reflective of God’s Kingdom on earth, then another’s sin is our opportunity to be like Jesus by identifying with, healing, and serving the sinner.

Every time we break rules we give power and rights away and, to some degree, lose control of our lives. In the church, when we sin against God and consequently our brethren, we lose influence and inadvertently give others authority over us. In society, when we break the law or violate social norms, we forfeit our freedoms and lose the power to make the choices for ourselves that would have been assumed prior to breaking the law, thus making us more vulnerable to others.

No doubt, it’s our responsibility as Christians to do all we can to grow in Christ so sin diminishes in our lives while holiness increases. Simultaneously, we should grow in obedience to civil law and do everything within our power to build an honorable reputation. Often we focus on this personal process, which we assume is a reflection of our character and godliness. No doubt, to some degree, it is. But that might not be the core reflection of our faith that reveals our eternal destiny.

People with good parents, good citizens, and good students become better people and better citizens as they mature. Many non-believers are just as moral and law abiding as believers. God highly values our personal integrity and he also values others, especially the weak, which is why it’s our response to others in their most vulnerable moments that might reveal whether or not we understanding and embrace the core New Testament message with power. Our response to the sins of another might reveal more about our godliness than the common measurement systems we are all so used to using.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25:31-46 that the difference between the sheep and the goats in the final judgment will be based on how we responded to others. The idea here is that our response toward others in a difficult position reveals whether we are biblically inspired satanic judges deceived into believing that our personal righteousness proves that we are genuine believers, or if we are indeed the healing heart and hand of Christ. In other words, when others have lost their power because of catastrophe, whether self-imposed or something outside of their control, our response to them reveals the true “us.” Certainly, when another is vulnerable because of their sin, our responses reveal whether or not we embody the Gospel, or if we have intellectually assented to a set of religious values that, in reality, condemn us as we condemn others (Romans 2:1-4). The sins of others afford the opportunity that reveal our core. It’s our response to others in their weakened state that reveals whether we are a sheep or a goat.

When another sins, the weakness that will accompany that sin gives each of us an opportunity to either distance ourselves and be their accusers, pointing out their weakness and failures, and using it against them; or we can be like Jesus and actually draw closer to them in their distress and offer a hand of love, kindness, and some practical support to make their lives a little better. It’s our choice. I think we’re learning about how to have a Love Reformation.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

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Authentic New Testament Solutions

Love is Our Marker

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

When Jesus said this to his disciples, he was launching a revolution. He didn’t say that education, power, or even theological persuasion would identify his disciples. Nor did he say that training in cross cultural communications or evangelism would prove discipleship. Even though all of these things are important, Jesus said love was the marker of a disciple that would prove to the world that we are, in fact, believers. Interestingly, Bible schools, seminaries, church conferences, and churches have vibrant discussions about many important subjects, but often love is an addendum if mentioned at all. Most evangelicals embrace the need to reach others for the cause of Christ, but this exhortation from Jesus is not central to most discussions on evangelism.

Why? I believe it’s because love is confusing. It’s easier to be committed to a religious ideology, political position, or even a social norm than it is to be loving. Love isn’t a test when the others around us respect us, look like us, act like us, or are socially appropriate around us. Neither is love difficult when it is something we market and sell to reach “those people” or the “little people.”

Christ’s love in us is authenticated when we’ve been insulted, slapped, offended, disappointed, or challenged by someone outside our normal circle of those we like. I think this is why Jesus exhorted us to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and to care for the “least of these.” Christian love is something that differentiates us from everyone else because we refuse to hate, label, judge, demonize, and dehumanize. Insisting on respecting others who are very different than we are is a core revelation of Jesus’ exhortation to all of us. We claim that we are the ones set apart because we have Christ in us, which means we’ll leave the 99 to rescue the 1, spend our free time with the socially unacceptable and those who could never benefit us. To identify, as Jesus did, and lose our reputations to become despised and rejected by those who are well respected for the sake of another is Christlike.

We are not believers because we were God’s project. Instead, out of love for us we became the subjects of his heart. He identified with the worst parts of us. To be like him, we might consider doing the same. We break out of the pack when we love – when we demonstrate that we are not part of the world’s system by choosing to love – not as a technique, but because we do, in fact, want to invest our lives in the well being of others regardless of who they are.

My wife and I went through a horrific tragedy in 2006. Prior to that tragedy, I was perceived as a benefit to the body of Christ, was socially acceptable, and, as a result, was deeply loved by many . . . or so I thought.

