Brother Frank and I arrived at Lakewood about 10 AM for the 11 AM service on January 20, 2019. What a blessing it was to see thousands of Christians in downtown Houston coming to church on Sunday morning. We introduced ourselves at the information booth and we were immediately given VIP treatment by the lady who serves as Director of Missions. She encouraged us to get into Pastor Joel’s reception line as the 8:30 service was just dismissing.
I told Joel that I visited the old church with Holy Hubert Lindsey back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I forgot to mention Norval Hayes. Joel remembered Holy Hubert. He greeted everyone warmly and demonstrated a sincere interest in his visitors. Pastors were standing by to pray for any requests as there wasn’t time for Joel to do so. A pastor prayed for our Texas mission to the campuses.
Brother Frank agreed with me that we should take advantage of everything the church had to offer. Therefore, we attended the Communion service and one of the associate pastors gave a short message urging believers to not be content to be ordinary but to move in the supernatural as the disciples did when they passed the loaves and fishes which Jesus had blessed to the multitude.
The director of missions personally escorted us to the third row, which was included in the roped off section at the front of the church. We sat two rows behind Pastor Joel. The congregation entered into a dynamic time of worship. Anyone was invited forward for prayer, Brother Frank and I accepted the offer at the altar, which took about 10 minutes of the service. A sister prayed an anointed prayer over me.
Joel’s sister took up the offering with no attempt at pressure to give. Joel’s brother, Paul, gave an exhortation about winning soul’s and especially believing God for the salvation of our family members. A man, who grew up in the church but fell into deep sin, gave his testimony of returning to the Lord. Paul introduced an old couple who were the first youth pastors of the church back when Lakewood got started 60 years ago.
Joel preached one of the best messages I have heard him preach. His theme was that God wanted to demonstrate in a miraculous way to the unbelieving world that God’s grace was upon us all. God will give ordinary people the power to do the extraordinary in public for everyone to see.
Joel illustrated his point with the story of David and Goliath, the three young Hebrews thrown in the fiery furnace and Elijah calling fire down from heaven. Each miracle put fear in the hearts of unbelievers. David was treated with respect by his family members after killing the giant. Seeing the Hebrews saved from the fire, Nebuchadnezzar lifted the youths out of the pit and promoted them to high office, decreeing that anyone who spoke against their god should be torn limb from limb. The fire from heaven which Elijah called down even consumed the rocks. Then the people cried out, “The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.”
Joel knows how to tell these Old Testament stories in a lively manner and teaches how the lessons may be applied to our everyday lives. Joel also gave two New Testament examples supporting his thesis. Anyone who claims that Joel doesn’t preach the Bible does not know what he is talking about.
Joel never misses a beat when he preaches, no hem hawing around in the pulpit. After the sermon, he gave an at five-minute altar call for repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. Dozens in our section stood as Joel led them in a sinner’s prayer.
Brother Frank and I went to the book store. Meanwhile, another long line formed in the lobby to meet our good pastor. We left the building at 1:15, Joel was still greeting guests. Afterward, his practice is to go to the editing room to edit his message for television. There was a Spanish speaking service at 2 PM and a youth service at night. There is a lot going on at Lakewood beside what people see on TV.
There was ethnic, racial and, I assume, economic diversity in the congregation. No big deal is ever made of this. It is natural, (or maybe I should say spiritual) to people discipled by Brother Osteen. We experienced a considerable amount of friendliness. It was an lovely time of worship and teaching and fellowship.
Why Joel has so many critics can only be attributed to ignorance, immaturity or, I fear, envy. Hopefully, not much of the latter, among those who name the name of Christ. Joel is like Trump in that he is either loved or hated.
What is perplexing is that he is despised by so many Christians. Most of whom have probably never heard one of his sermons but have judged him by sound bites cherry picked by his foes, usually not even from his sermons but television interviews where Joel usually does not speak at forthrightly as he does from his pulpit. Joel has his reasons, for this I am sure, for he is a smart man, far shrewder than the ones interviewing him or criticizing him.
The above is just some of the highlights of our morning, every minute of the three hours we spent at the church was blessed. Lakewood’s challenge in the new years is to take “new ground.”
So, watch out! You have not seen anything yet from “America’s Pastor,” who is reaching the world out of Houston, TX. He plays a big role in MAGA.
By the way, President Trump likes Joel Osteen. They both think big! What else would you expect from a Texan? Or for that matter, according to Joel, what else would you expect from any committed Christian with faith the size of a mustard seed.