Did the SBC Boot Osteen?

Pat Robertson
The February 22, 2005 airing of the 700 Club featured a story entitled “The Osteens on the Power of Positive Believing.” Lisa Ryan interviewed Joel and Victoria Osteen from their Houston home. They talked about how Joel reluctantly inherited the ministry after his father, John Osteen, passed away in 1999. The discussion centered around their feel-good positive message, the run away growth of the gigantic Lakewood Church, and Osteen’s recent New York Times best seller. When the pre-taped segment cut back to the studio, Pat Robertson said, “That’s amazing. ya know, John Osteen was a good friend. He was a Southern Baptist minister, who was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and the Southern Baptists kicked him out – bottom line.” (mp3 audio clip)

The statement seemed odd since, contrary to their narrow-minded reputation, the Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t make a habit of kicking people out. Unlike other denominations, the SBC holds no authority over its pastor’s or the autonomous local churches that they serve. Baptists believe that Christ alone serves as the head of His church and therefore, they resist denominational hierarchical structure. In Southern Baptist life, church discipline takes place within the local church because no higher authority exists. The SBC could not have defrocked John Osteen because the convention does not have the jurisdiction to do so.

I decided to do a little checking into the matter. Shortly after his death, Charisma Magazine published an article that mentioned the debacle. they reported:

“The explosive growth and freedom in the Spirit that have characterized Lakewood Church from its beginning did not come without a price. Joel’s father had been a successful Southern Baptist pastor throughout the 1950s – until he was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1958 while pastoring Hibbard Memorial Baptist Church in Houston. Southern Baptist officials subsequently put him on trial for heresy. Rather than battling it out and furthering division, Osteen chose to leave the denomination and start his own church.

Charisma – August 2000

I’d be interested to know the identity of these so called “SBC officials.” The Southern Baptist Convention does not hold heresy trials. The more likely scenario probably involved fellow pastors, at the local association level, who called into question Osteen’s aberrant theology and practices.

Charisma has a history of spinning their stories to make the SBC look extremely antagonistic to their cause. Even so, they state here that John Osteen did not get kicked out. He left Baptist life under his own accord, in order to avert any theological accountability.

Ironically, Pat Robertson’s 700 Club airs on FamilyNet, the broadcasting network owned by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. For some reason Pat Robertson, Charisma Magazine, and others who give a voice to these circles like to paint Southern Baptists as anti-Holy Spirit. Nothing could be further from the truth. I personally know of at least one church where this gross misconception has caused division and strife. Robertson’s words serve to deepen the wounds and hamper understanding. Whatever the motivation, the evidence indicates that John Osteen did not get kicked out of the SBC for being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Pat Robertson has his facts wrong and owes Southern Baptists an apology – bottom line.

34 comments on “Did the SBC Boot Osteen?

  1. Dr. Hugo A. Hackenbush on said:

    Osteen & the black sheep of that family

    Generally what is lost when reseraching the Osteen family is the lack of a paper trail of what money is collected, where it is spent and how much actually goes to the Osteens. That’s where the bodies are burried so to speak when it comes to the Osteen family. When an investigative journalist can crack taht code the house of cards of the Osteens (and others) will quickly fall with the outcry of public and Christian ethical attention.

    The first place journalists should look is to Joel Osteen’s brother in law Gary Simons, with his High Point Church in Arlington, Texas. Few have paid much attention to him (in contrast to Joel) but this man assumed he would be the heir apparent to the late John Osteen and had no clue the youngest son (hidden in the television department) would emerge as John’s successor.

    Gary Simons is married to one of the youngest original Osteen Children (April). Gary preached one of the Sunday’s near or after John’s death in what appeared to be an “audition,” he believed would put him in the cat-bird seat. There are references to his mother in law (Dodie) with cut away shots (supposedly overseen by Joel) but not fooling her for a moment which successor would climb to the Osteen throne.

    Almost immediately with the annoucement of Joel’s succession (as an interim and later final selection) brother in law Gary threw a temper tantrum by leaving the family in search of greener pastures for his own dynasty. His family connections lay in and around San Antonio as well as southeast Texas but his search led him up interstate 45 to the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. Today (March 2005) he sits in a reportedly $60 million dollar valued former Johnson and Johnson Medical Campus, Executive Offices, Conference Center and Manufacturingn plant on 107 acres and 420,000 square feet remodled similar to Lakewood with all the glory to he and his wife’s faith to make it happen. (It sits on the north western corner of Highway 360 and Interstate 20 on the Arlington/Grand Prairie line.

    How does a son-in-law of the Osteen dynasty start a new church in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex and within two years puchase the former J&J property for $13.5 million? He employs much of the same style his father-in-law John and almost in competition with brother-in-law Joel in the grab to create in just months what it took his father-in-law to build over decades.

    From one of his sermons in 2002, Simons cites the example of pushing his way into a secure area of a Houston convention center (on the name of his father-in-law) of a Benny Hinn crusade in the 1990s. And supposedly gets Hinn’s blessing (or anointing) to be like Hinn with his own ministry. Its a tie that will surface again in 2002 when Hinn had a crusade at the American Airlines Center with Simons on his “pastors” stage.

    Simons starts with a “home church” from his home with less than a dozen of Lakewood’s faithful following, growing to entice other area small groups, pastors and churches to merge into his big tent plans to “pastor the metroplex.” His vision(s) — changing frequently — not only muscle in on the territory but to the dreams of domination not only of the DFW metroplex, but with satellite campus churches around the USA and World.

    Simons goes from his home to renting an Elementary school on a street called “High Point” in Arlington, to a Jr. High auditorium (seating 1000) and eventually gettiing to nearly fill it 4 times over in 2002 before making his next move at aquiring a property equal to the size and visiblity of the Osteen dynasty in Houston.

