Donny's Ramblings

Conversations with Ted Haggard – A Prelude

22 Comments

Last week I had the privilege to sit down with Ted Haggard, who was in town to attend a Pastor’s conference at a local church. In the coming days I’d like to share with you several things I discussed with him.

Ted Haggard Tweet Last Wednesday

One of Ted Haggard's "Tweets" from Last Wednesday (screencap from my iPhone's 'Tweetie' app)

Going into our conversations, I had my B.S. detector turned way up. If Ted tried to sugarcoat any of his actions, if he tried to downplay anything, if he was disingenuous at all, I’d be the first to scream it from the rooftops. But I can tell you this, dear Constant Reader, the Ted Haggard I met with was a very warm man, humbled by his own sin nature and holding nothing back. I saw a man who loves Jesus, a man who was at times sad, at other times upset, and above all, didn’t make excuses for his actions. To be honest, I saw a man who I identify with.

So often we put religious leaders on a pedestal, and if they fall we are hurt on a deeper level than we’d be if most others in our lives were to fall. Some of us are angry and resist extending forgiveness. Some of us scream of hypocrisy. Still others celebrate the comeback of fallen leaders like we would that of our favorite NFL team, down in the 4th quarter, but who miraculously pulls off a last second victory to win a conference championship for a place in the Superbowl.

And why is it that the comeback of a religious leader is so celebrated by some, you might ask? Perhaps it’s because we see someone who isn’t the closest thing to God in the flesh, as we’d formerly esteemed him or her, and who is, after all, one of us. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. Whatever it is, I’ll admit that I am one of those who has been heartened by watching Ted Haggard’s recovery with the support of his amazing wife and biological family, especially so after speaking with him in person, asking some tough questions and receiving real, honest answers.

Our first meeting took place last Monday morning.  I turned on my Sony digital audio recorder and we spoke for nearly three hours. Early Tuesday I received a Facebook message from Ted asking if I would call him on his cell and discuss meeting yet again for a follow up interview, as there were some things on his heart that he really wanted to make sure I shared with those who read the article I write about him. This second meeting lasted nearly two hours, and like the first, I took my pastor along to contribute to the conversation. In fact, I’m sure you’ll be able to read some of Dr. G’s thoughts on his blog at some point.

I’m requesting that you come back and read about these conversations, and invite a friend to do the same. Invite your entire email address book, all of your twitter followers, your Facebook friends, every person still on your MySpace friends list, and your entire church congregation.  I’ll have the first article up no later than this coming Monday afternoon – hopefully sooner – and intend to follow it with others. Regardless of your thoughts on Ted Haggard’s crisis, I know you’ll find something of interest.  I look forward to sharing this experience with you.

See you then!

22 thoughts on “Conversations with Ted Haggard – A Prelude

  1. As a citizen of Colorado Springs, I have to tell you, I would trust the guy as far as I would throw him. Regardless of any progress he has made. At face value, it seems like the same old actor that was playing church for so long is still refining his method acting.

    I am no one to judge, but believe me, time will tell. And typically, you can judge a tree by its fruit.

  2. As a citizen of Colorado Springs, I have to tell you, I would trust the guy as far as I would throw him. Regardless of any progress he has made. At face value, it seems like the same old actor that was playing church for so long is still refining his method acting.

    I am no one to judge, but believe me, time will tell. And typically, you can judge a tree by its fruit.

  3. I’m looking forward to this. I hope you really did ask him tough questions because I was very disappointed when I found out he did what he did.

  4. I’m looking forward to this. I hope you really did ask him tough questions because I was very disappointed when I found out he did what he did.

  5. Donny, Thank you for taking the time to interview Ted, and for your honest impressions. I look forward to reading what you write about it.

    I don’t think it’s hard for anyone to relate to what Ron has said here, and in a sense he is right in regards to Ted’s actions lining up with his words, “time will tell”. But at this point all I’ve heard from Ted in interviews is a broken, repentant man not someone claiming to be perfect and have it all together. From what I’ve gathered he is taking a posture that I think addresses the trust he violated and isn’t trying to regain credibility instantly, but recognizes that he has violated the trust of many, including those closest to him.

    I’m often skeptical of people who mess up like this, in such a blatantly hypocritical way, making their way back into ministry, but what I’ve heard from Ted isn’t, “I wasn’t really THAT wrong”, and minimizing his actions, but rather a full acceptance and recognition that he’s a broken man in need of a gracious Savior, and forgiveness.

