You wouldn’t be under attack if you were not a threat. If they didn’t see your gifts, they wouldn’t have reason to slander you. If they could control you, they wouldn’t have reason to complain that they can’t box you in. When people lie, accuse, when they throw stones, take it as a compliment. It says much more about their lack of character and integrity than it says about you. What they are really telling you is they wish they could stand in your shoes. They wish they could survive what you have and still thrive. This is the business of the Lord making your enemies your footstool. Be built by their attacks, not broken by them. Don’t let your enemies see more in you than you see in yourself. Take the stones that they’ve thrown and build roads to your future with them.
Psalm 118:22 (VOICE)
The stone that the builders rejected has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.
Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston have been under a thunderstorm of accusation almost as big as the Houston flood itself. The controversy is over why their church doors were not open to those in the city seeking shelter and food. I admit, it looked bad. A megachurch directly in the city hit by the biggest flood since Katrina. I also admit I said this to myself, I was like self, why arent the doors of this church open for people? Especially when video and pics are taken from a non-flooded parking lot at the church. Now I had to check in with why I had that question within myself because I have no problem at with Osteen’s wealth. And although there are hustler preachers out there who are only interested in people’s pocketbooks, I have never once thought that Osteen was one of them. I know he’s a man of God and is changing many lives. My one and only eyebrow raise with him was his endorsement of Trump during the presidential campaign. I would love to pick Osteen’s brain on this topic, because I have a problem with white Evangelicals backing this president… a major problem. But Harvey in Houston is a completely different subject as it relates to Joel Osteen.
Even though it didn’t “look good” that the doors to Lakewood church were closed, I had to reserve judgement. I have the Holy Spirit and very directly received a “reserve your judgement” nudge from Him. So I did. I wasn’t going to post anything anti-Osteen or anti-Lakewood church on social media. AND NOW THE TRUTH COMES OUT. We find very clearly that parts of Lakewood Church were greatly flooded. (See pic below) Now you could not see the internal flooding from the street, so taking pictures and video from the parking lot or front doors of the church could not capture images of the flooding. There’s no way the church could have opened it’s doors to those seeking shelter if the building needed rescue itself. Selah.
This is a good lesson for those who call themselves believers, many of which I personally saw repost articles on how this church was guilty of taking from the people of Houston, to now refuse to give back to them in a time of need. We have to be careful of the bandwagons we jump on. We have to discern truth, and while we are seeking it, we have to reserve judgement until it is revealed. We have to recognize the enemy’s devices. The moment this big shaming attack happened to a man of God, we at the very least have to pause and attempt to recognize why. This story getting so much attention should alone be a reason for pause, because the attack was coming for the Body of Christ. Is the enemy behind this, has to be something we ask, especially when a story is being spread so quickly. Is this a deflection from the real issue, that real people have been displaced and are in need of help and prayer. Those are the questions we must ask. However now that the truth has come out, those accusing Osteen and Lakewood will not refute their claims, they wont apologize, they wont even drop a simple “my bad” on social media. Nor will the pictures of a flooded church circulate as quickly as the pictures from the unflooded parking lot did. Folk will just go on about their lives, leaving the debris of the damage they caused.
Reflecting on all of this I’m reminded, (another Holy Spirit nudge), of the times when people came for me, who based opinions about me completely on lies, hearsay and gossip. How hurtful that was to be on the receiving end of such vicious attacks from people who had personal agendas to discredit me…and the fact that this came from the church pushes a sword in deeper into an already infectious wound. And oh how hurtful it was that so many were willing to just go along with their stories, never questioning their validity. Those who would roll their eyes when they saw me, or who wouldn’t return my phone calls, or who gave me mad cold shoulder action all up in the sanctuary of the saints. It’s laughable to me now, but I remember it all, and it will all look really good in my book.