After my crisis, Gayle and I noted that theology made no statistical difference in the way people were responding to us. Certainly some were motivated by their commitment to Christ, but not in disproportionate numbers compared to those who did not claim any belief in Christ who also demonstrated hope and kindness toward us. There was the same amount of kindness and support from non-believers as believers. And there was the same level of hatred, judgment, suspicion, misinformation and condemnation from believers as non-believers. Based on the percentages, theology, or claiming to be a born-again Christian, didn’t seem to be a determining factor in the way people responded to us.

Thus, I’ve committed to being loving toward those in the most difficult moments of their lives. When people are nice, it’s easy.

When people are struggling, that’s when I can differentiate from the crowd, go the second mile, and sacrifice something valuable to me to make their lives better. I think I’m experiencing a love reformation.

 

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

Categories
Authentic New Testament Solutions

How Many Will God Heal?

As we decide about diet, exercise, worship, work, and recreation, we have to settle in our minds whether or not God wants us well. Once we know he wants us well, then we begin the process of doing what it take for his will to be fulfilled in our lives.

I love the way God reveals his will in the Scriptures. After God rescued the people of Israel from Egypt, he revealed his desires for them in Exodus 15:26 by saying, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

In Exodus 23:25-26, after God provided so many miracles, he repeats his desire that his people be strong by saying, “You must serve only the LORD your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness. There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives.”

Thousands of years later, God reveals that he rewards those who trust him and have faith in him by saying in Hebrews 11:6, “. . . it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” The rewards he offers are infinite. To sincerely seek him is a powerful action that strengthens every one of us. James 1:6-8 encourages all of us to be focused when we petition him by saying, “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

God loves every one of us so much he puts all of us in positions where we can choose him. He likes that, and he doesn’t lie about it. In Numbers 23:19, the Bible says, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” In contrast to our current culture where we are accustomed to people saying things they don’t mean, or not keeping their previous commitments because circumstances have changed or a situation has evolved, God says exactly what he means and always keeps his word. In 1 Kings 8:56, the Bible reminds the people of Israel that . . . “not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses.” And David expresses gratitude toward God in Psalms 119:89 by writing, “Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.”

Some would say, “If this is God’s plan, why are there so many sick people?” It’s because earth is not heaven. In heaven, no one is sick. God’s perfect desire for us is fully manifested in heaven. But here on the earth, we have had sickness among us since the fall of the human race. As a result, we not only have God’s will, but our own will, the work of evil, and natural law that combine to create our current reality. As a result, we have to take the initiative to stay well and appropriate as much of heaven as we can while on earth. That is why Jesus instructed us to pray in Matthew 6:10, “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” We know he wants us all well.

Though we see supernatural healing so often, at St. James we teach that we can do many things to live better lives, improving the potential for all of us to live a healthier life. The Scriptures teach us that our minds, our activities, and our relationships can all improve the quality of our lives. God wants us well. We will all be well in Heaven, and here on earth we can all do more to receive his healing in our lives.

So how many will God heal? Everyone who responds to him is ultimately completely healed, if not here on the earth, then in heaven. In the meantime, we can all know that he wants the best for us. That’s why we pray. Not because we are noble, but because we are needy. That’s why we meet with the brethren to celebrate on Sunday mornings. Not because we are perfect, but because we are not and are in need of fellowship with him and fellow pilgrims. Prayer stimulates the Holy Spirit’s activity, and the Holy Spirit delivers into our lives everything Jesus appropriated on the cross for us. God is for us, and with that knowledge, even life on earth can be a little better. So let’s pray and trust.

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Uncategorized

I Love Hostess CupCakes!

This morning I read about the bakers union refusing to accept the contract offer from bankrupt Hostess. If they don’t come to terms, Hostess will close and Wonder Bread, Hostess Twinkies, Fruit Pies and Ding Dongs may be gone forever. This is a big deal in our country because Hostess’ annual sales are $2.5 billion, they employ 18,300 people, and operate 33 Bakeries and 570 Bakery Retail Outlets. But most importantly, Hostess CupCakes are the perfect snack around a fire on a campout in the cool mountains of Colorado. I am 56 years old, and I love Hostess products just like I did when I was a kid.

