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You Christians eat your own, Always have always will.

Thoughts?



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I didn't plan to care about Ted Haggard. After all, I have access to Google and a Bible. I heard about what he did and knew it was wrong. I saw the clips from the news and the HBO documentary about his life after his fall. I honestly felt bad for him but figured it was his own undoing. When the topic came up with others I know in ministry, we would feign sadness, but inside we couldn't care less. One close friend said he would understand it more if Ted had just sinned with a woman. I agreed with him at the time. It's amazing how much more mercy I give to people who struggle with sins I understand. The further their sin is from my own personal struggles, the more judgmental and callous I become. I'm not proud of that. It's just where I was at that time in my walk. But that all changed in one short afternoon.

Eating our own

A while back I was having a business lunch at a sports bar in the Denver area with a close atheist friend. He's a great guy and a very deep thinker. During lunch, he pointed at the large TV screen on the wall. It was set to a channel recapping Ted's fall. He pointed his finger at the HD and said, "That is the reason I will not become a Christian. Many of the things you say make sense, Mike, but that's what keeps me away."

It was well after the story had died down, so I had to study the screen to see what my friend was talking about. I assumed he was referring to Ted's hypocrisy. "Hey man, not all of us do things like that," I responded. He laughed and said, "Michael, you just proved my point. See, that guy said sorry a long time ago. Even his wife and kids stayed and forgave him, but all you Christians still seem to hate him. You guys can't forgive him and let him back into your good graces. Every time you talk to me about God, you explain that he will take me as I am. You say he forgives all my failures and will restore my hope, and as long as I stay outside the church, you say God wants to forgive me. But that guy failed while he was one of you, and most of you are still vicious to him." Then he uttered words that left me reeling: "You Christians eat your own. Always have. Always will."

Change of heart

He was running late for a meeting and had to take off. I, however, could barely move. I studied the TV and read the caption as a well-known religious leader kept shoveling dirt on a man who had admitted he was unclean. And at that moment, my heart started to change. I began to distance myself from my previously harsh statements and tried to understand what Ted and his family must have been through. When I brought up the topic to other men and women I love and respect, the very mention of Haggard's name made our conversations toxic. Their reactions were visceral.

Please understand, this isn't just my experience. Just Google his name and read what is said about him in Christian circles. Most Christians would say God can forgive him, but almost universally people agree that God will never use him again. When I pressed the question, "Why can't God still use Ted?" I was dismissed as foolish or silly. Most of these people got mad and demanded I drop the subject. Perhaps they saw something I was missing, but this response seemed strange. After all, I reasoned, Jesus restored Peter after he denied Christ. That's a pretty big deal. And what about the Scripture that teaches us that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable? So I felt I needed to meet Ted for myself. So I had my assistant track him down for a lunch appointment. I live outside Denver and he was living in Colorado Springs, a little over an hour away. Perfect!

We exchanged a few emails and agreed on a date and a restaurant. I took two men from my staff, and we met him for lunch. All the way there, I quietly played out in my head how he would act. Would he be reserved? Sad? Angry or distant?

Surprised by friendship

In less than five minutes of talking with Ted, I realized a horrible truth—I liked him. He was brutally honest about his failures. He was excited that the only people who would talk to him now were the truly broken and hurt. During our conversation a lady approached him. He instantly went into "pastor mode" and cared for her. Deep inside God was teaching me that true salvation is an ongoing process. We spent two hours together and decided to stay in touch. I began to call and ask him church-related questions. He possesses a wealth of wisdom. He even has a growing church in the very city that knows him for his biggest failures. I thought I had it tough as a church planter! But God is causing his church to really grow. I met his wonderful wife, Gayle. She is a terrific teacher of grace and one of my heroes. When I grow up, I want to be Gayle Haggard. And so I became close friends with Ted Haggard.

But then the funniest thing started happening to me. Some Christians I hung out with told me they would distance themselves from me if I continued reaching out to Ted. Several people in my church said they would leave. Really? Does he have leprosy? Will he infect me? We are friends. We aren't dating! But in the end, I was told that my voice as a pastor and author would be tarnished if I continued to spend time with him. I found this sickening. Not just because people can be so small, but because I have a firsthand account from Ted and Gayle of how they lost many friends they had known for years. Much of it is pretty coldblooded. Now the "Christian machine" was trying to take away their new friends.

