Let me say on the onset of this blog entry that I’m not writing as a “arrived” guru with an opinion.Â It’s so easy for those of us outside of the scandal to get on our soapbox with disconnected insight as to how or why this happened…Â I’m writing this out of a heart that bleeds.Â
Upon finding out about thisÂ on CNN, I was disgusted, heartbroken, angry, embarassed, sad but yet awakened.Â As a young, growing pastor it is a smack to my face that reminds me so distastefully of the devastation of sin.Â Satan is a “man-killer” as John 8:44 proclaims.Â This culture is full of satan’s sexual “carrots” that seek to decieve and lure us when we aren’t vigilant and on alert…1 Peter 5:8.Â Whether it’s a sensual woman wearing a bra and panties looking like she’s about a size 1Â staring at you as you buy a bag of grapes in the checkout line.Â Or a woman who tries to get your attention after you share an innocent “hello.”Â Or 34 out 40 commercials with sexual overtones shouting off the tv as you watch a testosterone-filled football game.Â It’s bigger than “Every Man’s Battle”, it’s a flat out war – a host of demonic angels and a ring leader satan organizing our destruction in a world that we can’t necessarily see.
I don’t know haggard but i’ve only seen him on tv as I was flicking through the channels.Â He was on either Dateline or 20/20 sometime in the past.Â This manÂ seemed to beÂ experiencing more than the normal, everyday battle for men.Â I’m not sure of the extent of his sexual problem but it seems thatÂ this has been a “secret” sin that him and GodÂ have knownÂ about.Â
I’m have been learning so much about secrets lately… Just the other day I was burdened about secrets and wrote a blog entryÂ and now I’m back to addressing them.Â Secrets, especially secret sins are destroying believers… I’m so reminded that there is no room for “secret sins” as a believer.Â How can we have secrets anyway when God knows all about us?Â I’ll tell you how… It’s called satan’s deception.Â Satan deceives us intoÂ convincing us thatÂ right is wrong and wrong is right.Â We all are susceptible to being deceived.Â However, having people in our lives that can hold us accountable and discern the junk in our lives is so critical.Â As a pastor I couldn’t do this without people in my life that loved me enough to possibly see what I couldn’t see.Â Even before the men around me, I can’t imagine my wife allowing me to get away with anything that was tricky.Â
Let me share what I’ve grown to do in my life so that maybe I can help some of the men who may be reading this blog.Â This is not a full-proof “magic formula” for staying away from sexual scandals butÂ is what I’m doing in the natural while relying on the GRACE of God.
- admitting my dependency and demonstrating my needinessÂ of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection by having a regular time with God that includes praying through a prayer journal, reading the Scriptures and waiting quietly in his presence.
- having men in my life who aren’t so impressed with me that I can’t be real with them.Â I can tell them anything without them raising an eyebrow.
- choosing not to “play” or flirt with sin or other women.
- talking candidly and openly with my wife about my sexuality and our sexuality as a couple.Â
- expressing my raw sexuality with my wife avoiding any gratification to come from anyone else but her.
- avoiding emotional communication via email with women.
- maintaining privacy with my cell phone by not giving women open access to me.
- not going to lunch with another woman.
- always openly sharing with my wife any visual, emotional or physical temptation that I’m experiencing… (this has evolved over 17 years of marriage).
- limiting my tv viewing to sports while on business travel.
- using porn blockers, spam blockers and “lust-blockers” on my computer.
- playing out satan’s “proposed” fantasies all the way to my potential shame, destruction of my marriage and family and embarrassment to the name of Christ.
- limiting tv viewing but also not having “brain-dead” time watching late night tv.
- never visiting a woman at home without a man being present.
- not being ashamed to confess, repent and ask for forgiveness of sin.
- not thinking more highly of myself than I ought and respecting God’s grace in my life.
Let’s be prayerful for him and his family.Â As well, let’s earnestly pray God’s healing for the congregation of 14,000.Â That’s 14,000+ souls devastated… Their shepherd has been removed and they are left brokenhearted and crushed.
I commend the leadership at New Life in their swift termination of Haggard.Â Let’s pray that they will lovingly assist him in getting the therapy that he needs in order to be restored back to fellowship with the Lord.
Please continue to keep me and other pastors around the world in prayer as we seek toÂ obey the Lord and shepherd our wives, families and churches.