I think the bakers union is making a mistake. Since we won the cold war, more than 2 billion people have entered the global work force, most of them wanting exactly what a Hostess Twinkie symbolizes, the American dream. Many of those who were liberated from the lack of opportunity in their government dominated economies are now highly motivated to do whatever it takes to prosper. In their newfound freedom, they want to innovate, learn, work, sell, and enjoy the profits. Advancing their skills is the door to production, which allows them a better life. We won the cold war so more people could govern themselves, increase their own value and self-worth, and prosper. Many of them are doing it.

In his book, That Used To Be Us (2011), Thomas Friedman emphasizes two developments that have changed the world forever. One is globalization. Globalization impacts every one of us right now. The production of and the prices of the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the electricity we use, and the food we eat are all impacted by globalization. We need to understand globalization and how to function productively in a globalized marketplace or we’ll be discouraged that the things we did before don’t work any more. If you are a Christian, I suggest you start by reading Thomas Friedman’s older book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (1999). It will explain some of the changes you’ve seen, even in your church. In addition, The World Is Flat (2005), also by Friedman, is a must read for anyone who desires to succeed over the next twenty years.

The second development is the information technology (IT) revolution. Here are two examples of where we are going: in the future we will need fewer teachers because, increasingly, teaching is done more accurately and more effectively by computers. With every gain teachers unions make to increase funding their own members, they are providing financial incentive for the schools to replace them with computerized education. It will happen. It’s just a matter of time. Another example are the janitors in oil refineries in Baton Rouge who can’t clean toilets unless they know how to use the computer to check in, order supplies, and report problems. Do any of you remember having to talk to someone to schedule a flight, reserve a hotel room, or make a long-distance call? Not anymore. Those jobs were not outsourced. They were replaced with IT systems. On November 11, 2012, 60 Minutes reported that manufacturers in American are looking for over 3,000,000 new employees right now, but they can’t use unskilled, unmotivated workers. They need competent workers who can think critically, communicate accurately, and who can collaborate with others. Manufacturers today are not simply looking for people who will show up, but for those who can program, operate, and maintain very expensive, complex machinery.

The workers at Hostess need to be grateful to have a job at all. Europe just slipped back into recession, which is where we may be headed. For their own good, Hostess workers need to get back to work and to take every extra moment they have to take classes to prepare them for the 21st Century workplace. Every community now has tech schools that help people learn a skill. In January of 2012, for those with less than a high school degree, unemployment was 13.8%; those with a high school degree and no college, 8.7%; those with some college or an associate degree, 7.7%, and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 4.1%. If we want to work, we need to assume the responsibility to make ourselves competent so we can offer enough value that another is willing to pay us well.

I recently led a roundtable discussion on the east coast that was attended by a very successful businessman from Dallas who was a strong Christian. In the roundtable he said he hadn’t been to church in years because it offered no value to him. The group largely agreed. 21st Century Evangelicalism has an opportunity to do a better job increasing the value of Sunday morning worship in the lives of our hearers. Life is more than spirituality and morality. Life also requires competency, wisdom, understanding and production. I believe Christ wants everyone to be better off. I think if we will do what we have encouraged the Hostess bakers to do, stop negotiating for more money, but instead be grateful, increase our value to those we serve, and produce a better product, then we will all be rewarded.

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21st Century Evangelicalism

The Value of Sin

Romans 11:32 reveals one of God’s priorities. “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone” (NLT). Think about this and read it again in the NIV, “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

God loves us so much he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us to deliver us from sin. So what would motivate him to bind us over to disobedience? He answers it himself. He wants to make sure we see his response to our sin, which reveals his heart of mercy. Could it be that our comprehending his mercy is of greater value to him than our sinless perfection? Could he be communicating that without him we are flawed, and our conscious realization of that fact motivates us to gratitude? He doesn’t want us to be weak, but even more, he wants us to know that he is our strength.

20th Century Evangelicalism rightly emphasized the destructive power of sin and its consequences, correctly encouraging all of us to repent. 21st Century Evangelicalism can now build on that foundation and teach us to respond to the sins of others like Christ does. Christ’s response to our sin is redemptive. Therefore, if we in the church start responding to one another’s sins in a redemptive way, we might better communicate the true solution to humankind’s sin problem.