    Along the way several major names rangiing from Paul Crouch of TBN to Marcus and Joni Lamb of the starting Daystar Network give time and invitation to bank on the Osteen name with Gary and April’s either appearance on their flagship shows (Celebration/Daystar, Praise the Lord/TBN) and even serveral hosting opportunities for Simons in 2001 & 2002 on TBN’s flagship program from Irving, Texas.

    However, the popularity of brother Gary seems to peak in 2002 as he motivates his flock to give toward the down payment and later purchase of the former J&J campus for $13.5 million dollars. Then his plans go on hold for the balance of 2002 and most of 2003. The amount of purchase, financing, and rennovation costs come closer to $25 million dollars by late 2003 into its opening in April of 2004.

    By 2004 even the most sold out word-faith disciples begin to question Simon’s ability to pay for all his “dreams and visions.” In 2002 Simons was content to advertise his sanctuary of the J&J property would rival Lakewood’s 8000 seat auditorium. Then, a week after attending the ground breaking for Joel’s 20,000 seat Compaq Center Simons comes back to DFW to annouce God had granted him the vision for a 25,000 seat arena to be built in his still unfinished High Point Church former J&J property.

    Unlike brother Joel, Simon’s dream would include nightmares of his brother in law eclipsing his own potential as heir apparant to “Daddy-John,” with failed attempts to gain publicity (long term) for his property including a stint to support the soldiers of the gulf war, a festival of lights each Christmas on his campus, and a well publicized but not yet materialized faith based initiative with President Bush’s administration for a medical clinic on his campus property.

    Promises of major name Charismatic Celebrities and use of his “Convention Center” have yet to produce big names such as Joyce Meyer from moving to hold events from that property instead of the more respected American Airlines Center or the more successful Potters House under TD Jakes in Dallas.

    As quickly as Simons aquires talented staff and associates he looses them under dubious circumstances. Many join his plans but separate quietly and disappear from view. Any who rise to the equality of Simons are not long for continued service and disappear as well.

    To look inside the Osteen empire of Houston the pattern of potential abuses including the money trail should start with an examination of the press with Simons in DFW. From the get go in the new property in April of 2004 came the HEAPS campagin with a supposed vision God would raise $25 milllion dollars for Simons by November 2004 to pay off the costs of purchase and construction. Saying that goal had been reached (and the crisis supposedly over) more support staff either left or resigned after extended delay or denial to pay salaries or fund programs such as missions and missionaries.

    Neither have capacitiy crowds filled the just shy of 4,500 seats, nor have there been multiiple services (as predicted by Simons) in 2004 to early 2005. It has been several years since Simons has been invited to host programs from TBN however remains a semi-annual guest on the Daystar Network’s flagshiip Celebration program. In that capacity the Lamb’s place more emphasis on relections of John Osteen instead of any of Gary Simon’s achievements of his mega church wannabe property.

    Fewer big name pastors or area churches associate with Simons as he has burned to many bridges in backhanded statements of the smaller churches as “me my four and no more” or traditional denominations lacking his own brand of faith,” with the disclaimer to “God Bless the ________ (blanks) for whatever they do or have done.

    Had Simons stayed in Houston, in his capacity as Praise and Wortship Leader, there might not have been the rise and popularity of what brother Joel has become. But its been commented on by former Lakewood and in-the-know Osteen followers that there was no love loss with Simons exit from Houston. Though Joel came up to help launch or bless Simons church in 2001 he has not been back to the property and is not photographed with Simons. The Osteen family includes youngest daughter April and her children in family events but Gary is rarely embraced (publically). Matriarch Dodie, when attending women’s annual conferences with April at High Point does not even stay or eat in the Simons home, preferring to stay in a luxury hotel. And none of the other Osteen famly visits the High Point Campus or services.

    Dodie did attend the dedication in 2004 but her comments were brief and she appeared to not fully embrace what her son-in-law had built in DFW.

    Word continues to circulate by former associates, former insiders and former members the church could fall financially at any time.

    It wouldn’t surprpise many if Ole Anthony, the watchdog of the Evangelical movement nationwide may have one or more moles in Simons operation. And perhaps we’ll learn the truth behind its rise and future fall. However, for an insight into the Osteen dynasty in Houston the nut may not fall far from the tree with brother-in-law Gary Simons’ extravagant compensations and financial practices in Dallas Fort Worth Texas. Perhaps its time to investigate Simons as the black sheep of the Osteen dynasty too.

  2. Mike Stidham on said:

    What probably happened was that Lakewood Baptist Church (this was the 60′s, after all) was disfellowshipped by whatever local SB association it was in.
    There were a number of such actions on a regional level during the early days of the charismatic movement, especially in Baptist circles. Either the church was booted out of the association, or the pastor was fired and replaced with a more “sound” pastor.
    While Don is correct in that the Southern Baptist Convention per se does not “hire and fire” pastors on a denominational level, it by and large is not friendly to charismatic practice.
    The relationship of Baptists and charismatics is about as warm and friendly as the one between George W. Bush and Osama bin Ladin; with offenses on both sides of the coin. Baptists are frequently derided in charismatic churches as “they don’t believe in the Holy Spirit” or simply “spiritually dead”. Charismatics do not fare much better in Baptist descriptions; often they are characterized as “babblers”, “swinging from the chandeliers”, “snake handlers”, or at worst “demon possessed”. (And I’ve heard all these phrases first hand from pastors on both sides of the coin.) While the Baptists have been a tad more conciliatory since the height of the tongues movement in the 70′s, I don’t think you’re going to hear Albert Mohler or Adrian Rogers suggesting that tongues or healing should be a part of Baptist life anytime soon.
    Bottom line, while Charisma isn’t the only voice from the charismatic side that bashes Baptists, it’s probably the loudest.