    I heard an equation several years ago that stuck with me: time + consistency = trust. I think Ted will regain trust as he continues to honestly talk about what he’s learned and how God is continuing to work in and through him.

    Donny, my prayers are with you and Ted. God can do amazing things in this process of redemption, which I’m personally very thankful for. Thanks again for coming to our church a few weeks ago. Your story was humbling, encouraging, and uplifting to all the guys who were there. Keep up the great work man!

  6. Donny, Thank you for taking the time to interview Ted, and for your honest impressions. I look forward to reading what you write about it.

    I don’t think it’s hard for anyone to relate to what Ron has said here, and in a sense he is right in regards to Ted’s actions lining up with his words, “time will tell”. But at this point all I’ve heard from Ted in interviews is a broken, repentant man not someone claiming to be perfect and have it all together. From what I’ve gathered he is taking a posture that I think addresses the trust he violated and isn’t trying to regain credibility instantly, but recognizes that he has violated the trust of many, including those closest to him.

    I’m often skeptical of people who mess up like this, in such a blatantly hypocritical way, making their way back into ministry, but what I’ve heard from Ted isn’t, “I wasn’t really THAT wrong”, and minimizing his actions, but rather a full acceptance and recognition that he’s a broken man in need of a gracious Savior, and forgiveness.

    I heard an equation several years ago that stuck with me: time + consistency = trust. I think Ted will regain trust as he continues to honestly talk about what he’s learned and how God is continuing to work in and through him.

    Donny, my prayers are with you and Ted. God can do amazing things in this process of redemption, which I’m personally very thankful for. Thanks again for coming to our church a few weeks ago. Your story was humbling, encouraging, and uplifting to all the guys who were there. Keep up the great work man!

  7. Donny,
    I was very excited for you to meet a man going through the rebuilding phase of his life. I think it is amazing how we can, through comments, and cast judgments at fellow humans and yet hide our own sins with justifications. I pray that Ted is coming closer to the Lord through this and that his relationship is being restored. I find it interesting, no make that annoying to be honest, when people are full of anger at someone who the Lord is dealing with. David killed and committed adultery, Peter denied the Lord who he knew like a brother, and Moses defied God’s command. All leaders and men of God and yet I do believe God forgave them and loves them still. It is our job to love our neighbors as ourselves and to forgive the repentent. I do not need to know his exact conversations with God to know God is in control of his and every life. Sorry for my long-winded rant. Love ya

  8. Donny,
    I was very excited for you to meet a man going through the rebuilding phase of his life. I think it is amazing how we can, through comments, and cast judgments at fellow humans and yet hide our own sins with justifications. I pray that Ted is coming closer to the Lord through this and that his relationship is being restored. I find it interesting, no make that annoying to be honest, when people are full of anger at someone who the Lord is dealing with. David killed and committed adultery, Peter denied the Lord who he knew like a brother, and Moses defied God’s command. All leaders and men of God and yet I do believe God forgave them and loves them still. It is our job to love our neighbors as ourselves and to forgive the repentent. I do not need to know his exact conversations with God to know God is in control of his and every life. Sorry for my long-winded rant. Love ya

  9. Thanks Donny,

    Looking forward to keeping up with this. This is going to be a story with legs. We will be hearing about it for years to come. It is also going to be a story of enormous importance. Because of all the issues that will rise…

    1. Does restoration to God equal restoration to ministry?
    2. Is punishment consistent with restoration?
    3. What is just and what is abusive?
    4. What are we learning about sexual behavior from all of this?
    5. What is the genesis of same-sex attraction?
    6. How could one with so much to lose be so weak against compulsions?
    7. How should we treat the families of fallen ministers?

    That is just a sampling… how will the public feel when an offender’s story is told? Is an offender going to be given a full hearing? Can you be both innocent and guilty? You see it will never end.

    Keep writing Donny

  10. Thanks Donny,

    Looking forward to keeping up with this. This is going to be a story with legs. We will be hearing about it for years to come. It is also going to be a story of enormous importance. Because of all the issues that will rise…

    1. Does restoration to God equal restoration to ministry?
    2. Is punishment consistent with restoration?
    3. What is just and what is abusive?
    4. What are we learning about sexual behavior from all of this?
    5. What is the genesis of same-sex attraction?
    6. How could one with so much to lose be so weak against compulsions?
    7. How should we treat the families of fallen ministers?

    That is just a sampling… how will the public feel when an offender’s story is told? Is an offender going to be given a full hearing? Can you be both innocent and guilty? You see it will never end.

