Let's Talk Shares in a Night of Hope
On June 7th, LTOCZ.com set out to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY to share in a Night of Hope with Joel and Victoria Osteen. This event could have been called, "A Perfect Night of Hope "with Joel and Victoria as the weather was beautiful, the stadium was clean, packed and accommodating with the scents of an open grill and cold, fresh lemonade on hand, and (as Joel Osteen openly requests) hearts were receptive.
The evening was a family event. Joel and Victoria openly embraced thousands by sharing their family's struggles and triumphs which included song selections sung and played by their children Jonathan and Alexandria, a testimony from Dodie Osteen- Joel's mother and author of the inspiring book Healed of Cancer , as well as a glimpse in to the healing ministry of his brother Paul Osteen, M.D. No stone was left unturned as the Osteen's made it perfectly clear, theirs was not a life lived free from the harsh trials and tribulations of life but was instead lives lived in faith, obedience and in hope of God's sovereign grace and power.
What we loved-
We sat amongst thousands to hear Joel's message of encouragement as he admonished all not to allow the difficulties in life defeat you. Joel worked hard to change the negative thinking perspective of those who may buckle under the weight of their current circumstances as he challenged them to appreciate the 'stinky stuff' in life as fertilizer which helps them to grow. Joel distinguished God's separate mercies of prevention and sustaining as he reminded us that although many of us will pray and ask God to prevent something hard and uncomfortable from happening to us (which at times He will), God will also sustain us when things are happening to us because of His grace and mercy. Referencing Daniel 3:12-30, Joel expressed to his audience the concept of God not only being with them through life's fires but further allowing the heat to burn only the shackles that bind.
We are called Let's Talk for a reason-
So I want to talk about this- Clearly thousands packed this arena and realized they need hope and encouragement in their lives. You wouldn't purchase the ticket, travel to the Bronx, and clamor through thousands of people if you weren't searching for something. As a theologian, I could easily understand why many have bought Joel Osteen under the critical label of a "prosperity preacher" but as a Christian I am called to love not to judge. If I were to sit down and pray with Joel Osteen, my prayer would be that he not fear the rejection of people who desperately need to understand that God's grace and mercy comes through our obedience to his Word and not through hope alone.
Although Joel is a gifted inspirational speaker who share biblical promises which fills our hearts with hopes and can take many from despair to confidence within two hours, as a Pastor Joel carries the burden of correction. This means he holds an obligation to share the biblical consequences of not following biblical mandate as well. The danger of giving a lot of ingredients without sharing a recipe is that once all put together it can create either a culinary masterpiece or a wasted mess. I left replete with ingredients and although I have studied the Bible and continue to study the Bible on a daily basis, I did not have a recipe. Put another way, Joel's ministry reminds me of the favorite teacher in school of great teachers. Although all of the teachers in the school were highly qualified trained education professional, it was always the teacher that didn't give any homework the kids loved the most. In my opinion, Joel is the teacher that doesn't give homework.
Now many may disagree with me, even my staff and I may see differently on this perspective but homework is a necessary part of the learning process. Some teachers feel that what they teach in their class is enough and homework serves to overwhelm and burden their students disallowing the daily coursework a chance to settle in. Other teachers, like myself, believe homework is critically important part of the learning process because it allows the student an opportunity to apply the information of which there would inevitably be a test. I would have loved to leave a Night of Hope with some homework or at least an assignment to work on. Instead I feared for the souls that were not active in their churches, engaged in bible study, or in seminary that may have left believing all of these biblical promises would just eventually happen whether they learned to forgive, let go of grudges, confess their sins, and change their behaviors or not.
Deuteronomy 28:3-14 is one of the most highly recognized scriptures preached to show the goodness of God's blessings but it should be shared starting with verses 1-2 and continued throughout verses 15-68; God wants to bless His children; all servants of the Lord should agree with this biblical substantiated truth. He created us to live in fellowship with Him and each other. True fellowship with God and others means absorbing His will, instruction and ways (breathing God in) and then living a life reflective of God's will by showing love, forgiveness, kindness, patience and faithful to each other (breathing God out). At the end of an incredible night, many were inspired and that is a good thing. Still within the same night, many committed to give their lives to Christ and this is a great thing! Below you will find a video and slideshow of our sharing in a Night of Hope. Our hope is that it is a blessing to you as it was most certainly a blessing to us.