  3. Rachel Connifer on said:

    There should be accountability for the money flow and those problems should be addressed. When a new church is being formed there are always people coming and going. Many people join a church with a large vision with their own agenda and when their agenda doesn’t unfold, they leave for greener pastures, which Gary and April did. When people and money get together, there are going to be tempers flaring and finger pointing. No one is perfect, but we should strive to be kind, forgiving and allow for mistakes along the way. However, from the comments I have read, no one is mentioning the people who are coming to know Jesus at High Point pastored by Gary Simons. If all this speculation about motives and poor money management produces one new believer in Jesus, then shouldn’t we be rejoicing in that? Jesus said He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Whatever problems exist at High Point or any church can be overcome by prayer and a belief in the One Who is mightier than us all. Can we fulfill our own responsibilities and leave other’s responsibilities to the Lord? We are to love people but trust God.

  4. Paul on said:

    The Great Commission vs. the sad omission.

    Rachel writes:

    “However, from the comments I have read, no one is mentioning the people who are coming to know Jesus at High Point pastored by Gary Simons. If all this speculation about motives and poor money management produces one new believer in Jesus, then shouldn’t we be rejoicing in that?”

    No.

    We are correct not to rejoice. God (from his word) is not pleased with any deceptive practices to be rationalized with the disclaimer ‘but people are being brought to Jesus.” Its against God’s nature, against all He is to approve of anything contrary to his nature. For God, “the means does not justify the ends.”

    And just what ‘jesus’ are these people coming to know? By some folks rationalization the Mormons, and the Jehovah’s Wittnesses are just fine because people are coming to know jesus. Again, which “jesus” are they coming to know?

    There is a difference between the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus Joseph Smith describes in the book of Mormon. The same applies to the prosperity philosophy (won’t call it theology) and the jesus who wants everyone rich, healthy, and in charge of their destiny. That’s a different Jesus to the one of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the books of the New and Old Testaments.

    By Rachel’s rationalization its ok to overlook sin (in any form) and not take a stand (in righteous discernment and judgement) holding a believer accountable for their actions? What about Matthew 7:1-8, Matthew 7:15-20, and Matthew 7:21-28? What part of God’s word do you not understandl?

    That’s just the tip of the theological iceberg. The questions you ask Rachel are all answered in the Bible. Don’t take your Pastor’s interpretation of it. Read it for yourself, in context of each chapter.

    Study theology, which contrary to Joel Osteen’s misunderstanding that “people don’t want theology, they just want to feel good,” (in his interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News). Theology is the study of God’s word. If people don’t want to study God’s word then the Pastor you wind up with is what you deserve. Did you catch Joel on Larry King Live this past week (June 25, 2005?). “Its not my place to say,” if Jesus is the only way to heaven. Several direct questions. Over 30 “I don’t knows” from Joel, and “its not for me to say.” Ignorance becuase of arrogance will not excuse anyone from the test in heaven.

    Yes, we are to love one another, and we are to discern anyone who says they are speaking God’s word, and hold them to the standard of God’s word, and Trust God’s word. In that way we can Trust God. But we abdicate the price Jesus paid on the cross for us if we abdicate our responsibilities God grants us to the great comission. Its not the great omission.

  5. Interesting post. I happen to live less then 5 minutes away from Highpoint Church, on the opposite corner of 360 and I-20. I would also ask my wife how much money they were spending each year to light those lights.

  6. Mark Reeder on said:

    Thanks for the info on Gary Simons. I know where the facility is since I used to pass by it every day going to school. I knew he was related to Joel but not the other stuff.

    If you can get a copy of the August issue of Texas Monthly Joel is the cover story. Joel mentions that he wants to consider satellite services around the USA as well.

    It could get REALLY INTERESTING if his first non-Houston area location is somewhere in the DFW Metroplex. That would essentially put Simons out of business.

    It could also create problems for Ed Young and Fellowship Church (where I attend). Ed’s trying to set up his own franchise operation up here (he’s got three locations, two rented and one owned) but I can tell you the growth is practically non-existent at the mother church and the crowds come to hear Ed. If Osteen comes in with his popularity, a large chunk of the fickle crowd is GONE. Ed may decide to head home to Houston and take over his dad’s operation at Second Baptist.

    Prestonwood Baptist could take a small hit but since it maintains strong ties to the SBC it comes through. TD Jakes also comes through OK (given his emphasis on the under-served African-American community) unless something goes wrong with his health, but there are at least two other smaller sized megachurches serving the A-A community to pick up the slack.

  7. Aneela Bashir on said:

    I’ve read all about the Lakewood Church.

    I think God has blessed Late Pastor John Osteen and his church. But I don’t understand why they kick off to Gary Simons, though he was very engergtic and spirit filled guy. I was surpise to know about the Pastor Joel. At first, we thought that Gary Simons is the son of Late Pastor John Osteen. He was very closed to him but how it was possible, after his death, none of his kids were good to Garys Simons?

    We Christians shouldn’t descriminate these things, we wouldn’t have to store our teasure in earth but have to store up in Heaven.

  8. Michael Corona on said:

    With all this negative talk about Gary Simons and High Point Church I think it’s time to hear from someone who used to be in leadership at High Point Church. Myself. For the past two years I’ve served in leadership in High Point’s College and Career Ministry. I have heard many rumors about Pastor Gary’s transition from Lakewood to Arlington and that is just my point. They are all just rumors. No hard cold facts. As a member of High Point I count it an honor and a privilege to serve under Pastor Gary. His leadership abilities are abundant and he truly walks in an awesome anointing. Pastor Gary keeps all of us in the loop. He is constantly keeping his congregation up to date with where our tithes and offerings are being directed. We see an amazing number coming to know the lord on a weekly basis. God has amazingly impacted the City of Arlington and the surrounding cities through High Point church and the leadership of Pastor Gary. I am a true believer that everyone has a time and season. Pastor Gary’s season was up at Lakewood. God desires to move in our nation and plucked Pastor Gary out to help start revival in the metroplex. He is also building up leaders to do the same. He wants pastor, teacher, evangelists, etc… to be launched out into the nation. I have personally witnessed God do amazing things through Pastor Gary and April Simons. Until some of you guys have hard facts, stop gossiping and spreading rumors. Why don’t you come out to one of our services? Sundays @ 9 and 11. By the way it was really nice to see Pastor Joel Osteen and His family. He came to our 11 o’clock service when hurricane Rita swept the Texas Gulf Coast. He introduced his entire family to our church. -Michael

