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Responding to criticism in his first sermon since the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Joel Osteen told his followers, “You know y’all love me”.

Osteen began his sermon by saying, “There’s been so much misinformation about the church this week, I wanted to clarify some things.”

It should be worth noting that an estimated 1,200 members showed up for the service. Lakewood Church usually boasts crowd sizes of greater than 15,000 per Sunday.

Osteen then urged the crowd to take to social media to defend him and the church.

Why was there a controversy to begin with?

According to KRTK-13, on Sunday, Aug. 27, Lakewood associate pastor John Gray explained, on Facebook and Instagram, that “flooded highways had made the church inaccessible.” The next day videos and photos flooded social media which showed the church’s entrance and parking lot without any sign of flooding, calling Lakewood Church out on their dishonesty. Those posts by John Gray have since been deleted.

It should be noted that Mattress Mack opened up one of his Gallery Furniture locations just across the way from Lakewood Church, a location which has been open since day one.

Then, the very next day Osteen issued a statement saying, “We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need.” Almost immediately a new video went viral showing that the church’s doors were indeed closed and locked and there was nobody available to help evacuees at the church.

Finally on Wednesday, bowing to social media pressure, the church opened its doors to evacuees.

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However, Osteen’s story changed yet again in an interview with NBC News when he said, “We were just being precautious, but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then.”

Most Houstonians and Texans would have accepted the fact that the church was designated to be a distribution center, or anything for that matter. Lakewood Church’s publicity problems were brought about by themselves because their ever changing narrative caused people to question their honesty and intentions.

Of course, God is the ultimate judge, and only HE knows their hearts. Hopefully we have all learned a lesson about keeping our stories straight in the face of questions.

In the end, Osteen did open the doors of his church and many lives are better for it. Thank you Pastor Osteen and all at Lakewood Church for helping when needed.

Osteen’s full response is here:

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