In 2007, while i was in exile in Phoenix, Arizona, a globally known pastor with a large mega-church came to visit me. He said,

Ted, I want to encourage you. I don’t think I would say this to anyone else, but I believe there are two types of sin. One type, the easy type, is the kind we repent of. It’s the kind you have dealt with. The other kind is the kind I have. I have sins that build my ministry, increase my income, and actually cause me to be more respectable in the eyes of the church. They are the kinds of sins we don’t repent of, sins like– me actually believing I know more than others and am a pretty good guy. I believe I have the answers for everyone. I exaggerate church attendance and hype the impact of my ministry in order to encourage supporters. I blame sinners for the things I don’t like, and I condemn people. We don’t repent of these sins because they are respectable. But guys like you get to repent. I envy you. (paraphrased).

This pastor demonstrated to me the point I had observed–those who address sinners in public, appearing to be without sin, often have more grievous sins than the sinner to whom they are addressing. Again, the Bible is true. . . all have sinned. Without question, sin is evil and damaging. We all need to turn from every form of sin in our lives with resolve and not live in them any longer. But based on this Scripture, could it be that our response to another person’s sin reveals more about us than we think? Based on God revealing himself in response to our sin, could it be that our core is revealed by our response to the sins of another? I think so.

Our response to another person’s sin is the #1 way OUR hearts are revealed.

Our response to another person’s sin is the #1 way OUR character is revealed.

Our response to another person’s sin is the #1 indicator of whether we understand the New Testament.

God sent Jesus in response to our sin, revealing God’s essence which is love. The depth of our sin forced a public affirmation of the depth of his redemptive nature. Our weakness gave him opportunity to demonstrate his strength on our behalf. Our rebellion gave him opportunity to prove his love for us.

For us to authentically reflect Christ, we will have to see the sins of another as an opportunity to demonstrate the Gospel rather than use it as an platform to rail against the sins of others and our need to rid the world of evil. It’s just not going to happen because. . . we are the sinners, though gratefully redeemed. We are the broken, though being healed. We must not respond to another’s sin as though we ourselves are not in need of mercy. If we imply self-righteousness in our response to others, we inadvertently deny the fundamentals of the Gospel in us We might have actually become an enemy of the Gospel in the one we are condemning. When we respond with smugness or arrogance, we deny the compassion and love of Christ. I propose instead that when another person sins, we use it as our opportunity to demonstrate that we are, in fact, Christ-like.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

Categories
21st Century Evangelicalism

Is saying the salvation prayer actually being Born-Again?

During the last two generations of Evangelicalism, we’ve exclusively emphasized that our view of being born-again is the key to eternal life. We’ve also simplified the definition of being born-again so much that there is no measurable difference in life-style between those of us who claim to have been born-again and those who do not.

Jesus was clear in John 13:34 when he gave us a new command, “. . . Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” There are markers for those who are Christians. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). In John’s first epistle, he drove the point home by saying, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. but anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4:7-8).

So why aren’t born-again believers known for their love?

A few years ago, I participated in a debate on a Jewish website and said that one of the great qualities of an authentic believer in Jesus is to serve, protect the rights of, and do what we can to improve the lives of people who are not like us. I illustrated it by saying it’s an honorable and noble role for Evangelical Christians to secure the rights, safety and security of everyone, whether they be willfully disobedient and sinful, or belong to groups like the Jews, Muslims, secularists, agnostics, and others who are not persuaded that Jesus is the Son of God and that the Bible is the Word of God. Using our voices and strength to protect and serve others is not a validation of their beliefs or practices, but a demonstration of our faith in a Savior that saved us while we were yet sinners. It’s Christ-like on our part to serve others, even those whom we’ve not persuaded.

When my comments were covered in the press with typical excessive drama and misinformation, one individual wrote me out of concern for my soul: “Satan must have clapped his hands, having found another victim from inside church which he is now successfully using to establish his anti-Christian and anti-biblical filth. May God have mercy on you!”

I have no doubt that non-believers and those who don’t strive to live according to the Bible will not receive everything Christ has provided for them, but I do believe that the Bible instructs all of us to do everything we can to make life better for others, whether they are in the faith or not. After all, John wrote that “Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning” (2 John 1:6). We not only love our fellow believers in Christ, but we also extend that love to others outside our faith communities in order to represent God to them.

So why don’t we who are born-again know much about love? Sadly, the central aim for many Christian leaders isn’t abiding in and reflecting the life of Christ, birthed from a dynamic relationship with him producing fruit and life, but instead being correct according to our knowledge of what is good and what is evil . . . which we should know by now is deadly.