It would do some Christians good to stay home one weekend and watch the entire DVD collection of HBO's Band of Brothers. Marinate in it. Take notes. Write down words like loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice. Understand the phrase: never leave a fallen man behind.

Where's the love?

I had a hard time understanding why we as Christians really needed Ted to crawl on the altar of church discipline and die. We needed a clean break. He needed to do the noble thing and walk away from the church. He needed to protect our image. When Ted crawled off that altar and into the arms of a forgiving God, we chose to kill him with our disdain. I wrestled with my part in this until I got an epiphany. In a quiet time of prayer, Christ revealed to me a brutal truth: it was my fault. We are called to leave the 99 to go after the one. We are supposed to be numbered with the outcasts. After all, we are the ones that believe in resurrection. In many ways I have not been aggressive enough with the application of the gospel. My concept of grace needed to mature, to grow muscles, teeth, and bad breath. It needed to carry a shield, and most of all, it needed to find its voice.

Grace must pick a side in the light of day, not just whisper its opinion in the shadows and dark places where we sign our name Anonymous. When a leader falls and then repents, grace picks a side. Grace is strong. Grace is a shield to those who cannot get off the battlefield. Grace is God's idea. Like a spiritual Switzerland, we stay in our neutral world where we can both forgive and judge but never get our hands dirty caring for the fallen. And when we don't pick a side, the wrong side gets picked for us. Crematoriums are more sanitary than hospitals. Let's change this!

Of course, I understand that if a person doesn't repent there is not a whole lot you can offer. But Ted resigned, confessed, repented, and submitted. He jumped through our many hoops. When will we be cool with him again? When will the church allow God to use him again? It's funny that we believe we get to make that decision.

The Ted Haggard issue reminds me of a scene in Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn. Huck is told that if he doesn't turn in his friend, a runaway slave named Jim, he will surely burn in hell. So one day Huck, not wanting to lose his soul to Satan, writes a letter to Jim's owner telling her of Jim's whereabouts. After folding the letter, he starts to think about what his friend has meant to him, how Jim took the night watch so he could sleep, how they laughed and survived together. Jim is his friend and that is worth reconsideration. Huck realizes that it's either Jim's friendship or hell. Then the great Mark Twain writes such wonderful words of resolve. Huck rips the paper and says, "Alright then, I guess I'll go to hell."

What a great lesson. What a great attitude. I think of John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Maybe it's not just talking about our physical life. Perhaps it's the life we know, the friends we have and lose. Maybe I show love when I lay down the life we have together to confront you on a wrong attitude or action. Maybe we show no greater love than when we are counted with people who others consider tainted. Becoming friends with Ted was a defining moment in my life, ministry, and career. Sure, I lost a few relationships, but I doubt they would have cared for me in my failures. So really, I lost nothing. If being Ted's friend causes some to hate and reject me—alright then, I guess I'll go to hell.

Michael Cheshire is pastor of The Journey Church in Conifer, Colorado and author of How to Knock Over a 7-11 and Other Ministry Training (2012) and Why We Eat Our Own (2013)

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Replies (111-120):
SilverSterling
by MrsSilverusSnape on Jan. 24, 2013 at 8:14 AM
1 mom liked this

I was speaking mostly in general and not specifically at you so please forgive me if I came across as I was singling you out. I realize you do see them as a Human who are fallible and I also agree they shouldn't be in leadership

Quoting survivorinohio:

I know they are human, I do tend to feel if they are struggling like that they should not be in leadership.

I heard that the woman that seduced our pastor could  make clocks run backwards.  Demonize much?  I mean really demonizing her.  I did feel as if our congregation blamed her much much more than him.

I think we all are accountable whether we be super church leaders or even if we just watch them.

