The hypocrisy of those who criticize the Osteen’s…

I grew up listening to John Osteen (Joel Osteen’s Dad) and still do when given the opportunity; I appreciated his compassion for those who do not know Jesus, and his unwavering commitment to the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. I sat at lunch one day and told two Pastor friends that I wanted to go to John Osteen’s Pastor’s Meeting that year, “cause none of us are getting younger.” That was the very day that John Osteen passed away and oh how I hate I never got to go.

Fast forward many years and his son Joel Osteen has taken over as the Pastor of Lakewood Church and has gone far beyond the size and scope of his Father. His style is different, approach different, but I refuse to criticize him, having learned the great lesson of 1 Chron 16:22 many years ago. My comment is still, ‘until I’m doing as much for God as they are I’ll stay busy with what I’m called to do and not criticize.’ Great wisdom I learned from a leader years back, and wisdom I will continue to walk out in my life.

Now there is much furry about Victoria Osteen over a comment she made on a recent telecast when she said, “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy.”

WOW! The fury over someone’s words this has caused. I ran for Congress in 2012, and the knowledge that people were looking for me to mis-speak at EVERY event was a terrible pressure. I lived there for a short time very publicly and they have for much longer and for that, they’ve earned my respect.

Now I’ll dissect certain thought along those lines…

One major criticizer of the Osteens has said they believe that God is more interested in making us happy than making us holy. While I want to make several statements here I will ask this, “when did he become the Holy Spirit to discern what they believe?” Funny for me is all those who are so deeply moved by her comments don’t mind using this as an avenue to drive web traffic to their site.

Let me ask this to everyone who is either a critique or not:    HONESTLY, Why do you serve God?

It’s not for some selfless reason its to benefit you! So you won’t go to hell! So you can have eternal life! So you can walk in peace on this earth! So you can follow the golden rule! How many in ministry have witnessed someone living their own way, but when confronted by death or tragedy hey turn to Jesus! Thank God they turn to Him! BUT they aren’t turning to God for some altruistic reason – it’s for their sake!

The political side of me wants to ask how socialistic has the Gospel become that everyone makes the Gospel sound so disconnected from someones central spiritual, physical, or material needs, as if the only reason they are serving God is for the benefit of God; and if anyone tells me that, I don’t considered them truly honest but religious.

I leaned a long time ago, and have preached it often, that the Gospel is a definitely a mutually beneficial covenant… that I didn’t create! God did! Therefore I have to receive it on His terms, not mine. Look at some verses that are from across the Bible…

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (ESV)
19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Psalms 23 I’m not going to place it all here for brevity sake, but none the less, the WHOLE PSALM is about how The Lord desires to bless, protect, feed, and eternally secure his people.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Of course I will add my favorite three verses in the Bible:

Psalms 1:1-3
Blessed is the man  who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

SO is it wrong for me to want that! That God will bless me and my children, take me into a good land, be my Good Shepherd, take the heaviness of sin off my back… and make be blessed because I walk in His Word?

I bless the Osteens! They present a “Good Gospel GLAD” and speak of Jesus on every telecast… I’m reminded of  Luke 9:49-50 when I hear the nay sayers…

Luke 9:49-50
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

After 30+ years of public speaking and ministry I know that what I meant to say can come out a different way, so at worst I chosse to believe Victoria Osteen mispoke (since 1 Corinthians says ‘Love believes the best’ – and the criticizers are Biblical sticklers), but even worse is that others in kingdom ministry are using this as an issue to build their platform.

Oh and by the way, one blog I read really didn’t like the Osteens and that they preach that God wants to bless our life. It threw out almost every cliched comment on what is termed the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ and spoke of how we should live contrite and humble lives (which we should since His Grace is so abundant!)…. but he did have a spot where he asked for a contribution to keep his blog site us as it is how he feeds his family.

I passed. I didn’t want to be a stumbling block to his ministry by causing him to be blessed…

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Stranger In The House by Chris Vaughn

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Sample Chapter: The Chair Falls At Night

Okay here is a sample chapter of a story I’m working on. It’s not been through many edits yet, but I wanted to put it out there. Hope you enjoy!

