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Leave Joel Alone
by Freddie Steel
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Leave Joel Alone!
Don’t be upset when God ‘moves’ outside the box.

Freddie Steel, Pastor
Life Church of Chicagoland

I came from a rather conservative Pentecostal background where we believed that we were to distance ourselves from the 'world' and the 'worldly influences' in order to keep our salvation secure and avoid the influences that could / would corrupt us and cause us to turn from Christ. This view of life, the Christian life, helped form an invisible barrier between church and those whom we were called by Christ to touch, encourage, and affect on His behalf.

There was one verse that we held to tightly, 2 Corinthians 6:17. It reads: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, . . ."The key word in this verse is 'separate.' In this context, it does not mean that the believer and the church are to distance ourselves from the worldly or unclean things (though we should always be aware of and on guard against the ill affect they can have on us), but that we are to be separated or set aside for a specific purpose and use. What we succeeded in doing was to make a mass exodus from the world to such an extent that we didn't influence them and represent Christ to them in their own elements and everyday life.

Joel Osteen, senior pastor of the largest church in America, seemed to burst on the scene out of nowhere a few years ago. Actually, Joel had been ‘on the scene’ for quite a few years as he worked with his late father and founding pastor, John Osteen. Joel served his church and his father/pastor but it was always, at his choosing, in obscurity, away from the ‘scene.’

Joel Osteen accepted the call to preach the week before his father died. Joel held no ambition for such a post and is quick to admit that he lacked the formal ministry and Bible training that would seem to be essential for such a demanding role. Nevertheless, he accepted the call to be the second senior pastor of this great church Lakewood in Dallas, Texas. I find it quite amusing that the minister who admits he did not seek such a role, and admits to feeling inadequately prepared for such a role, is the one Father God chose to raise up to complete and fulfill a tremendous end-time call and ministry.

Joel is ‘out of the box’ in several ways, but none so far-fetched that the undue criticism that he finds coming from the American church would be legitimate or necessary. I come to his defense with this article for more than one reason.

Someone complained recently while in my hearing that Joel was omitting or overlooking a couple of essentials in doctrine and theology. On this occasion, I knew from personal experience that the criticism had no foundation. The criticism caused me to imagine what it would have been like on D-Day when Allied Forces began to land on Normandy’s shores and the various branches of armed forces from the various allied nations began bickering and elevated the means and methods above the objective. If that had been the case, (and throughout WWII, similar episodes were frequent and cost countless numbers of lives), the enemy would have certainly prevailed.

Joel is the pastor of one of the largest churches in America, and is gaining an unbelievable visibility and influence in the world, and reaching segments of the harvest that the vast majority of us would never reach in three lifetimes. I heard Joel reply to a question posed by Larry King concerning Mitt Romney and Mormonism. I didn't agree with Joel's perspective on their doctrine, etc. but as I listened to him handle such issues on the Larry King program I knew that until recently he had not seen the need to prepare himself academically in areas such as apologetics, etc. So, what do you have? You have a young man inadequately-prepared regarding classical Bible training. However, that inability (if it actually is an inability) causes him to lean more heavily on the Holy Spirit that what others may be regarding dependency.

I recently had the opportunity to view his entire worship service and it was, as I had been saying, much more than what you see on his weekly, shorter-version TV program. There was substance, relevancy, reverence for God, His people, and His house, and more. In that location and setting, people are being drawn in with Joel’s encouraging messages but, after they arrive, they are introduced to discipleship ministries that should serve as a standard for us all to follow and model.

Friends, Joel Is not an enemy to the church but is a fellow-soldier in the most essential battlegrounds the world has ever known. Quite regularly, there are statistics and tragedies as we witness one minister fall after another – pasturing can get heavy and draining. I write this article to serve as a reminder that we add no new injury to the work Joel is doing and to the church at large. Pull for Joel. Pray for him, but please, for ‘Heaven’s sake,’ don’t add to his load or bring injury to the Lord’s body through criticisms and gossip.

When we get to heaven and we see the multitudes that Joel was responsible for leading to the Lord, will you be the one to raise protest to God and declare that their salvation is null and void because Joel preached a watered-down gospel? Not! Please don't criticize Joel until you have walked in his shoes and have witnessed in your own ministry the number of souls who have been delivered from hell and made ready for heaven as he has. At the least, stop criticizing and start praying for him and ask Father God not only to preserve the souls saved under his influence but to also use him and his great church to disciple them as Jesus commanded.

Today, I spoke to someone who just lost a loved one. The loved one had been through extended periods of hell on earth and was wounded, defeated, and bound. However, they held tightly to their Catholic faith though they didn't live it but rather struggled miserably in relying on it. The loved one told me today that the deceased had started listening to Joel Osteen and over a short period of time his message got through and they asked Jesus into their heart and was 'saved' the night before they died. I don't know about you, but that's just something I won't knock or criticize.

Posted by Pastor Freddie Steel 080408 - Powered by WebRing.
Bishop Freddie Steel – revfts@usa.net - www.lifeinchicago.org

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