We have to remember that being accused does not equal guilt. Some of the greatest movements in history took place after someone first endured great attack. Ask Martin Luther King, he wasn’t always revered, he was first reviled by the masses before he was ever celebrated. Yet he was guilty of no wrong doing, only of moving an entire nation forward. Oftentimes changing of a tide or a season is accompanied by wrong accusation because people have a problem with being confronted with the low place they live in. Be glad when you are accused when you know you’re not guilty. It’s a sign for a table being set before you in the very presence of your enemies. The very reason that Osteen and Lakewood have come under such attack is because they have done great things for the Kingdom of God and oh the enemy, he no likey that. This current onslaught of attack will only propel them forward into greater exploits. The same is true for us. When we’re attacked, greater exploits are ahead of us. Just make sure the bandwagon you jump on is heading in the right direction.
Rocked to my core! The wind knocked completely out of me! I have spent the last several days stuck on a couch in an emotional pendulum swing between shock and grief. And although my faith has always been strong, this, this thing, your not being on the earth anymore, has shaken me to that core, down to my very faith. It’s like I want to ask the Lord, did You get this one wrong? My niece who embraced me from the very moment she met me after marrying into her family. The one who called me Auntie, thus calling me family when my heart ached from the loss of my own family. In those days when the passing of my mother was fresh, and my support was thin, Stacey had no idea how she blessed me with her very presence, with her acceptance, with her embrace. She had no idea how she made me feel loved without even trying, I can only hope that I made her feel the same. And all the countless qualities she possessed that others experienced through her that I don’t even know about, but so many that I saw for myself. Vibrant, beautiful, talented, creative, warm. The beautiful young woman who smiled with her whole face. The special young woman who radiated of positivity, who was a beacon and example for other young people on how to do this “live your dreams” thing. The one who radiated Black Girl Magic in exquisite and rich dark chocolate skin. With all of this, her young marriage, and babies not yet in grade school, her life budding of newness, is it possible that You got this one wrong God? I know You can’t make mistakes but this has got me stuck on this couch, the wondering if maybe for the first time in history, that this was in fact a mistake. Please help me to comprehend.
And then it occurs to me. A word is dropped in my spirit, this word is seldomly taught in churches. That word is… sovereign. It is the understanding that God You have all power, that You have all authority. And regardless of my little human brain to comprehend what has taken place, You are sovereign. Yet with this understanding we still grieve our great loss, the loss of a child, a mother, a wife, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a niece. We grieve the loss of the phenomenal deposit of Your likeness in her.
We also honor the utmost privilege of knowing that she is now in Your full presence… again. For we know to be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord, and that she belonged to You from the beginning of time. She has now only returned to that place which was her home all along. She is gloriously draped in love, and is now ever abounding in You. Thank you Jesus for taking all of her pain away, she will not again know struggle, illness, weakness, nor despair. She was a woman of God on earth, and now she receives her reward in every moment remaining in eternity. She ran her race, and while we desire that she had more time to run it, she did indeed run it well.
So now Holy Spirit, be who You are, be our Comforter. Be our strength. Be the bearer of our grief. For those who knew her for the full course of her life, and cared for her most directly, be their strength. For those who are now redefining their lives with the inconceivable thought of being without her, be their strength. For those who were touched in personal ways by who she was, be our strength. Comfort us oh God, let us feel Your presence near. And let us have a glimpse of and take great console in the assurance of where she is today. It is an honor to have this knowing and this peace. That she is ever abounding in paradise with You. How glorious she is, how magnificent is that place. Let us be honored by the moments we had with her beautiful spirit as we attempt to accept that she has returned home.
Dear Stacey, thank you for embracing me. Thank you for making me feel loved and accepted. I know now as you are in the full presence of God, that you now understand how special you were to me, are to me. As I grieve loosing you now, I’m just now starting to understand that I am also grieving the loss of you after my divorce, I’m grieving the family I had in you. But I truly thank you for the honor and privilege of knowing you and loving you. It’s amazing the work that was completed in you in countless ways. Your parents did a fabulous job in molding you into this ray of sunshine that lit up dark places. The crevasses of my heart will always be filled by you. Thank you for being my family. I love you niece, until we meet again.
Your Auntie Tiff
(Thank you cousin Jeannie Bates and sis Donyia Burnett for allowing me to grieve and celebrate with the family.)