    Keep writing Donny

  11. I look forward to your future posts regarding your conversations.

  12. I look forward to your future posts regarding your conversations.

  13. I am really looking forward to reading more about your conversations with Ted. I hope everyone can find the grace for him that he deserves. God’s grace is never ending…no matter how much we screw up. Regardless of the mistakes Ted Haggard has made, he still deserves our grace!

  14. I am really looking forward to reading more about your conversations with Ted. I hope everyone can find the grace for him that he deserves. God’s grace is never ending…no matter how much we screw up. Regardless of the mistakes Ted Haggard has made, he still deserves our grace!

  15. Getting this up is taking longer than I thought it would.

  16. Getting this up is taking longer than I thought it would.

  17. As someone who struggled with many of the same things Ted went through

    As someone who was involved with a large church and the shame of being exposed and thrown out

    As someone who attended New Life Church during all of this

    As someone who took the time to reach out to Ted, someone who spent the time to watch the HBO special, someone who has spent many hours with Ted and his family…

    I am glad I am forgiven, I am glad I do not answer to man for my sins and I am glad that there is not a TV camera wired to my heart and broadcasting to the world the sinful thoughts I had just today…I am a sinner.

    I am not perfect, I am forgiven.

    Ted is not perfect, he is forgiven.

    I have been judged by people, I have drug my family through hell and through the incredible grace of God, my family was brought back from the edge of disaster. Today I use that darkness of my past to help shine the light of Jesus Christ in to the places few want to venture.

    There is a war raging on our families, raging on our children, it is called Porn or Sexual Addiction or Homosexuality or what ever lable you want to give it…it is ugly. We are losing that war and satan is winning!

    Who is equiped to lead us out of this? How is the church doing handling this stuff? We are so ashamed of this even most our pastors are afraid to talk about it.

    Who should fight this war? Who do we put in charge of a war? People who know the enemy, people who know how the enemy operates, people who have seen the darkness…they are the only ones who know how to beat this.

    Who did God choose to lead his people to the promised land? A perfect person or a person with a passion? He called on Moses, God chose a murderer! Was that poor judgement or did God know the heart of Moses…I know that answer.

    So who can judge the heart of Ted Haggard? Not me and not you. Ted and Gayle are the real deal. As a couple they have done what few can; in a world which tosses aside marriages like disposable diapers…they stayed the course, they used the Bible. Gayle honored her marriage, honored her vows, honored her husband, honored her family and I can tell you she honored her God.

    I have sat with Gayle and watched her believe in her husband. I have seen their family interact in person…they forgive him and they believe in him. If his family believes in him, if they believe he is who he says he is, then who am I to judge?

    Pastor Ted, I believe in you…welcome to the war, it is awesome to see what God is doing through you once again. Shine the light into the darkness.

    I will not judge, I will leave that to God.

    Thanks for doing this Donny, God bless you brother.

    Steve G

    “Some want to live within the sound of the church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” CT Studd

  18. As someone who struggled with many of the same things Ted went through

    As someone who was involved with a large church and the shame of being exposed and thrown out

    As someone who attended New Life Church during all of this

    As someone who took the time to reach out to Ted, someone who spent the time to watch the HBO special, someone who has spent many hours with Ted and his family…

    I am glad I am forgiven, I am glad I do not answer to man for my sins and I am glad that there is not a TV camera wired to my heart and broadcasting to the world the sinful thoughts I had just today…I am a sinner.

    I am not perfect, I am forgiven.

    Ted is not perfect, he is forgiven.

    I have been judged by people, I have drug my family through hell and through the incredible grace of God, my family was brought back from the edge of disaster. Today I use that darkness of my past to help shine the light of Jesus Christ in to the places few want to venture.

    There is a war raging on our families, raging on our children, it is called Porn or Sexual Addiction or Homosexuality or what ever lable you want to give it…it is ugly. We are losing that war and satan is winning!

    Who is equiped to lead us out of this? How is the church doing handling this stuff? We are so ashamed of this even most our pastors are afraid to talk about it.

    Who should fight this war? Who do we put in charge of a war? People who know the enemy, people who know how the enemy operates, people who have seen the darkness…they are the only ones who know how to beat this.

    Who did God choose to lead his people to the promised land? A perfect person or a person with a passion? He called on Moses, God chose a murderer! Was that poor judgement or did God know the heart of Moses…I know that answer.

    So who can judge the heart of Ted Haggard? Not me and not you. Ted and Gayle are the real deal. As a couple they have done what few can; in a world which tosses aside marriages like disposable diapers…they stayed the course, they used the Bible. Gayle honored her marriage, honored her vows, honored her husband, honored her family and I can tell you she honored her God.