Lately, I have been awe-struck by God’s Word.Â It is full of truth nuggets that have been devotionally ushering me closer and closer to Jesus.Â In Ps.119:18, the psalmist asks that the Lord “open up his eyes so that he can gaze at the marvelous things out of your law.”Â What a humbling proclaimation.Â As much as we may think that we have a “special” upper-room connection with the Holy Spirit, it is the Lord that gives us insights into His truth, not us.Â The more nuggets of treasure I find the more humbled I am that it had nothing to do with my hermeneutical discoveries but everything to do with God’s gracious revelation.Â You and I are desperate!Â We are desperately dependent on the perogative of God to give us insight into His Word…Â As I’m preparing messages, over and over I’m asking the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to the original intent of the author; the redemptive purposes in the text and how this text can take us closer to Jesus.Â May we all seek to beg the Father for new lenses that don’t have deep scratches, faded tint and an out-of-date prescriptions.Â The Holy Spirit graciously desires to give us new lenses if we would only keep our appointment with Him.Â
as we are journeying through acts 17, I have been really convicted and burdened as I evaluate what I read and study compared to what I see and hear around me.Â idolatry exists in america but I haven’t been characterized by being bothered by it.Â as I read about paul’s response to the idols in athens (acts 17:16), I am convicted.Â am I disgusted and infuriated that cities across america are full of idols?Â have we put idolatry in a box that we can keep at bay in order to feel confident about our worship of God?Â do we think idolatry is merelyÂ carved images and statues?Â Â
Â are we seeing what God sees?Â idols are not too far from what we ascribe worth to outside of God.Â partner with me as I commit myself to observing what’s around me as God would see it and becoming burdened by it.Â let’s ask God to help us see what he sees and feel what he feels.
did you know when we sin we interrupt God’s will from being manifested in our lives?Â did you also know that when we sin we rebel against God and His will for us?Â john calls sin lawlessness.Â when we sin we break the law of God which is His will… God sees sin as an uncivilized, rebellious, self-centered action against him.Â it resembles a person who knows the laws of a state but yet rebellously chooses to do what he or she desires regardless of what the law states.Â did you also knowÂ that it only takes one rebellious andÂ defiant act to lead to a lifestyle of rebellion against God.Â what one thing is God asking you to do that you don’t want to do?
how can we prevent recklessly rebelling against God?Â john says, that if we abide in him we can prevent developing aÂ lifestyle of sin… i like the image of cuddling up in the lap of Jesus seeking holistic nourishment and power from Him and Him alone.Â let’s surrender our lives to him.Â he’s safe, trustworthy, capable, reliable and committed to our good and His glory.Â let’s not rebel against God’s will.Â let’sÂ surrender our will to Him…
shout or shame
lately I’ve been struck with the thought of Christ’s return.Â will I and other Christians be thrilled about his coming or will we be embarassed based upon where we are spiritually.Â in our Bible study I ran upon a passage that made me ponder my own response.Â john says, “And now, little children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame when he comes back” (1john 2:28).Â in this passage johnÂ teaches us thatÂ our confidenceÂ or lack thereofÂ andÂ response will be based upon whether we have been “abiding” inÂ Jesus Christ.Â at the coffeehouse the other night we discussed this idea of abiding… john says abiding is being in secure, restful fellowship with Jesus Christ.Â he drills down more by helping us understand that restful fellowship requires that we study and believe the truth, obey His word and love our brothers.Â we are in fellowship or out of fellowship based upon our responses to these three.Â
so, we can have confidence and an excitement at Jesus’ return.Â But if we embrace lies, disobey the word and mistreat or hate our brothers then we probably will be embarassed or shame-filled at his return.Â let’s live life abiding in fellowship with Jesus Christ and look forward to his return.Â come quickly Lord Jesus!
greater goals than $
it’s amazing how often the saavy and informed make decisive decisions about their goals for their money… when we get the itch concerning financial stewardship we catch a vision of where we would like to be financially thus exerting all types of energy to be able to achieve what we desire.Â good things such as getting out of debt, paying off student loans, paying off credit cards, saving up for a new car or paying someone back often are motivators that lead us to reluctantly make major sacrifices to make it happen.
i propose to you that they are far more superb goals that we can strive for.Â case n point, our spiritual growth goals…Â i know we live in the real world with real deadlines, threats, pressure and desired freedom… trust me, i want to be a great steward experiencing the freedom of no debt as well but what about becoming more like jesus?Â have we lost a vision for whatÂ our purpose is?Â i’m challenged right now to stop typing and make a list, setting sub-goals and timelines – for real.Â i have been praying over what i’d like to see over the next 5 yrs. in my life spiritually.Â i’ll peel back the covers of my life for you.Â i’d like to raise up over 200 surrendered leaders at wellspring within the next 5 years.Â you say, “that has nothing to do with you?”Â that has everything to do with my spiritual life.Â 1 john 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as jesus did.”Â i will not be able to influence or “raise up” 200 leaders if i’m not striving to live like jesus did.
therefore, after you read this, take a moment and start mapping out your spiritual growth goals.Â where will you be spiritually in the next 5 yrs?Â as paul would say, “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”Â prepare for your spiritual future by setting a target – jesus christ and a few sub-targets to get you closer to him.Â plan today to be one step closer to him tomorrow.