  9. KAY on said:

    Faithful followers:
    Don’t be alarmed, this is not unusual practice when one becomes, or looks
    successful. Anytime you are doing anything for God you will find critics,
    gossips, and those disgruntled talkers who “think” they are in the know. No
    one knows the Osteen family but the Osteen family and this is merely gossip. As far as the people who left, they are not a good representation of the pastor’s vision, truth, strife never is nor is gossip. When you react to anything, you are only drawing more to you.When you talk negative you believe negative and you produce
    negativity, that is the law of attraction/Seedtime and Harvest. It is not up to us to spread half truths, gossip or to judge thjose that God has placed in the ministry. If you looked on the web, you would find much has been said about other successful ministers
    – Binny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and believe it or not, the religious world
    came out strongly against Jesus. Please stop the gossip.

  10. M Dunham on said:

    I do not know much about High Point and all the things that have been said in this post. I do not know how much is true and how much is just gossip. I just don’t know. God does and He will judge at the right time.
    But Kay and Michael and Rachel’s posts pissed me off. Are we, Christians, supposed to measure the true Christianity and knowing God by numbers and some vague “awesome anointing” that nobody really knows what it is?!!! I would call it “charisma” instead. I have checked out High Point services twice, I can tell you that much for sure – Gary Simons has it.

    Yes, a lot has been said about ministires of such as Copeland, Hinn, Osteen and others but it’s not because they are succesful. It’s because they do not preach God’s Word. But how would most “Christians” in this country know that if they do not read the Bible. They rely on what their pastor tells them about the Bible!!! And it’s a shame. God’s Word tells us to discern, but how can we discern if we don’t have the measuring stick (God’s Word) in our hearts?!!!

  11. mockspeed3 on said:

    i have attended worship services at Lakewood in Houstonbefore John Oseens death and also
    after Joel became pastor at Lakewood. I have also had the privilege to attend services at High Point church in Arlington on numerous occassions. I believe the the spirit of God is on both Joel and Gary’s ministry. To see the number of people accept JEsus as Lord of thier life and go from unchurched people to people whose lives are changed 7 days a week
    as they follow the teaching of Christ convinces me that the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is being taught by these two pastors. I just praise the Lord for the work these men are doing for the kingdom of God and encourage you to pray for them and support thier ministries. God will bless you.
    Pray that God will continue to keep them humble and seek His face. They are not exempt from temptation. So Pray that God will keep them strong and focused on the task of bringing people to the Lord.

  12. Johnny Dingus on said:

    I recieved Christ on Dec 19, 2004 as well as been baptisted in water and been filled with the Holy Spirit all at High Point Church, I love and support my Pastor and prey for him every day. I will also be attending Christ For The Nations Institute, a Bible School in south Dallas. I can tell a million other wonderful things that has happened in my life this past year, but I believe The Lord has me at High Point Church, and I am in full support of the Church’s vision, staff, and most of all Pastor Gary and April Simons. so like brother Michael has stated ealier the accusations are just that, you have no cold hard facts, i personally believe this is the work of the devil, as the original topic was “Did the SBC boot Osteen”
    May the Lord bless each and every one of you.

  13. P Whitley on said:

    I am from Atlanta and so, do not know anything about the local politics around the Osteen and Simons’ churches. However, the title of the topic “Did the SBC boot Osteen” caught my attention when I searched for John Osteen on Google.

    I’ve never seen Joel Osteen preach and never heard of Simons. My aunt in NC who is 78 and a rock of faith, a studious Bible-student and an analytical cardic nurse before she retired 8 years ago – likes him. She has always been a staunch Southern Baptist. Knowing her, she has yet to pick up any indiscretions in his teachings from her own wealth of Biblical study or else she would never have suggested I find him on cable to listen to him. Evidently, what he says aligns to her own beliefs and experiences applying God’s Word to her and her family and patients’ lives.

    Searching for John Osteen on Google was prompted by my reading his booklet, “Rivers of Living Water” — a reading that had uplifted me very much. It and another Osteen booklet, “Pulling Down Strongholds” was given to me by my 70 year old friend who is one of the most godly women I’ve ever met. Over the summer, Dot sent me the two Osteen books to read and study. They have only encouraged in me a closer walk with God.

    While I cannot begin to consider the alleged intrique behind the Osteen’s, I am be happy that without being exposed to all of that hearsay, what I have read by John Osteen blessed me and has produced good fruit.

    I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on July 20, 1984. Being raised Southern Baptist in a little country church in NC, I was part of a family of public school teachers and as a literary family, the Bible was one of the books we literally studied. “Study to show thyself approved” was a motto applied to both our school textbooks and to the Bible. Always hungry to know more, even then, I began searching in my late 20′s for more of God and of course, delved into the Scriptures. Reading Acts one night, I read again where Peter went to Cornelius and that “those that were with him were astonished that the same gift that was poured out on the Jews was poured out on the Gentiles”. When I read that verse, a spontaneous pray started in me and it was verbatim: “Father, if You are as real today as you were then, would You please let happen to me what happened to Cornelius?” Well, nothing happened — that night. But 6 months later, I attended a Women’s Aglow meeting with a friend from work who had accepted Jesus about a year earlier and whose life had miraculously changed. Here she was a new Christain and I had been raised in a church home and saved at 9 and she had much more faith and excitement and joy than I did. I wanted what she had so went with her when she invited me to go.

