Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Joel Osteen once again misses an opportunity...

Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria was recently on the Sean Hannity program on Fox News.  He was there to plug his new book "The Christmas Spirit".  I have not yet read the book, but I have read some of Joel's earlier works and so I'm sure this is no departure from the norm.

Now he talks about Christmases in his past.  Experiences growing up.  His mother, who survived a terminal illness 30 years ago.  All of those things, I really have no comment on because they are more or less harmless comments. 

Then as the interview progresses, Joel says that what caused his father (John Osteen) to see their family become wealthy was because of faith in God + a determined spirit.  Two major problems with that.  One, where oh where does Scripture tell us that God wants us to be rich?  Two, a determined spirit?  Does that need comment?  Where does the Bible ever talk about me having a determined spirit?  Paul said, I determined to know nothing but Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).  In Matthew 6:33 Jesus said to seek first GOD and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!  That's just two examples, but it seems less and less to me that the focus of our spirit if their is to be on Christ.  Glorifying His name.  Submitting to Him.  Nowhere is there a blanket promise that if I do that I will be wealthy or any other worldly comfort.

What then do we do with verses like Hebrews 11:37-38?  Hebrews 11:37-38 - They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

This referring to those great ones of the faith who have gone on before us.  Certainly if anyone had a strong faith in the Lord it must have been them since they are included in Scripture!  Yet was their reward anything Earthly?  Absolutely not!  

Sean then asks them about those who are suffering and enduring heartache this time of year because of how difficult it can be for many people for a myriad of reasons...

Now, this may be my opinion alone... but I'll toss it out there anyway.  It really seemed to be that their reaction was a bit delayed.  As if the idea that there are those out there who suffer suddenly dawned on them and prior to they hadn't considered it... no backing for that assertion, and perhaps I shouldn't make it, but I'm just tossing that out there...

But notice how quickly Victoria goes back to promoting the book and away from truly addressing the topic of suffering.  In the prosperity movement, all suffering comes from a lack of faith or an unconfessed sin.  Neither of which can be backed Scripturally I might add...

She then says, referring to the theme of the book and the goal of the book which is to give stories about the true "Spirit of Christmas", that "...it's the memories that you make, it's not always the gifts you buy or... it's the memories that you make and people who are lonely alot of times people say 'Well what do you do?' or sometimes if you go out and help someone else, that's one of the greatest things you can do for yourself" (emphasis mine).

Well, the fact that her statement doesn't even qualify as a coherent comment... people who are lonely are apparently asking her.. 'What do I do?' and her best advice on worldwide television is to respond, go out and do something for yourself, BECAUSE it is one of the greatest things you can do... for who?  for others... oh no... FOR YOURSELF!  

Motive revealed... me me me... self self self...  Sean Hannity then goes on to boast in his own selflessness and giving nature which is expected... But the issue is with the responses from a so called Christian and a so called Pastor at that!

Now, the real kicker.  Sean sets Joel up to give the Gospel.  "But there's a lot of people who really believe who really need help around the holidays.  What do you recommend they do?"

What a golden opportunity to share the REAL meaning behind Christmas!  The news of the birth of the sinless Son of God!  God in the flesh!  Sent to redeem the lost!  Joel could have said something like... 'You know Sean, there are a lot of people out there Christian and non-Christian alike who are hurting and suffering the perils of this world... but there is one thing that separates those who believe in Christ from the rest of the world... and that is their hope.  Not in gifts, or health and wealth even.. but in Christ. The true reason to celebrate Christmas is the birth of Christ, the promised Messiah, sent so that we might be forgiven by God. You see Sean, there really isn't anything in this world to hope for that won't ultimately disappoint.  But there is one true hope to live for.  Every person ever born into this world was born sinful.  The Bible says that we are all sinners.  God has graciously and mercifully defined sin for us in His word.  The Ten Commandments gives us God's standard for goodness and reveals how we have all not only broken one or two commandments but that we are all in fact sinful people who have repeatedly broken the perfect Law of the Lord and our transgressions against Him are innumerable.  Every person is guilty before God because of their sin, but Sean, the good news is that Christ came and lived a perfect life under God's Law and died a perfect death.  The Bible says that He and He alone is our hope and our salvation.  The perfect sacrifice for our sin.  God made Him who knew no sin to be sin so that WE might become HIS righteousness!  That is the true hope!  Hope is found in Christ.  God has promised, and His word is sure, that all those who will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!  If anyone will repent, turn away from their sin, and place their faith in Jesus Christ, God will save them.  That is true hope."

Now... that's just an example of what he might have said... certainly elements of that are what he should have said.  BUT, what did he say?

"I recommend that they don't get bitter, that they turn their faith toward the Lord.  I think, like Victoria said, if you can go out and help somebody else, get your needs off yourself and reach out to others." (even though Victoria actually said that helping others was the greatest thing you can do for yourself) "Sometimes all you can give is a smile or a hug or go enjoy some fellowship with somebody else, I think that's the key.  Don't sit around with your curtains closed, depressed, thinking about how bad you have it, that's just going to pull you down further."

That's it!  That's all!  Try that method folks.  Go out on the street, find someone who is hurting and hopeless and tell them to just go help others and keep their curtains open because THAT will bring them hope.  Or maybe YOU are the person reading this and it is you who is depressed or disappointed or hurting or whatever.  Just try that method.  Just go out and make yourself feel better by helping others.  Because, of course, the goal in helping others is to do something great for yourself... The audacity of Joel Osteen! 

Listen, believe it or not, you are not a good person.  Neither am I.  The Bible says we've our sins are manifold.  If you've ever lied, stolen, lusted, coveted, hated, failed to honor God as number one, failed to honor your parents, etc... If you've ever done any one of those things then you are not a good person but in fact a guilty sinner who deserves the just wrath of the Holy God whose Law you've transgressed.  If you die in your sins you will spend eternity in Hell suffering the unbridled wrath of God.  But God offers hope in Jesus Christ.  God can't overlook your sin or He would no longer be just however He has sent Christ so that if you will repent (turn from your sin) and trust in Christ you will be saved!  God will place your sin on Christ and forgive you because of Jesus sacrificial death on the cross in your place!  You can be saved!  God will grant you eternal life because of Jesus!  It isn't about what you can do to be good or earn forgiveness, because you can't be good and you can't earn salvation.  It's about what Jesus DID!  Repent and trust in Him right now!  Look unto the Lord and be saved! (Isaiah 45:21).

I would be more than happy to talk with you if you have questions but please know I cannot save you.  I can merely point you to the One who will!

For those of you who follow the likes of Joel Osteen, please... throw his worthless teachings out and get into the true Word of God!  His books make GREAT kindling for your fireplace as this chilly winter season sets in!

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