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.
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:
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; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 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…
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…