    That morning, When Lou and I arrived at the meeting, they were singing praise songs and I began to cry — it was foolish to me that I would be crying. I didn’t want to cry — wasn’t choosing to cry — and it was almost like my eyes were functioning apart from me — I wanted to sing and was aggravated that their singing and the sweet spirit that accompanied it should have moved me so.

    During the speaking portion of the meeting, we had an enjoyable speaker whom we all laughed with and at the end when the meeting ajourned, the president of Aglow that year bounced up to the microphone as everyone was milling out and said, “If anyone would like to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, come to the front.” Well, I dashed off to the bathroom. Baptists didn’t believe in this experience — and though I’d never heard it called “baptism in the Holy Spirit”, I knew this was what I’d prayed for when I read about Cornelius. My bathroom battle though was with doctrne — I knew my dad and home church — my aforementioned aunt and my mom — would not approve of me even being at this service. They would think this “charismatic movement” was a cult. Besides, the gifts weren’t for today and Dad and I had confirmed we’d received all of the Holy Spirit we were going to get when we accepted Christ as our Savior and what Cornelius got was, well, back then in those times…

    So, I stayed in that bathroom stall for a good 10 mins. weighing what I suspected the costs would be to me if I went back in to talk with that woman. I was so hungry and I believed this “baptism of the Holy Spirit” was what had happened to Cornelius so – I went back. After the president reviewed Scriptures with me — all I already knew — we prayed. My friend Lou, the president and one other woman and myself. The president prayed in a beautiful and gentle language. I’d never heard “tongues” before and was captivated — but nothing happened for me and my chin came to rest on my chest as I was sad and disappointed her prayers were not being answered.

    Suddenly, it was as though a hand slipped under my chin and my head began to tilt slowly up toward the ceiling and I didn’t resist but followed the flow. It was very gentle. When my head was fully tilted up, in the position I now use when I lift my children’s face’s to kiss their foreheads, my eyes opened and I saw the most beautiful smile in the ceiling surrounded by a yellow “warmth” that reminded me of melting butter– that sounds weird, I know, yet I did see a delighted and wonderful grin and tears began to flow down my face at that moment and something else happened, too. Energy or something began “popping” on the back of my tongue like fizz candy — the sensation was real. I opened my mouth and out poured the most beautiful and prolific language. It was gorgeous! The 3 women praying with me and I all praised God and cried and laughed. It was stunning.

    When I got home, I bowed on my knees at my sofa and alone, I opened my mouth and out poured this beautiful and fluet language, again. Now, I became scared and thought surely I was possessed by a demon. My friend, whom I phoned immediately, reassured me I was not and prayed with me. But my truly wonderful upbringing in my church and with my family had not prepared me for this experience so its no wonder I didn’t know what to do with it.

    I have prayed in tongues always since — many moments of the day and have had many precious and strange experiences. And, I am terrified of the power and reality of our Lord — what is man that He should have considered us. It is almost too much to bear sometimes. What can we say about His sacrifice and Love toward us?

    My husband and I invited the pastor and his wife of our Southern Baptist chruch to our home for dinner. After the meal, I told what had happened. He listened, told me why the experience wasn’t valid and then asked that I attend another church as my experience might confuse the congregation he pastored. I was taken aback and agreed not to return. Since my experience sounded like some of what Osteen described in “Rivers of Living Water”, that’s why I wanted to learn more about him.

    See, I’m glad I don’t know about all the “stuff” around the Osteen’s. I can just delight in the funny and relevant ways John Osteen’s books have spoken to me — affirming my own experiences and making me feel like I was truly reading from a brother in Christ. For that ministry of his, I am grateful. And for the other things I’ve read on this site — I’ll pray about. May you be in good health and prosper, even as your soul prospers… – Patricia

  14. Benjamin Reeder on said:

    I find it funny that some on here are trying to find every character flaw and crack in Gary Simons Life yet you can’t see your own. I attended High Point Church for 3 years and while I am no longer a member there I can say with all my heart the it was an ethical, loving and blessed operation. Was it perfect?? Of course not. Yet God still blessed the work.

    Paul and Dr. Hugo why are you guys slandering a man you have never met?? Why are you bearing false witness against your neighbor?? Why is it that everytime a spirit filled ministry is successful do people come out of the woodwork to try and discredit it?? And while I am certainly no fan of Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland you make a blanket statement that they dont preach God’s Word. I just can’t agree with that.

    They definantly make mistakes and have wrong points of view but so do all of us.
    Just because some people in the SBC are blind and stubborn to the reality of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament does that mean the SBC dosent preach God’s Word?? Certainly not!!No one has a complete picture of the word except God himself.

    Gary Simons is a good man and a Good Leader. He followed God and has run a very good ethical ministry and God has blessed High Point Church abundantly. Every Sunday he preaches the Cross , the Blood , righteousness, and Faith in the impossible. If thats not Word-Centered then I dont know what is.

  15. My husband & I have been attending High Point since June 2005 & are in the process of becoming members. We have been to several churches throughout Ft Worth, & Pastor Gary & April are far more the God fearing people that they claim to be. Not once have I ever heard them claim how perfect they are & that they don’t ever make mistakes. Those of you who are quick to judge need be leery. Does’nt it say something in the bible about doing just that(judging)? Are you perfect? I think not. Pastor Gary & his wife are awesome pastors & they truly love the church & its people & it shows. I have been in more than one service when the Holy Spirit took over Pastor & he went with it. It was totally cool & you could not only feel the Lords presence but one could almost claim they saw him. So before you pass any kind of judgement on them, you might need to go see for yourself. As for the ones who left, that is your perrogitive, but you should’nt be saying mean things about the head of a church, should you? After all they are Gods chosen to do His work as you are chosen. I hope God continues to Bless Pastors Gary & April, they have trully been a blessing for us. Have a blessed day.
    Jackie

  16. I have attended High Point in Arlington TX for about 4 years now. I LOVE Pastors Gary and April.They are spirit filled. Of course there is something wrong in every church.We are human.They are family conscious and I believe very sincere to all of us.Down to earth and just like “us”,led by the spirit at each service. Gary and April just keep getting better and better.
    My only complaint is I can’t get personal time with them because it is such a big church.I would like to pray with just them some time.