Quoting SilverSterling:

I don't know if this is off topic or not and if it is please forgive me but More and more preachers, Pastors and Ministers are "falling" from grace. Many times it seems like its a daily occurrence. While I agree that in many cases Christians eat their own and as a Christian I have seen this far to often to be comfortable with it. I feel that often time the cop out lame excuse is blame.. Blame the woman for "seducing" the man of god because the bible teaches that woman are the source of all that is evil. Blame porn, blame drugs, blame whatever instead of just standing up and saying know what I screwed up, I am to blame, I DID this and its NO ones fault but my own. 

On the Rare occasions that it happens the old biddies still blame everyone or anything other then the person who fell from grace anyways.. People treat Ministers, Pastors, Preachers , Clergy in general as if they themselves are God instead of Messengers of God and aren't entitled to be human and make Human mistakes. 

Now SOME men/woman of the Cloth's fall from Grace are Note worthy (Tammy Fay and her Ex Husband come to my mind) There are a Few in Mega Churches who have fallen or will fall from grace that I think need to be eaten but until we truly see that Christianity is big Business that cares more about money and less about God then it will continue to happen.. Now my Coffee Fueled Soap Box Message is over I will bow out gracefully.



survivorinohio
by René on Jan. 24, 2013 at 8:23 AM

No I didnt feel like you were singling me out.  As I read your reply I started thinking about all the stories that were told about "the woman".  All the whispers. 

I was just conversing :)

Quoting SilverSterling:

I was speaking mostly in general and not specifically at you so please forgive me if I came across as I was singling you out. I realize you do see them as a Human who are fallible and I also agree they shouldn't be in leadership

Quoting survivorinohio:

I know they are human, I do tend to feel if they are struggling like that they should not be in leadership.

I heard that the woman that seduced our pastor could  make clocks run backwards.  Demonize much?  I mean really demonizing her.  I did feel as if our congregation blamed her much much more than him.

I think we all are accountable whether we be super church leaders or even if we just watch them.

Quoting SilverSterling:

I don't know if this is off topic or not and if it is please forgive me but More and more preachers, Pastors and Ministers are "falling" from grace. Many times it seems like its a daily occurrence. While I agree that in many cases Christians eat their own and as a Christian I have seen this far to often to be comfortable with it. I feel that often time the cop out lame excuse is blame.. Blame the woman for "seducing" the man of god because the bible teaches that woman are the source of all that is evil. Blame porn, blame drugs, blame whatever instead of just standing up and saying know what I screwed up, I am to blame, I DID this and its NO ones fault but my own. 

On the Rare occasions that it happens the old biddies still blame everyone or anything other then the person who fell from grace anyways.. People treat Ministers, Pastors, Preachers , Clergy in general as if they themselves are God instead of Messengers of God and aren't entitled to be human and make Human mistakes. 

Now SOME men/woman of the Cloth's fall from Grace are Note worthy (Tammy Fay and her Ex Husband come to my mind) There are a Few in Mega Churches who have fallen or will fall from grace that I think need to be eaten but until we truly see that Christianity is big Business that cares more about money and less about God then it will continue to happen.. Now my Coffee Fueled Soap Box Message is over I will bow out gracefully.




How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


SilverSterling
by MrsSilverusSnape on Jan. 24, 2013 at 8:28 AM
1 mom liked this

*blushes* Sorry.. Sometimes its hard to tell..

Quoting survivorinohio:

No I didnt feel like you were singling me out.  As I read your reply I started thinking about all the stories that were told about "the woman".  All the whispers. 

I was just conversing :)

IhaveHisjoy
by Silver Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:07 AM
1 mom liked this

 YES! I think when ppl..be it pastors or any believer falls, it's not for lack of belief, but lack of spending time with and keeping the focus on Christ. We (general term) can get so caught up in the day to day things..that time with God..time spend in prayer, worship, etc.. gets put aside. That's when satan gets an opening..hence the fall. Yet still knowing Christ is Lord and Saviour.

Quoting survivorinohio:

I disagree.  I think that they are allowing an evil nature to affect their behavior, I do not think that means they do not believe. Christianity is about your belief system and while there will be evidence of that belief in our changing behaviors and as we grow in Christ .  Sin does not mean we are not Christian.