Secondly, I think it’s because our leaders don’t know much about love. To my knowledge, there is not one seminary or Bible school class, or even a workshop in a mega-church conference, exclusively devoted to training leaders in biblical, New Testament love and its application in a local church on a bad day. The application of biblical love in the midst of difficult situations is central to “proving to the world that we are his disciples” (John 13:35). Many Christian leaders have never seriously contemplated the application of biblical love when responding to a non-believer, a sinning Christian leader, or what we might perceive as an ungodly social trend in our community.

We who have said the salvation prayer to receive eternal life as a free gift from God may have been ushered into a discipleship process that didn’t teach us New Testament life and relationship, but instead Old Testament law that leads to death, often cloaked in “standing for righteousness” or “church discipline.” Thus, in the midst of New Testament grace, become the walking dead.

Maybe we need to rethink what it means to be born-again? Maybe we need to transition our thinking about being born-again from a one time experience in which we recite a prayer to a process of being transformed from glory to glory through Christ’s love as we grow in his lordship and grace. If our view of living in God’s kingdom doesn’t involve living for the good of others, even though we have said a salvation prayer, maybe we’ve not been born-again. When Jesus spoke of eternal life, he described the difference between the sheep and the goats was in the way we respond to socially unacceptable people (see Matthew 25:31-46). I think all of us can benefit by filling in the blanks about who the unacceptable people are to us. When asked about eternal life, Jesus taught that it included giving all we have away to the poor (Matthew 19:16-22). We’ll discuss that in a later blog.

No doubt, prayer is necessary to our born-again process, but we need to measure the effectiveness of that prayer in our lives. It could be that the evidence is found in our obedience to his command to “love one another.”

Thank you for this question. It’s a good one.

Categories
21st Century Evangelicalism

I AM WHO I AM

Moses was one of the most educated people in his generation. He was educated as the future leader of the most powerful nation on earth. He had been raised as the son of the world’s most powerful man and was groomed to rule. Consequently, he understood not only the political, economic, scientific, and social dynamics of his day, but he also understood the accepted contemporary spiritual practices. He knew and had worshipped the gods of Egypt. He understood God, or so he thought.

After committing murder and abandoning his relationships and responsibilities, he lived in exile in the desert for forty years. During this time, God met with him and identified himself as “I AM WHO I AM.” If we in the modern age wanted to say the same thing, we would say, “I am who I am, and you have to accept me as I am.” In order to fully grasp this encounter, we have to hear God speaking to Moses with some attitude in his voice; ” Are you humble yet? Stop thinking you know who I am and what I’m like. You don’t know me, and neither do those who say they know me, what I do and do not do. They think they know me and can represent me, but they misrepresent me and don’t know me as well as they think they do. I am who I am. Let me speak for myself and represent myself.”

I know the problems that develop when others presume to represent someone else. In the 2006 scandal that shook my world, I resigned, repented, confessed, and submitted. Consequently, it allowed others to speak for me without consulting me or knowing actual facts. As a result, the web is filled with distortions, misrepresenting my actions, personality, motivations, and relationships. Building on false presuppositions, many have taken broad liberties with my story without reading my books, listening to my sermons, or meeting with me. As a result, they have come to flawed conclusions. When someone tries to determine my belief systems by reading skewed reports on the web, they are deeply mistaken. Everyone should have the liberty to represent themselves. I think God doesn’t appreciate being misrepresented and wants to represent himself to each of us as well.

So for us to understand him, we have to be willing to accept that God is who he is, whether we like him or not, and whether we like what he does . . . or doesn’t do. He enters into a relationship with us just the way we are. Then the authenticity and dynamic of that relationship improves our lives. But for that relationship to be legitimate, our response to Christ’s call must be, “and I am who I am.” Then and only then can there be the beginning of a trust-saturated bond that can change our lives.

Every child has to dismiss fantasies about their parents in order to actually meet them. Every spouse has to realize that dating their spouse provided an incomplete picture, and as the years pass, they actually meet one another. It’s through the acceptance of each other that we achieve authentic relationship. We need to stop the pretense and be honest about who we are so we can have authentic relationships in order to grow. With authenticity we can proactively learn how to invest in each other’s success, have the courage to identify with one another and the wisdom to encourage one another in the most difficult situations.

To know Christ, we must accept that he is who he is. Christ is always faithful, and he never leaves us in our worst or best days. He is who he is–always faithful. And we, being who we are, can respond to his faithfulness. As Christ’s family here on the earth, we have to be willing to invest in one another in the midst of the realities of our strengths and weaknesses, good days and bad days, successes and failures.