s t r e t c h yourself
God is always challenging me to be stretched… and i want to challenge you.Â he wants my cooperation and your cooperation.Â make a list of ways that you think God wants to stretch you.Â each day cooperate with God to see one thing come alive in you.
deep down inside this is a l i t t l e frightening.Â why?Â i think that inside of us is aÂ FEAR that we may pop.Â ask God to give you grace to step out of what is comfortable for you and takeÂ a chance with his grace having your back.Â a new u is just around the corner.
comfort for eternity
seasons come and seasons go… however, some seasons seem like they last for a lifetime.Â i’ve been there, experienced that.Â sometimes our hearts get troubled, agitated, disturbed, bothered or even discouraged.Â i’ve been there, experienced that.Â this morning God dropped a healing balm on me which I want to share with you from john 14.Â
shortly after judas, one ofÂ jesus’ disciples wasÂ entered by satanÂ jesus was able to encourage his disciples as his departure became immenent.Â from the text it appears that the disciples were experiencing angst because of uncertainties which were undefined in the midst of jesus speaking about hisÂ departure.Â could they have been experiencing anticipated fears of loneliness and instability?Â in the heart of their experiences jesus spoke to their angst.Â verse 1 seems to be such a timely statement, “don’t let your hearts be troubled.”Â are we able to control our hearts from being troubled?Â it’s huge to see how the next statement which is a spiritualÂ pursuit is clearly linked to our emotionality even when troubled.Â “trust also in me.”Â here the text admonishes us to not allow our hearts to be troubled but trust in jesus.Â sounds too simple – maybe likeÂ one of job’s non-counseling friends? it’s not a trite statement but one drippin’ withÂ a deliberate shift in perspective. Â any angstÂ we feel or loneliness, concern or agitation from time to time, should cause us toÂ deliberately turn our hearts toward christ,Â toÂ trust him.Â why can we do this?Â we can trust him because he is “preparing us for eternity.”Â whatever we are experiencing is happening in order for us to trust him as he prepares us for eternity.Â he told his disciples to not be troubled becauseÂ they belonged to himÂ andÂ thus he wasÂ preparing a home forÂ them in eternity…”Â in other words, i’m working on your behalf… i do have your back, you are not alone.Â don’t be discouraged, trust me.Â
further in the text john goes on to record that the real reason that our hearts get troubled. we tend to doubt GodÂ when we don’t know all the details regarding what helps us feel secure(v5)Â and thus we intentionally or unintentionally “ignore” Christ (v9)Â missing the opportunity to draw close to Him in intimacy.Â a troubled heart goneÂ un-checked leads us to get stuck in the quick sand of doubt and miss crucial opportunities to grow.Â
the lesson is concluded with an admonishment to have “faith.”Â when we have faith then the holy spirit gives us power and perspectiveÂ to seek jesus asking him to move on behalf of what really troubles our hearts.Â so the next time something troubles you, discourages you, frustrates you, causes you to be impatient, or lonely, don’t allow your heart to be troubled.Â remember he’s preparing you for eternity.Â remember to trustÂ him as he works on your behalf.Â remember to have faith in christ alone taking everything that troubles you to him.Â allow him to move your troubled heart to a trusting heart.Â
remember that Jesus can give life to whatever appears deadÂ (permanently lifelessÂ without hope)Â even if our human rational convinces us that it’s over.Â think about friendships, relationships, unmet expectations, health, job search, finances, career direction, marriages and dreams.Â whatever he decides to do, know that “the end” will be his glory.Â
also don’t limit his resurrection power to the tangible world.Â jesus can even raise from the dead our perspectives that oftentimes keep us from experiencing life.Â sometimes there needs to be a removal of grave clothes around our minds.Â don’t underestimate the people God has put around you to help.Â remember, everything is for his glory, even the process of replacing the wardrobe.
nothing to say
after watching mel gibson’s “passion of the Christ” again my mouth hung wide open, my body paralyzed and my pride crushed.Â Â seeingÂ most ofÂ the text come to life put being a follower of jesus in a whole new light during this holiday season.Â Â i was amazed to witness how our saviorÂ was tortured relentlessly to put it mildlyÂ but never said a word in defense of himself.Â he humbly knew who he was and who his father was.Â it is convicting to think of how many times you and i run off at the mouth defending ourselves and our reputation?Â we have even become sophisticated in being able to cut people deeply without appearingÂ belligerent.Â may our mouths continue to hang open as we marvel in awe of a worthy king who suffered as a lamb but yet rose as he said he would.Â may his resurrection demonstrate to us the power of the final word as we live on his behalf.Â shhh, your father is in control.