Charismatic televangelist and bestselling author Joyce Meyer on Thursday opened up about the death of her younger brother David as part of a message on the life of self-pity versus the life of diligence and faith.
Meyer said she learned about her brother's death after Los Angeles authorities called her in December, about a week after Christmas, to inform her that they found him dead in an abandoned building in the city. He had been dead 30 days and his body was so badly decomposed that authorities needed his dental records to identify him, she said.
A few days ago, she received his cremated ashes and a few personal effects that included a pocket knife, empty wallet, key chain and broken watch. She imagined that he must have been filled with regret during the last days of his life for not making the right choices.
"My personal effects and his personal effects are sadly different. What are your personal effects going to be when your time here is up?" she asked attendants at the C3 Conference at Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, a gathering designed to inspire church and ministry leaders to bring their church to the next level.
During her address, Meyer compared her life with that of her brother's to illustrate the point that it's up to the person's determination to follow God's plan, not his circumstances, that allow him to reap God's promises.
"How one life turns out is not dependent on what people do to us or what they don't do for us," said Meyer. "There is no man on earth or devil in hell who can keep you from the very best God put in you."
Using John 5 as her main text, Meyer preached on the story of the paralytic man who laid by the pool for 38 years waiting to be healed. Jesus asked the man, "Do you really want to get well?" To which the man didn't respond with "yes," but with self-pity. The paralytic man complained that no one helped him into the pool and that someone would always beat him to the pool when the angel stirred the water.
She related the story to her own life and that of her brother's.
For many years, Meyer had suffered from sexual abuse from her father, which led to her to become controlling, manipulative and rebellious. She was saved at the age of 9 but lapsed in her faith. It wasn't until she was much older that she heard the voice and calling of God to preach. Today, she is a world-renowned preacher, with millions of books sold and TV programs that air to two-thirds of the world, by her count.
Meanwhile, her brother David joined the Marine Corp and started taking drugs and prescription medicine. He married young and had a baby. He left his wife and refused to pay child support. Meyer said she tried several times to help her brother but he kept running away. During one point in his life, he received employment under Joyce Meyer and worked there for a few years until he was asked to pay $60,000 in unpaid child support. He quit the job and went through a string of girlfriends and drug habits. Another time, she helped him receive drug rehabilitation at the Dream Center in Los Angeles, but after a few months into the program, he said it wasn't for him.
The evangelist said that both she and her brother came from the same bloodline, same family, in some aspects, both went through their own struggles. However, while she eventually took responsibility for her behavior, her brother always ran away from his.
Even though the crippled man in the gospel story couldn't move much, but during the 38 years, he could at least wiggle to the edge of the pool, she pointed out.
"He (David) just wanted to lay by the pool another year, feel sorry for himself, blame somebody and remain crippled," said Meyer. "I got tired of laying by the pool and I decided to wiggle."
Meyer said she wasn't bringing up the story of her brother to bring disrespect, but she believed he would have wanted her to speak about him to teach others "a lesson."
She said there was a time she and her husband considered paying off his overdue child support, but she wanted her brother to show his commitment to working and not quitting the job.
"I think sometimes God has a miracle for people but he sees if they're going to wiggle first," she said. "Next time you're having a pity party and want to give up, I hope the Holy Ghost whispers in your ear, wiggle!"
In her message, Meyer also said she was inspired by Bill Hybels' story in his latest book, The Power of a Whisper. Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, shares in the book that he prayed all night one day in search of answers to some of the challenges facing the church. He told God that he would pray until he could receive an answer from God. As dawn approached, he heard a whisper from God telling him to simply get up, get dressed, and go to work.
God operates on the seed principle of faith, Meyer pointed out. No matter how pathetic the attempt is, if we try our best then God will bless us, she said.
"If all you can do is get up and go to work, and do what you can do then God will do what you can't do."
Earlier in the day, Elevation Church's Steven Furtick and Hillsong Church's Brian Houston also spoke at the 2011 C3 Dallas/Fort Worth Conference.
Bishop T. D. Jakes of the Potter's House is expected to teach during a day session Friday, the concluding day of the conference. Houston and Judah Smith of Seattle-based The City Church will speak Friday at C3 Night held at Fellowship Church, which is open to both conference participants and the public.