I like that Christ accepted me, just the way I am. So in return, I accept Christ, just the way he is.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

Categories
Authentic New Testament Solutions

Just Keep Going

Every one of us is made up of a combination of characteristics. Some are pleasing; others are shameful and embarrassing. Of course, we who are Christians want the sanctifying work of God’s Spirit, Word, and the body of Christ to work in us so the negative characteristics of our lives diminish, and our positive characteristics develop. As Martin Luther so famously reminded us, we are all simultaneously saints and sinners. Our goal, of course, is to have the saintly portion of our lives far outweigh the sinner in us that raises its ugly head from time to time. I believe one of the necessary decisions we can make in order to accomplish that goal is to simply keep going.

All of the Bible greats, with the exception of Christ, experienced portions of their lives that were dark: Noah was found drunk and naked in his tent after saving the world; Abraham, whom the Bible describes as justified by his faith, lied multiple times to save his own neck; David, the man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and murderer who used his position as king to try to cover his crimes; Peter denied Christ after he walked closely with him and witnessed his divinity first hand; Paul, after his Damascus Road encounter with Christ, described himself as the chiefest of sinners, least of the apostles, and possessing a messenger of Satan within sent to humble him . The list goes on and on. With each of these Bible greats, we see victory as they move forward. Judas is a notable exception. Great remorse gripped him. He repented, declared Jesus’ innocence, and gave back the money–yet in his despair Judas killed himself, which, of course, ended his story. As a result, his betrayal defines his life and always will. But for those who kept going, their failure is only a portion of their story.

In our modern context, when we think of Bill Clinton, Michael Vick, David Letterman, and Martha Stewart, we see them as victors who didn’t submit their entire life story to their own failures, but instead chose to let resurrection define their lives. In stark contrast is Richard Nixon who, after Watergate, resigned, retired, and died. By not continuing in the narrative of his life, he inadvertently built a monument to his failure and will always be defined by Watergate. But Clinton won’t be defined by the scandal that precipitated his disbarment and impeachment. His scandal will always be part of his story, but as he keeps going, his scandal consumes less and less space in the narrative of his life.

We are all resurrection people. We have the ability to make decisions about our present and our futures. Let’s keep going.

This is an authentic New Testament solution.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

 

Categories
21st Century Evangelicalism

21st Century Evangelicals

It’s a new day. During the 20th century Evangelicals spent more money spreading the Gospel than ever before. We printed more Bibles, built more Bible schools, seminaries, hospitals, and camps than in any other century. We now have more television stations, radio stations, missionaries, bumper stickers, t-shirts and churches than ever before. We did a great job spreading the message that the Bible is the Word of God, Jesus is the Son of God, and that all of us need to be born-again. One would think we should be headed into a positive future.

But as every political campaign and, sadly, too many sermons remind us, if we get off message, we lose. 20th Century Evangelicalism got way off message. Now our gods are attendance and money, our core aim is maintaining a good reputation, and our message is some strange amalgamation of Old Testament Law, New Testament grace, and the most recent cultural trends. As a result, we are powerless, mediocre, and many of our so-called bishops and apostles are nothing more than clouds without rain.

It’s time for a 21st Century Evangelicalism to arise. But it can’t be the message of the 20th Century made cool with graphics, videos, jeans and goatees. Simple Evangelicalism or Evangelicalism 2.0 won’t do. I believe 20th Century Evangelicalism is known as a hate group by so many because. . . we actually became a hate group to many. We don’t need a repackaging, we need to discover our New Testament center. We need to start again, and evaluate the New Testament in light of current realities and revisit our purpose in Christ. The focus of these blogs is to contemplate the central themes of Evangelicalism– theologically, socially, and structurally– and suggest some New Testament revisions.

Many of these ideas we have explored at the Roundtables on Life-Giving Leadership, which met around the country to refine the language of a Redemptive New Testament Church. Now, at the Healthy Church Intensives that I host here in Colorado for church leaders, we work to integrate authentic New Testament solutions and always produce healthy churches that grow in Christ. My intent with these blogs is a life-giving journey. My prayer is that this journey causes us to become exactly what Christ intended, an authentic body of believers, all gratefully redeemed.

If you are a church leader and are interested in you and/or your team attending a Healthy Church Intensive, contact me at tedhaggard7@aol.com.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.