One of my first preaching opportunities came in Red Rock, Oklahoma. Father Frank, as we affectionately referred to him at the time, needed someone to "fill the pulpit" while he would be away. I have always been grateful for the opportunity and regularly tell young parents it was at Red Rock where I learned to value young children in worship. Yes, sometimes noisy young children need to be in worship with their family and community.
Frank and I have kept in sporadic contact over the years since we left Oklahoma Baptist University (Not sure if he would want everyone to know it has been 20 years). One of these days he may offer more of his story but for now I am glad he is offering glimpses so others will understand the real frailty we face as human beings and that certainly includes pastors/ministers.
Over at his new blog, Frank reflects on his experience in light of the recent news regarding Ted Haggard. One of the oft overlooked pieces in the equation of the "fall" is what happens when a person is left to himself – isolated and alone. Certainly we do this to ourselves. Temptation comes our way and we cannot really invite someone close because we would then be exposed and we worry what they would think of us. Our system contains a built in aversion to honesty. We are told to find partners for accountability but in the end, we know how to manage our sin even in the midst of these kinds of relationships. The pressure mounts and eventually we crumble under the weight.
I admit to not knowing any of the details, but when I read that James Dobson withdrew from the group put together to help Haggard through this because he was too busy, I thought, "That figures." Here is a person who benefited greatly from Haggard’s ministry in Colorado Springs and when it is tough we cannot cut a radio program short, record a couple back to back or spare some time for a "friend." No one is asking Dobson to move in with Haggard! When other see how those in hight profile situations are "apparently" shunned, what would they think might happen to them.
Go read Frank’s post. Read just what happens when someone takes the time and when a community gives space for repentance, healing and restoration. His road has not been easy. And, many reminders yet remain. But, he points up the kinds of things he needed along the way.
I miss conversations with Frank.