I finally did it. I got up and got my happy butt to Lakewood Church, home of my favorite pastor Joel Osteen. I was skeptical about him at first, I have had too many experiences that have been overtly negative with the church… and pastors. I have watched as tele-evangelists have not only been knocked from their pulpits, they have been exposed as the LAST people on EARTH to take Biblical advice from, at all. Who can forget Swaggert? He was a porn freak. Recently, Ted, a drugged out homosexual who I hear is now living right- good for you, Ted. Jim Baker drugged and raped his secretary, stole from his followers and well, maybe you remember the rest. There are others. I was told once as a brand new Christian to watch the lives of others, their truth will show.
So, I watch. One thing I have noticed is that to whom much is given, much is expected. I have also noticed that men, with the power of the pulpit are going to be tested. Thank you God for exposing the men allowed to preach…keep exposing… PLEASE! I feel for the Catholic Church, over and over priests are being outed for their crimes, but so many are allowed to continue them. Yep, I mistrust the preacher. Sorry, but I do. To speak and have a ‘following’ is heady stuff. The temptations must be plentiful and designed specifically for each person behind the pit. Women and money sum up a lot- but it is all under the umbrella of ‘POWER’.
I watched and listened to Osteen with mistrusting eyes and ears. I still watch closely…but, I think this guy may be for real. I would hate to be wrong, it has taken forever for me to walk into a church again. Gandhi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” We sure do fall short, but when it is super evident is when we believe that God is going to kill a preacher if he doesn’t get 8 million dollars. God is not a circus act. So when I went to Lakewood and sat in the arena for myself, I hoped and prayed there would be no ring leaders, no pitch men, criers or clowns. I literally get sick to my stomach when I am around people who try and make God into an act…threw up once at a healing. The “healer” said that he had just heard God say that anyone who gave him a 20 dollar bill would never have to have another surgery in their life. I puked. Later I saw him on 60 minutes. He was a bad guy. God was not telling him anything, some guy in the back was reading the cards filled out by the audience.
Charlie and I got to Lakewood on time and we started to sing with the band. Awesome band. The words were available on the monitors, large enough for all of us to see. After lots of singing Victoria came out and talked about family and how she encourages us all to ‘pray a hedge’ of safety around our families. I have done that since before my babies were born. She also guided the offering. She said that God wanted us to give happily and if we aren’t happy about it- not to give. I have not really cared for Victoria’s delivery in the past, but she did okay and I appreciated what she said. I just wish she could speak without the ‘preachy-voice’. Like, when one orders a cup of coffee from Starbucks you don’t have “preachy-voice’ and add ten ‘Thank you Fathers’. Just talk to me Victoria, that is enough!
Then it was Joel’s turn. I recently read his book, Become a Better You. And since he was the only preacher on TV I trust, it was nice to see him. He gets criticized for not preaching the ‘other side’. You know, the “we are all dirty rags, we need to repent, we are unworthy, we are sinners, we are the only ones who will make it to heaven.” After 30 years of hearing those messages, I was done. I want to live my life with my head held up. Apparently I was worthy enough in Jesus’s eye to be the recipient of His grace.
About 10 years or so ago I was at my father’s house. My step-monster had every TV on in the house to a preacher she just loved. I couldn’t escape his wrath. I ended up with my dad in the den. “What do you think of him, Kim?” My dad asked. He pointed to the television and then added that the preacher was Step-monsters favorite.
“Dad, I have heard the same thing over and over. I am not worthy. The only way is Jesus. I am going to hell if I don’t accept Jesus. I better tithe or God will TAKE it from me. God is ready to test me with awful things if I do not repent.” This preacher was spitting mad, red-faced and full of fire and brimstone. I then told my dad, “I need to hear HOW to live. What would it be like to hear what it MEANS to ‘follow’ Jesus. What does that really mean, Dad? Or to trust Him? How? I get it, I need to, but this pastor sure isn’t helping me with the next steps.”
Dad looked at me, and get this, agreed I had a point.
I wanted out of the words and into life. Tell me how preacher, advise me how. Oh, and quit yelling at me.
Joel gives good advice. He uses the Bible and stays positive, much to the chagrin of those who think the only way to spread the Word is through Hell’s Kitchen. Cook up the scary message and people will freak and give their money. Ahh…recipe for success!
I guess since Joel is using a different recipe he is wrong? According to Joel’s naysayers, Joel is very wrong. Too positive, and get this, Joel won’t say whether or not certain groups of people will be in Heaven. See, I dig the fact that this preacher isn’t playing God…and maybe because he is NOT playing GOD he won’t fall like the others who have.
Let God judge, let Jesus save and let believers try their best on their own terms with their personal God.
Thanks Joel and Victoria for being positive. I never puke when I watch you- discernment is a promise!