In the article about Ted Haggard's moral failure, his final comments caused me some concern (News, January). He said he plans to "make the devil pay for what he's done in me and to my family, New Life Church and the body of Christ as a whole." His energies seem to be directed at what he'll do for God when his resurrection from being what he calls a "liar and deceiver" has occurred.
For 14 years I have led a recovery group for men who have fallen into sexual sin. I find that they oftentimes divert the attention away from the process of repentance that David understood when he cried out in the Old Testament: "Try me Lord and see if there be any wicked way in me" (see Ps. 139:23-24).
They say to themselves: Once I get back on my feet I'm going to do such and such for the Lord.
This can be a diversion from experiencing the consequences and restoration that needs to occur in their lives, families and the body of Christ. People who fall into sin need healing in those areas that have been affected by illicit behavior. "Making the devil pay" should not be the priority. The goal of a holy and transparent life will bring glory to the One who has already paid the price!
God and Your Health
Thank you for addressing the need for health among Christians ("God's Secrets for Divine Health" by Dr. Don Colbert, January). For too long we have been stuffing ourselves at the local buffet restaurants after worship services—and suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes as a result. The Bible says we must treat the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
I see a new heresy creeping into the church: the inordinate amount of attention given to diet and health. This heresy suggests that if we worship our bodies at the altar of a healthy diet, we'll never become sick. Like legalism, this altar will never be satisfied with the simple grace of God.
Consider the apostle Paul's deprivations while writing the epistles in a rat-infested jail eating the slop his Roman captors gave him. One has to only speculate how much more of a success he would have been had he stayed in Tarsus, daily exercising his body and eating a vegetarian diet. What will be the next fad to sweep the body of Christ?
Rev. Michael R. Bingham
More on Ted Haggard
I appreciated J. Lee Grady's comments about Ted Haggard's unfortunate moral failure (Fire in My Bones, January). It's easy to point fingers at folks who are center stage. As discouraging as this situation was, Haggard's experience taught me that a person is only as accountable as he wants to be. I stand in agreement with you in praying for the Haggard family.
Pickering, Ontario, Canada
With regard to Ted Haggard, no one has said very much about the dishonor his failure brought to God's character and name. I see this as an indictment of the American church.
In our current condition, we have no hope of influencing our cities or the nation with the gospel. Only a radical church will bring about holy upheaval in an ungodly society.
I live in New England, where witchcraft is alive and covens target ministry leaders. I suggest the real message from Ted Haggard's fall is that we need to be on our knees, praying for our pastors. We should be begging God for forgiveness for not giving back in prayer what has been given to us by our leaders.
West Haven, Vermont
The church teaches that homosexuals are an abomination and that God has nothing to do with them. How do you reconcile this teaching with the fact that Ted Haggard struggled with homosexuality and God knew this for decades? God still blessed him.
God blessed this man with a church that grew from a few people to 14,000. He favored Haggard by making him head of the National Association of Evangelicals. How do you explain all the blessings God gave to this man who struggled with this sin?
Albuquerque, New Mexico
I was upset that Colorado sex therapist Doug Weiss said he advocates that pastors submit to annual polygraph tests to prove they are not in immorality (News, January). What we should do for pastors is pray and lift them up to Jesus. I believe good Christian counseling from the Word of God is the best thing.
If Weiss believes a polygraph is the answer and not God, then why not give one to all doctors, teachers, baby sitters and day care workers? When will people get God's Word and put their trust in Him? I know it works because it was the Word, not a polygraph, that changed my life.
As a believer increases in spiritual authority, so does his sensitivity to sin and vulnerability. He becomes a more critical target, and the enemy gets more aggressive.
Therefore, it is necessary for him to put in place safety measures such as accountability, communication and intercession. As for Ted Haggard's "fall from grace," I believe he is embracing God's awesome grace more than ever. He has the right heart to finish this course.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Although I found Ted Haggard's willingness to "come clean" honorable, his last comment was unsettling. He said, "I'll make the devil pay for what he's done in me." Is he absolving himself of all responsibility and blaming the devil? It sounded as if he were saying, "The devil made me do it."
Mari An Nyce
As the news unfolded about Ted Haggard, my biggest lament was how long it would take for the Christian community to throw pastor Haggard in front of the bus.
It has to grieve the heart of the Father to see how "worldly" we are in our response to sin. Instead of destroying our wounded, the church must do as Galatians 6:1 says: "You who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." This is one of those opportunities to reveal the difference Christ makes in our lives.
Let's Be Soul-Winners
In his column, Stephen Strang listed important things for the church to address in the new year (Final Word, January). I believe it would have been stronger if you had added the additional goal of becoming effective soul-winners.
I believe our only hope of saving this disintegrating culture is to have a genuine revival with literally millions coming face to face with Jesus. Please use your considerable influence to help us stay on that track.
Lee's Summit, Missouri
Five Stars for The Nativity
The film The Nativity Story was great. It possessed an authenticity seldom seen in movies that are based on the Bible. There seems to be a growing interest in reaching the market with Christ-centered films. It was wonderful to see a story about the birth of Jesus on the big screen.
Thank you for telling the Charisma audience about The Nativity Story ("The Passion of the Christ Child" by Joel Kilpatrick, December). The movie beautifully portrayed our Savior's humble beginnings. The shame and fear of Mary's situation, the oppression in the land of Roman occupation, and Joseph's commitment to his call all became real to me. I applaud the makers of this remarkable film.
No More Politics
Count me in as another Charisma reader who wishes Christian publications, ministers, churches and others would refrain from endorsing political parties and candidates (Final Word, October). As a man of deep religious faith and a military veteran, I vote for political candidates whose voting records reflect my morals and values.
Issues that matter to me include protecting human rights, civil liberties and religious freedom, and preventing poverty, homelessness, hunger and more. I resent those who claim that people of faith or military veterans must vote a certain way.
I pray before I vote, and I always check out all the issues and policies of each candidate before I make my decision. I don't want anyone telling this man of faith how to vote. God doesn't endorse political parties or candidates. He wants us to pray before we do.
Michael D. Dowdy