After one of my last blogs, I received the message below, which is actually the 2nd message I have received from a well respected minister trying to assist me, and give me some advice. The first one I received from him after I wrote the piece on Ted Haggard, in which he shared some of his “wisdom” with me regarding the Ted Haggard piece and then offered me some advice to “help me” with my own resurrected ministry. After one of my last blogs which I went into detail really for the first time about my past use and deliverance of my drug addiction, which was almost 15 years ago BTW, he decided to offer me some “more advice”. Below, is his message and then my answer. I have decided to answer it in my blog as it seems to have peaked his curiosity. If I am wrong, I will receive correction. I leave it to my fellow ministers and the Body of Christ to let me know.
I appreciate what you think you are trying to do by sharing your past with your readers. But as I communicated to you before, the continued mention of your previous drug addiction will and is having negative effect on your ministry. There is quite a difference in someone like you, who was in ministry and left it for business and fell away, than say someone like Nicky Cruz who was in sin and then was saved. In Cruz’s life the sin was before grace and his testimony of his past is to God’s mercy. In your case you were an embarrassment to the ministry as man who was once a minister who became a drug addict. I am thankful that you have cleaned up your life and are attempting to be a minister again, but I think you will find if you refrain from the continued mention of your past drug addiction, pastors such as myself will feel more comfortable inviting you to share your ministry in our churches. After all from what I see, your ministry isn’t burning up the circuit now is it? Instead, I suggest you use the approach of Paul in sharing your sinful past. I am honestly trying to give you some advice that I believe will help you. As you know I regularly assist and counsel ministers, and I pray you take this in the spirit it is given, from one who didn’t fall and who remained faithful.
Pastor **** *******
Dear Pastor ****, Are you Trying to Help Me or Hurt Me? You ask me take this is in the spirit given, what spirit is that, exactly? When I first decided to return to my calling of being a minister, in my bios, conversations and in my ministry I never made mention that I ever used drugs, as it was an embarrassment to me. It was at the behest of my wife that I honestly lay myself open to the Body of Christ and be completely open with my life, and share that I was once, yes indeed a drug addict. Yes I regret that I used drugs for a few years, but I had never used them before or since.
The message of the Grace of the Cross that I now share is a powerful message. It is filled with stories of those who have come to know Jesus down through the centuries, those mentioned in the Bible, and new stories like those of Christian Claudio, Nardeen Adel and me, yes that’s right…me. I began preaching as a young man and since my dad was a preacher, I used to feel like I was born saved. After leaving the ministry, then falling away, and now coming back I realize even more there are no perfect people, only a perfect Christ, with the message of a perfect man on a cross. And it is that message of the Cross that is a powerful force in my life as I know what the real world is like. It took a miracle for the grace of God to pull me from the pit of sin I was in, as it was dark, and it was deep. And yes I was a minister before that; so what has that to do with Grace?.
Not talk about it, sugar coat it, is your advice? I am sorry, I am going to shout it from the top of my lungs and if there are ministers that are uncomfortable with me because of that, then so be it. My calling is not from man but from God. If there are churches that will not invite me as a result, then so be it. Yes I was a minister, and once fell from grace. But I was not in the ministry when I fell. And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but ministers are men, and man is full of sin, every one of us. I believe that it is time for men of God to stand up and let it be known that we as ministers are not any different from the average man sitting in the pew. It is only by seeking God, and by humility that we are able to do the task of ministry. We are not better, we are not special; we are servants, and we are imperfect, each and every one of us.
So my advice to you is you can put this where the SON does shine, and that is on me and every one of us saved by grace. I also suggest you read Psalms 51 in your approach in giving advice, as God desires a repentant heart; David shared his and I will share mine.
And as far as sharing my past I am not sure what approach of Paul you are referring to but let me share a little of his approach that I will follow with you from Philippians 3(Message)
Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances. The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials.The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.