Quoting LADYxGHOST:

 FTR the people the article is referring to are NOT Christians, they are posers.  I can say I am anything I want to be, but I can only be me and if that isn't in line with Christ, then I am not a Christian. I can say I am President of the USA or a Rocket Scientist, or that I am really you logged in as another user, it doesn't make it true. does it?

 

Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Meadowchik:

 "You Christians" ??

 

Its a quote from the piece.

FTR I am a Christian.

 

 


 

"Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone- except God"...Billy Graham
GrannyM.
by Bronze Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Live and let live...judge not lest you be judged...each to his own...all good advice. Yes I'm a Christian but I'm not in the business of judging others. Kindness, love and a heart that wants to help others is the most important qualities to have. Ones spiritual beliefs are personal and should not be judged as long as they are hurting no one. :)

GrannyM.
by Bronze Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:16 AM
3 moms liked this

One more thought to think about...there are hundreds of thousands of pastors, preachers and etc. who never commit evil acts...we only hear about the small number who fall from grace. Just keep that in mind...:)....

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:50 AM


Quoting candlegal:

I guess I have a hard time understanding this.  I went to a Church for years where the people were unkind.When   I finally walked away I found another Catholic Church.  There are so many of them out there that are doing what they are supposed to do.

Quoting FromAtoZ:

This brings up a good point.  Of course, many will fail to see it, read it, hear it or feel it.

The point of this article is one of the reasons I walked away from the Catholic church. I have never walked away from God,  He is not nearly as judgemental as some of His more conservative followers.


This was many years ago.  I attended the same Catholic Church for years, grew up there.  I had my first daughter out of wedlock and her father was divorced.  Huge shame.  You deny my child, you deny me.  

For years, while attending Church, I always had the questions no one wanted to answer or even address. Even way back in the 2nd grade.  How dare I question the Church and what I was being taught.  There was one Father whom I adored.  He would sit and talk with me, not to me.  I will always remember him and take his words to heart.  Then he passed away from an accident.  It was quite sad.

I had been wrestling with myself and the Catholic faith.  I did not dare tell my mother, I would have embarrassed her.  So instead, when I was 26, with a child, with a man who was divorced and the Church made it clear I was no longer welcome, she was indeed embarrassed and acted much like the Church did.  That was her cross to bear.  Not mine.

That was when I knew I had to leave.  When you are told to leave, told your child is unworthy.........and had  your own doubts about certain aspects of the particular faith, for years...........there was no doubt that the Catholic Church and I were not on the same page.  

There probably are other Catholic Churches that would have welcomed my child, and myself, but the bottom line was that I did not believe all of what they were telling me.  I was raised with it, with the Church.  I had had enough.  I simply do not believe in most of what they sell.  That simple.  Nor can I, in good conscience, follow much of what they preach.  

My relationship with God became even more clear, more beautiful and my walk, my journey, more fulfilled once I was following my own heart and mind and not the heart and mind of the Church.

Many people leave, whether it be the Catholic Church, or another, and continue on their journey.  It has worked out to be one of the best decisions I have made.  For me. 

No one else has to understand.  *shrug*  

candlegal
by Judy on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:56 AM
1 mom liked this

I am sorry to hear all that but I know it happens.   I had a Priest tell me I couldn't receive communion for certain reasons so I stayed away from the church for many years.  I was much younger.   

When things started to get to me, I started back to Church realized what I had missed by being away.   When I came back to the Church I talked about earlier, I was mature enough to know all Catholic Churches wern't like that and found another Church.    I am not saying that in a negative way towards you, just telling what happened to me.

Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting candlegal:

I guess I have a hard time understanding this.  I went to a Church for years where the people were unkind.When   I finally walked away I found another Catholic Church.  There are so many of them out there that are doing what they are supposed to do.

Quoting FromAtoZ:

This brings up a good point.  Of course, many will fail to see it, read it, hear it or feel it.

The point of this article is one of the reasons I walked away from the Catholic church. I have never walked away from God,  He is not nearly as judgemental as some of His more conservative followers.