  17. Manuel on said:

    I used to go to HighPoint Church. I liked it at first, but stopped attending several months ago after reading the Bible on my own. Its hard not to think that Gary Simmons “vision” is a very costly one. I encourage people to go for themselves and here that he constantly talks about tithing and how we must be obedient and give and the next time we go to bring a friend. Of all the scriptures in the Bible, the one on tithing seems to be his favorite. The speech about how he and his family left everything they had behind in Houston got old after hearing it for the 50th time and also the story of his “boy in a bubble” sickness. I guess thats so the new visitors can say “ahhh this man is truly God sent”. The lights,cameras, sound, etc seem more like a Hollywood studio than a church. I was there when the money was collected to pay off the facility and stupidly gave. I realize now that I sat through almost 2 hours of hearing Gary pick at peoples brains to get them to give and give and give. No cash no problem you can write a check no check no problem you can use a debit or credit card. One Sunday Gary nor his wife were present the next Sunday they were on stage under the spotlight talking about how they had a restful vacation just the two of them and I thought WHAT??? I probably paid for their suite in Hawaii!! Anybody can make you feel good with music, nice facilities, and tell you good things or things that make you feel guilty and thats what its all about at HighPoint.

  18. Mike on said:

    Men of God are simply Men seeking God’s direction for their lives, ministries etc…
    They are nothing more than men that have been highly avoured of the Lord. Men have faults like women do and Men of God have faults like everyone else. God is not looking for anyone perfect person, becuase He knows that the only one who is perfect is Him and through Christ we are made perfect. So if it is true what this artical says about Pastor Gary Simons thats fine, but remember who are you to Judge and what are your faults. Only God can ultimately forgive, but can you?

  19. Manuel on said:

    Mike, I forgive him and my fault was falling for a false pastor. I just wont ever go back I dont make enough money.

  20. Richard on said:

    I used to have the same skeptisms about Lakewood… I too used to say there is no need for a church of this magnatude.

    All of your gossips and complaints of Joel Osteen – I said them once.

    Until someone challenged me to visit Lakewood.

    I’ve been raised in churches all my life – visited many – and never have I felt so God’s spirit and the annointing so powerful as being in Lakewood.

    I a Baptist had shivers during worship, a tear of joy came out of me during Joel’s sermon.

    And you know what at the end of it all as I walked out with my wife, I told her to forgive me for telling her those things – then I asked God for forgivness.

    Never will I say those things again.

    I’ve visited Lakewood about 4 times since and still Thank God everytime for a place like that.

    Thousands, 20,000 to be exact of every race, color, income level there to worship our God.

    During each call for Salvation – thousands are giving thier life to God.

    If you also say that Joel doesn’t preach about “SIN” – your right he doesn’t. But he has other ministers in his church and ministries that DO THAT.

    It’s not ONE MAN that built that church – it’s the people and thier love for GOD.

    How Great is Our God.

  21. Aida on said:

    I have attended High Point Church for 4 years and a half! I have seen us grow from Workman to the former Johnson and Johnson facility. How the department of defense had the contract but God showed us favor and let us cross into our promise land. I remember My husband and I were about to get a divorce and The Holy Sprit prompted us to give church a chance for our son and our family. Pastor Gary and April personally agreed with me and prayed for our marriage. As a result today our Marraige is healed and striving, we lead a “Touchpoint” (small group) and we see miracles everyday. If Pastor Gary and April would have not been obiedient to God’s prompting on coming to the D/FW metroplex area My marriage no doubt would be in ruins right now and we would be living a life destined to Hell. Through Pastor Gary and April’s teaching of becoming an Inner Court Christian I learned that we need not criticize and speculate the chosen man of God. Also was it not Eli who brought up Samuel? He was one of the most humble and obiedient prophets in the Bible! Its hard to kick against the goads. I know for certain that Pastor Gary and April both encourage us to read our Bibles and develop our relashionship with Jesus through the study and meditation on His Word in intimate and quite times. They also encourage to bring our bibles and notebooks every Sunday. Also as far as tithing, We learned about tithing at High Point also and it has been nothing but a blessing to be obiedient to God’s Word and how He has opened the windows of heaven! Our family that before we met Jesus scrounged for every penny, Me I come from a family that lived hand to mouth all my life, and through obiedence and trust in God has changed all of that. Does this mean we never have problems, no but it does mean that we know Jehova Jireh, the God that Provides! I know for certain that God has called us to this church and this vision. I have seen many people leave High Point but at the same time I have seen many people come back and repent for ever judging or questioning Pastor Gary and April’s motives. The bait of Satan is geting Christians offended with other Christians to sprout a root of bitterness amongust the Brethren, Don’t be blind to what the ememy is doing. If you had a “bad expierence” at LakeWood, High Point the SBC or any other church before you up and leave think about this…Who brought you to that church? If it was God than he would not let you leave the church offended and bitter, He would release you in Peace and you would be released to your destiny with peace in your heart. So before you leave any church think about first your motives..are you going to chruch to get blessed or do you want to be a blessing? The church is not Burger King you don’t get to have it your way. There is order and rules just like anywhere else I praise God that I am under a Pastor that is not afraid of a few people disagreeing with him and packing thier bags and leaving, His message is uncompromised and consistent, and more importantly God sent! I praise God For such an awesome and Fearless leader! As far as him being the “Black Sheep” of the Osteen Family, aren’t we all Black Sheep of the Heaven family? He who hasn’t sinned or felt short of His glory cast he the first stone..It is by His grace His Blood His never ending Mercy and Love for us that saved us to begin with. Who are we to say let me get the speck out of your eye when we have a log in our own! Give me a break guys! Why would we even waste our time with this bibble babble he said she said stuff. Lets Get out there and do something that will impact our surroundings, pray for the sick and feed the hungry and clothe the poor in the name of Him who saved us Jesus! Which by the way is our current outreach. Its not the mere man the stands behind the pulpit, its not the Building thats the church its us! We are the body…lets not rip our limbs out lets learn to love like Jesus loved!
    Love covers a multitude of sins!
    Committed until He Returns,
    Aida M.