 

 

Chapter 1

Everyone in Chestnut, Georgia had heard the stories of the chair and the table in the Old Man Synder’s house. Some said you could hear the sound of a chair falling at night, and others said it probably a rodent. No one had been brave enough to spend the night just for fun, and few ever went into the upstairs attic room where the table and chair were left. Joy Hand would be the first to see if the myth was true, and when you are 10 you are either scared or bold. Joy had the greatest of weapons: innocence.

 

Joy was thankful to lay down after a day of moving and more thankful to have her own room, even if it was in the attic with out a working light bulb. Some houses stay empty because of location, some because of cost, but some stay empty for the fact that there is story that people don’t want to embrace or even tell. Joy’s family didn’t have a choice and hadn’t been in that place for a couple of years to have a choice. The Hand family were thankful they had a place to go to that was nice, secure, and would Daddy to continue his farm. When your parents are a sharecroppers raising tobacco on a slim margin, your options aren’t many when your pockets aren’t deep.
Chestnut, Georgia in 1952 was your typical South Georgia town in both the good and bad. Small and quaint with dividing lines of economy and race like every over rural town in the South. The rules of the South were never written in stone, but still understood by people. Land owners ruled, sharecroppers worked the land and town was divided by race into the white and black sections with some overlap in all areas. Of course the lines of propriety got blurred from time to time, but in the course of daily living it was best to keep your place.in the structure of the south.
For Joy this night lying down in bed was the best part of this day. It had been a long day full of excitement for her but her muscles were sore from all the work she said she had done. The whole month had been tumultuous and catastrophic since the fire that took their old shotgun sharecropper house. Sharecropper homes, even like this newer one were never maintained as well as should be thought those homes always created an atmosphere where the roof that provided your home could also be the place of your hurt or death. Joy’s parents, Mama and Daddy, never knew exactly what caused the fire. There had been discussions as to whether or not Daddy was smoking in bed or Mama had left some grease on the stove, but it the wiring in the house was never something Old Man Snyder bragged about. He was at least good that way with the men that rented his land to farm, and rented their homes from him.

He did have one home that Joy and her family could rent, but no one wanted to rent it, but for the Hand family beggars weren’t choosy but very thankful.

 

The whole family was thankful to be alive, and to have the some of their belongings. Some things couldn’t be replace, but the things that mattered were here: Mama, Daddy, and Joy mostly followed by the family pictures and the blankets that Mama’s family had made. Those were heirlooms for the Hands. That might not seem like much to some but the love and work that went into them was more costly to Mama than gold.. Joy’s Mama and Daddy were thankful to have a place to move to, even though it had been empty for many years. A house could be a home with a little tender love and care, and Joy liked that Mama said it needed even more prayer. This house needed the prayer more than the care, and everyone in Chestnut, Georgia knew why. Even the Hands who said their prayers, well at least Mama out loud, before they moved in and encouraged Joy to say her prayers before she went to bed.

 

The moon shone through the window and lit up the whole room. In the spring of ‘52, the moon was all the light Joy had in her room. She did have a lonely bulb hanging from the rafters over the table in the room, but it didn’t work and hadn’t for several years. The attic bedroom was cozy and small with the barest of furniture for a young girl. Joy’s room had a bed, a dresser, a make shift closet rod to hang her few hangers of clothes, and a table with chair; the table and chair came were in the house when the Hands moved in. Houses that hadn’t been lived in for several years alway had issues to be worked out. Joy’s Daddy was making the best of a bad situation and recovering from a fire wasn’t easy and finding a home quickly in Chestnut even harder. He had found a home with a past, but her Daddy always said, “Everyone has a past Joy, that what gives them character. Never let your past shape your future.”

 

She like most little girls believed the words of her Daddy, and to her thinking those were good words too. This home shouldn’t be judged by its past, and even so it didn’t have to shape the future of those who lived in it, although it would.