    I have sat with Gayle and watched her believe in her husband. I have seen their family interact in person…they forgive him and they believe in him. If his family believes in him, if they believe he is who he says he is, then who am I to judge?

    Pastor Ted, I believe in you…welcome to the war, it is awesome to see what God is doing through you once again. Shine the light into the darkness.

    I will not judge, I will leave that to God.

    Thanks for doing this Donny, God bless you brother.

    Steve G

    “Some want to live within the sound of the church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” CT Studd

  19. I HATE HATE HATE those Sony digital audio recorders. I bought one and never use it. Too dang complicated. Judge Ted? No thanks. I hate the way those rocks tend to miss my target and circle around just to smack me in the forehead. Of all the Haggards, I dislike Merle the most. My dad use to play his music full blast on a stereo next to my bedroom wall when I was a kid.
    Seriously, I don’t think us non-aliens judge Ted any worse than we judge the rest of you. Is that a good thing? (grin)

  20. I HATE HATE HATE those Sony digital audio recorders. I bought one and never use it. Too dang complicated. Judge Ted? No thanks. I hate the way those rocks tend to miss my target and circle around just to smack me in the forehead. Of all the Haggards, I dislike Merle the most. My dad use to play his music full blast on a stereo next to my bedroom wall when I was a kid.
    Seriously, I don’t think us non-aliens judge Ted any worse than we judge the rest of you. Is that a good thing? (grin)

  21. Why is it that sexual sin is so hard for us to deal with, repent of, forgive for?

    Those are not rhetorical questions.

    I believe it’s because our sex drive (men’s) is truly the most powerful drive in our being and one we have the least control over. Our fallen sex drive is like a loaded pistol given to a boy at puberty. It’s “operation” is so incredibly sensitive, we can mistakenly attach sexual energy and power to absolutely anything just by seeing it ‘paired’ with a sexual stimulus. Think of all the weird fetishes men can have.

    Think Pavlov’s dogs. The experimenter rang a bell then dropped a pellet. After a while, if the experimenter just rang the bell the dog drooled even if a pellet wasn’t dropped. Salivating became a conditioned response at the sound of the bell.

    How many bells in your life triggers a sexual response in you?

    In a survey done by a homosexual magazine, 45% of respondents said they’d been molested by an older man or boy when they were young. The boys’ were exposed to the stimulus of a man touching them, a trigger. Their body responded by releasing lust hormones and – wham! – They now have a reason to believe they are homosexual. If they fight it, valiantly, they may win and never again yield to that trigger. But if they start giving in, they’ll start thinking they are homosexual, and not just ‘conditioned’ to a homosexual trigger.

    I feel for Ted Haggard but doubt he should ever return to the ministry. Not because God doesn’t forgive or restore, but because his fall was so public and so detrimental.

    But then, Jim Bakker seems to be serving God quietly these days in. . .is it Palmdale, California? And not seeking the limelight, which I think is most important.

  22. Why is it that sexual sin is so hard for us to deal with, repent of, forgive for?

    Those are not rhetorical questions.

    I believe it’s because our sex drive (men’s) is truly the most powerful drive in our being and one we have the least control over. Our fallen sex drive is like a loaded pistol given to a boy at puberty. It’s “operation” is so incredibly sensitive, we can mistakenly attach sexual energy and power to absolutely anything just by seeing it ‘paired’ with a sexual stimulus. Think of all the weird fetishes men can have.

    Think Pavlov’s dogs. The experimenter rang a bell then dropped a pellet. After a while, if the experimenter just rang the bell the dog drooled even if a pellet wasn’t dropped. Salivating became a conditioned response at the sound of the bell.

    How many bells in your life triggers a sexual response in you?

    In a survey done by a homosexual magazine, 45% of respondents said they’d been molested by an older man or boy when they were young. The boys’ were exposed to the stimulus of a man touching them, a trigger. Their body responded by releasing lust hormones and – wham! – They now have a reason to believe they are homosexual. If they fight it, valiantly, they may win and never again yield to that trigger. But if they start giving in, they’ll start thinking they are homosexual, and not just ‘conditioned’ to a homosexual trigger.

    I feel for Ted Haggard but doubt he should ever return to the ministry. Not because God doesn’t forgive or restore, but because his fall was so public and so detrimental.

    But then, Jim Bakker seems to be serving God quietly these days in. . .is it Palmdale, California? And not seeking the limelight, which I think is most important.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.