  22. Cody on said:

    I guess I am kind of echoing a lot of other people, but I have been a member at Lakewood for a little over 10 years now. Pastor Gary was my youth pastor back when I was young. He trained me up in the things of God and taught me to stand for God in my school, in my family, and everywhere I go. He taught me that I was a soldier in the army of God. He taught me how to put on the whole armor of God and not be “ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation”.

    Because of Pastor Gary’s message, I stood for God in my high school and won several of my friends to Jesus, and they are still serving God today.

    I have been part of several youth ministries. Many of them focused on sports, being cool, going on fun trips, and “just keeping kids off of the streets”. Pastor Gary taught us the Word of God. He taught us to be excited about Jesus.

    Now, 6 years later, I am an adult and I am still standing for Jesus, just like Pastor Gary taught me to.

    I know that they don’t only talk about tithing, but about a lot of other things as well. Since we as humans do not like giving our money (which is commanded in the Bible), we notice more when preachers talk about tithing. A preacher can mention love 500 times and we don’t notice that he talks about love too much. But a preacher can mention tithing 10 times and we say “that preacher talks about tithing too much”.

    High Point Church is a great ministry and I support it.

  23. My synopsis is this.. joel is living off the backs of the folk who come in and out of his mega complex. hes a multi-millionaire.. what does he care. if you haven’t read clarence larken, ever opened a strongs concordance, know what a berean is, or even care about issues like dispensationalism, or pre milliniumism, post millinium, .. dont even bother debating me. god isnt the one blessing the osteen empire.. Jesus never rewarded his deciples with mirth.. instead most of his true deciples were killed in various terrible ways. only when we come to know that satan is in charge of this world and god will return for the second advent, decending upon the mount of olives after armogeddon to judge the living and dead from the book of life, and we all need to get our ducks in line for this.. will we know what god has in store.. his future for this planet is pretty bleak my friends.. nothing to do with joels vision and his bank accounts. ONLY GOD will judge us.. ONLY GOD will uphold us during the tribulation. No man will be there between you and god to give account, it will be YOU and GOD. THINK SHEEP!

  24. ken durham on said:

    I loved John osteen and his style and Biblical knowledge. I understood, also, that the SBC had “kicked” him out but maybe i was mistaken. I also have been told that they may have not cared for him due to his being divorced but I am not sure of that, either. All I know is that God most surely blessed his ministry and his family.

  25. Tony on said:

    HighPoint Church = Modern day Jonestown!
    Will never go there again and not recommend it to anyone. Is God really that broke that he needs your money? How much money did the disciples collect for the gospel to be spread?

  26. Michael (different one) on said:

    Hi there. I have known Gary Simons since, let me think, 1980. I have nothing but good to say of him and I feel I know him well. I am glad God has blessed him in finding April and I pray for the success of his ministry. God Bless You Gary, I think of you as a 100% champion A-number-1 and honest fellow. I was around Pastor Gary plenty and all I can say is that I wish all the people I have dealt with since knowing him, I wish they had a tenth of the directness, honesty, work ethic, and good heart he has. When I knew Gary it was a happy and prosperous time in my life and he had a lot to do with this. I speak truth. It is from my own experience and opinion, but I think the world of him. God Bless, people, God Bless! In Faith, Appreciation, and Love, Michael in Savannah, Georgia, who is blessed every day by the one true Lord.

  27. Fran Hart on said:

    After reading these comments, I think it’s important to distinguish between Joel Osteen and Gary Simons. They are not the same man; they do not have the same ministry. Some of the commentators seem to have run them together. I think it would be a shame to cast doubt on Osteen’s credibility based on the apparently (and I say apparently because I have no inside knowledge) questionable activities of Simons. The Lord knows I would never want to be judged based on the behavior of even some of my closest family members.
    I do agree with Michael (#23) in that the final accounting will only be between the individual and God, but Michael, please, David took the time to rejoice in God, even dancing and singing unto Him, and he didn’t even have the added security of ultimate salvation through Jesus. It’s a good thing to be blessed in life..spiritually, emotionally, and, yes, even financially. Jesus used a lot of financial examples in his teachings, i.e. the parable of the talents, the woman and her silver coins (Luke 15:8), money for a good purpose (Matthew 17:27), and etc. The key of course being that money is not in and of itself a root of evil, but, rather, that the love of it is. Ultimately, God wants us to LOVE HIM and, by extension, one another (Romans 13:8). He wants us to lead constructive, positive lives. He wants us to have healthy, happy families. Why would the apostle Paul take the trouble to instruct husbands, wives, and children how to honor and, so, get along with each other, if it were otherwise?
    Yes, the devil is ever on the prowl, but he’s in spiritual chains, and his realm is enclosed by gates. The Bible assures us that satan’s gates shall not prevail against the goodness of God or the good acts of His people. Romans 12:21 says “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Life is not about dwelling on evil, but rather, it is about seeking God and conforming to His will despite evil. The Bible teaches that being as wise as a serpent (an ability to discern evil, I think, and understanding how to put on the armour of God to deal with it in a myriad of ways), and simoultaneously as innocent as a lamb ( believing that God’s armour is indeed protecting you and so being able to feel and behave like a free and joyful godly person, even in the presence of evil), is a reachable state of being. I think for me, a big part of Joel Osteen’s appeal is that he genuinely seems to have captured this state of being, and I’d like to learn how to have it, too.
    P.S. Thank you, Patricia (#13), for your comments. My husband and I have been talking about this subject recently, and I appreciated what you had to say…l’ve always thought tongues were fine (1 Corinthians 14), but never really ran into a church where someone kept silent if there wasn’t an interpreter…so over the years have been more attracted by non-denominational or even Baptist churches…lots to think and pray about.