This was many years ago.  I attended the same Catholic Church for years, grew up there.  I had my first daughter out of wedlock and her father was divorced.  Huge shame.  You deny my child, you deny me.  

For years, while attending Church, I always had the questions no one wanted to answer or even address. Even way back in the 2nd grade.  How dare I question the Church and what I was being taught.  There was one Father whom I adored.  He would sit and talk with me, not to me.  I will always remember him and take his words to heart.  Then he passed away from an accident.  It was quite sad.

I had been wrestling with myself and the Catholic faith.  I did not dare tell my mother, I would have embarrassed her.  So instead, when I was 26, with a child, with a man who was divorced and the Church made it clear I was no longer welcome, she was indeed embarrassed and acted much like the Church did.  That was her cross to bear.  Not mine.

That was when I knew I had to leave.  When you are told to leave, told your child is unworthy.........and had  your own doubts about certain aspects of the particular faith, for years...........there was no doubt that the Catholic Church and I were not on the same page.  

There probably are other Catholic Churches that would have welcomed my child, and myself, but the bottom line was that I did not believe all of what they were telling me.  I was raised with it, with the Church.  I had had enough.  I simply do not believe in most of what they sell.  That simple.  Nor can I, in good conscience, follow much of what they preach.  

My relationship with God became even more clear, more beautiful and my walk, my journey, more fulfilled once I was following my own heart and mind and not the heart and mind of the Church.

Many people leave, whether it be the Catholic Church, or another, and continue on their journey.  It has worked out to be one of the best decisions I have made.  For me. 

No one else has to understand.  *shrug*  


survivorinohio
by René on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:30 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting candlegal:

I guess I have a hard time understanding this.  I went to a Church for years where the people were unkind.When   I finally walked away I found another Catholic Church.  There are so many of them out there that are doing what they are supposed to do.

Quoting FromAtoZ:

This brings up a good point.  Of course, many will fail to see it, read it, hear it or feel it.

The point of this article is one of the reasons I walked away from the Catholic church. I have never walked away from God,  He is not nearly as judgemental as some of His more conservative followers.


This was many years ago.  I attended the same Catholic Church for years, grew up there.  I had my first daughter out of wedlock and her father was divorced.  Huge shame.  You deny my child, you deny me.  

For years, while attending Church, I always had the questions no one wanted to answer or even address. Even way back in the 2nd grade.  How dare I question the Church and what I was being taught.  There was one Father whom I adored.  He would sit and talk with me, not to me.  I will always remember him and take his words to heart.  Then he passed away from an accident.  It was quite sad.

I had been wrestling with myself and the Catholic faith.  I did not dare tell my mother, I would have embarrassed her.  So instead, when I was 26, with a child, with a man who was divorced and the Church made it clear I was no longer welcome, she was indeed embarrassed and acted much like the Church did.  That was her cross to bear.  Not mine.

That was when I knew I had to leave.  When you are told to leave, told your child is unworthy.........and had  your own doubts about certain aspects of the particular faith, for years...........there was no doubt that the Catholic Church and I were not on the same page.  

There probably are other Catholic Churches that would have welcomed my child, and myself, but the bottom line was that I did not believe all of what they were telling me.  I was raised with it, with the Church.  I had had enough.  I simply do not believe in most of what they sell.  That simple.  Nor can I, in good conscience, follow much of what they preach.  

My relationship with God became even more clear, more beautiful and my walk, my journey, more fulfilled once I was following my own heart and mind and not the heart and mind of the Church.

Many people leave, whether it be the Catholic Church, or another, and continue on their journey.  It has worked out to be one of the best decisions I have made.  For me. 

No one else has to understand.  *shrug*  

I agree no on else has to understand.  (((HUGS)))

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


tambrathegreat
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 12:46 PM

I don't think you read the piece all the way through.  It had some valuable insights into human behavior and forgiveness, not just for Christians, but for us all.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

I don't even know who this man is.  Why do people pay attention to people they dislike and the stupid things they say on the regular basis?  Does it fuel and further the liberal or atheist  agenda? 



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