 

It took her Daddy a long time to get Joy’s Mama to accept this house as their new place to live and make a home. Both her Mama and Daddy had grown up hard and endured the Great Depression and knew what hunger was. Daddy even knew what homelessness was and would quickly remind Joy whenever she didn’t seem content with their lot in life. Joy laid in bed remembering the heated discussion they had several days before.
“Mama, we’ve got to take it, there’s no other place to move.” Daddy said.
“I don’t care, that house has spirits in it. It’s not a peaceful place.”
“Goodness Mama, you don’t believe all that giber jabber. Just a bunch of old wives tales.”
Mama wasn’t taking any of Daddy’s arguments, “Then you tell me why this house has sat for so long. I’ll tell you why, people know that this house ain’t right and there is something in it.”
“Well I don’t give a dog about what people say, and in a couple of days we are going to be in. You ought to know that by now? Anyway I’m thankful! This house is $35 cheaper a month, and that’s gravy to me. Wish I’d acted on it sooner.” Daddy rolled himself a cigarette as his adamant tone became very known to anyone within listening distance.
Mama wanted to try once more, “Well I just don’t like it. I…”
“Mama this is ended. We have no where else to go that will allow me to keep working my farm. This house sits next to my leased land. It’s $35 cheaper, it’s a nice home too. Yeah it’s been empty, but its been taken care of. It has a history, but there’s one more thing Mam… We have no where else to go. That alone settles it.” Joy’s Daddy walked outside and lit his cigarette. Mama knew from enough years that this discussion was over. Joy wouldn’t say a word if her life depended on it.She knew her Daddy, in this mood the wrong word would mean the end of her life.
All these thoughts ran through Joy’s mind as she looked around and remembered the stories of the house, the table, and the chair.

 

She was thankful for having a room. She knew it wouldn’t be warm in the winter since there was no insulation or even cool in the summer, as this house didn’t have air conditioning but what home of a sharecropper in ‘52 had air conditioning, in Chestnut none did. Joy laid there and listened to the far away sounds of the train off in the distance, the owls, and the stray dogs and the animals noises that haunted farms out in these parts. She thought again about the stories she’d heard about this house, or more correctly overheard about the house as her Dad moved furniture into the home.

 

 

The ‘Snyder House’ was on a long road that made it seem more lonely than the fact it had been empty for some times. It also had the dubious distinction to the better off families as being on the border to the poorer section of town. Some families wouldn’t consider the house for that fact, but the Hand family couldn’t afford to cared about that. When you’re living hand to mouth, you are thankful for everything and that includes those things that others despise. Those things didn’t matter to the Hands but surviving did, as well as the bringing in, curing, and auctioning of tobacco crop, and the knowledge of the people you could trust.

 

Joy starred at the window and thought how happy she was that she’d be close to her best friend Jackie. She’d heard her Daddy say they were living on the tracks now in between here and there but to a small girl that didn’t mean anything. Joy’s mind didn’t know where that exactly was but just being closer to Jackie made it worth this new house and even this room. She didn’t care and when you are 10 you don’t have the things on your mind that are would make you care. Before she fell asleep, she wanted to take the time say her prayers. She climbed back out of bed, knelt down, put her hands together, and closed her eyes as she said, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mama, Daddy, and Jackie, Mr. & Mrs. Burnham. And thank you for this house. Keep me safe in here, and I don’t care about those stories God, I know you will take care of me. Amen.”

 

Joy climbed back into the bed, and looked around with the light from moon as it’s glow flowed through the window. She’d overheard her Daddy and his friends talking about how this room had a bad story, and she wondered if they would tell her.

 

I’ll find someone to tell me what happened up here. As she wondered what happened, her mind slowly began to drift away.
She was almost asleep and the suddenness of the sound startled her. Her eyes opened wide, and she jerked wide awake. She knew she heard something but she wasn’t sure what. She rubbed her eyes for a moment and a shadow was moving in her eyes that distracted her. The light bulb was moving back and forth. She looked around and decided that the best thing was to not let the pass but to find out what this was. The innocence of a child carries a strength of boldness that fades as you become older.

 

“You can’t scare me. I don’t care what you are, or who you are. I’m not afraid of you” She watched the light bulb’s momentum slow down its swinging, as she strained to hear anything else. Joy realized that nothing else was going to happen she said again, “I’m not afraid now. Remember that. In fact I’ll pray for you.”

 

Joy got back out of bed, and knelt down. She closed her eyes as tight as she could, “God I’m not gonna be afraid, and whoever is in here, I ask you to help him, er… or what… I need some sleep, and they probably do too. Amen.”
Joy spun around and stood up to see if the light bulb had finished it swinging. It was bare moving and her eyes went to the floor. She was the first person to see what had caused the noise… the chair had fallen.

 

End of Chapter 1

 

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