  28. Ian Williams on said:

    As an ‘impartial’ outsider (New Zealander) and survivor of the WOF deception, I am astounded at the ‘success’ of Joel Osteen, et al. His homespun homilies, specious and syrupy sophistry, and salesmanship may resonate with his followers but there is something in the calculating coldness that is evdenced in his eyes when his carefully crafted guise of his goodness slips just a little, which says to beware. Never forget that ‘good’ is just the lesser of two evils.

    I am automatically suspicious of any church leader who suports the war on terror/neocon agenda and the subjugation/annihilation of Iraq. To me that is a litmus test of their integrity, veracity and genuiness as followers of Jesus Christ, who told us to love our enemies.

    While you argue doctrine and quote scripture, your nation and people are being high-jacked by antichrist spirits who know that if they can elicit a vow, then you will be bound by your word. I earnestly council anyone who has ears to hear – take a step back from the brink and think – let Jesus open your eyes to what is going on in the world and why it is that the majority of the world hate what the majority of Americans stand for.

    We are not to be of this world, nor to crave what it offers – the dominionists are deceived through their own desires and the end of this is death.

  29. Eric on said:

    I have just a few things to say about all of this. I have been under the ministry at Lakewood Church long enough to have learned a few principles about living a successful life through the WORD. The word is true and by following it day by day it will never let you down,Even when you go through the dry times when it seems like nothing is happening. If you don’t faint GOD’s word will come through for you. I think all the gossip I have read here is as a result of people not receiving the promise quick enough for their liking. I know the Osteen’s are people of integrity as is Gary Simons. They teach the WORD of GOD. Some people get resentful of others who have learned how to use the keys to the kingdom to unlock heaven. It is available to all of you skeptics also. You just have to put in the time and don’t give up! Some people are offended by the tithe. If a pastor does not teach the congregation this important principle he is robbing them of the blessing that is promised. GOD does not need our money but the Church needs it to further HIS Kingdom. It is up to us Humans to make it happen on this earth and it won’t get done without the Tithe.

  30. Lupe on said:

    I will guesstimate the year was 1995, the Monday following Mother’s day. I was sitting in at my cubicle at work and a demon was expelled from my body. I felt a literal tearing awaying from my upper body; I felt like I was going to pass out and became alarmed and I thought to myself that I should call out for help. But it happened quickly. Everything went black as this tearing away (with a force, a pressure)
    from my body took place, then everything was back to normal. That year Pastor John Osteen had declared it to be year that demons would be casted out of people at Lakewood Church. And either just prior to or around the same time, Gary Simons had done a series of teaching on the “Blood of Jesus”. It was an awesome teaching that blessed me beyond any measure. That demon was cast out of me because Pastor John declared that over us and because of the Word of God. I’m forever grateful that Gary Simons’ teachng brought that revelation so alive that I didn’t need people all around me laying hands, shouting, and demanding the demon out of me. If the teachings were left up to the indivual giving the teachings at Lakewood Church, my shout of thanks to Gary Simons for picking that subject. Surely its a subject that pleases God Almighty. I come out of a Catholic background. I wonder where the Baptists stand on the subject of demons in today’s high tech world?
    Lupe

  31. M. Hall on said:

    Time for an update on the subject. Time to re-check your facts and possibly eat your words.
    This weekend is the 1st Annual Women by God’s Design Conference at High Point Church where thousands of women have come from around the DFW Metroplex, state, and country to hear April Simons, Dodie Osteen, and April’s sisters Tamara and Lisa speak the Word of God.
    And guess who is coming to April Simon’s next Chik Nite at High Point? “Major name Charismatic celebrity” Joyce Meyer. Oh, and the date is already set for the 2nd Annual WbGD Conference and Pastor Gary announced that his beloved brother-in-law Joel will be a guest speaker at the 2008 event.

  32. We have been members of High Point since 2002. We are not on staff. Since that time, we have both received jobs in our fields after we were laid off at the same time. After receiving prayer during a service, we both had positions by the end of the week. Our 9-year-old son was completely healed of a blood disease (ITP) after the High Point youth prayed for him. We have received good raises and promotions. We have seen many people saved and filled with the Holy Spirit at High Point. We faithfully tithe because we know our money is being used to win souls. We have been blessed with good jobs, health, a strong marriage, all of our needs met, all while attending High Point Church. While High Point Church may not be perfect, no church is. But we see staff members in various ministries come and go inside and outside of High Point. We don’t question how God is strategically placing his leaders in these last days. But we know that we are to pray for our leaders, and we daily pray for Pastor Gary & April Simons.

  33. Laura on said:

    I have been a member of Highpoint Church for the past 6 years. Is it perfect? No, it is not. Have I been disappointed before at Highpoint? Yes, especially with the departure of worship leader Sion Alford. Have decision been made that have been financially costly? Most likely. Is Pastor Gary a true man of God? Absolutely!!!!

  34. Laura on said:

    I have visited many Churches in my quest to find the perfect Church, and Highpoint is the closest I have found. They are never too busy to pray for your need, and there is always an alter call. Not only an alter call, but Pastor insist that everyone stay in their seat to honor the holy spirit as it speaks to those who need salvation. I have been at other Churches where there was either no alter call, or where the members practically ran over those trying to get to the alter on their way out the door! No man is perfect. However , Pastor Gary’s heart is true. April is the most caring and sincere person, and I have no doubt she will be a powerful force for God in her own right. She is awesome.