Saturday, February 25, 2006

Joel Osteen mania...

Alright, so my last two posts were both about Joel Osteen and you are probably Joel Osteened out. Me too. I only post it because I think it is important to note what some "Christians" are saying out there. This man is leading many astray, and condemning "seekers" to a life of frivolity. Do you want to know why we as a culture are so materialistic, when our New Testament examples were quite the opposite? Look no further than preachers Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and all of the other tv "televangelists" who pretend to be "mainstream" Christianity.

Joel Osteen’s New Age Life Now?

Commentary Opinion By Brannon Howse

In part two of our examination of Joel Osteen’s teachings and beliefs
we expose what I believe are unbiblical, New Age doctrines.

“Whatever you conceive you can achieve.”

With this favorite karma-changing promise, New Agers believe you need only use the “unlimited” power and consciousness of your mind to bring about all your dreams, desires and wishes.

Cloaked in a “Christian” package, Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, bears an uncomfortable and dangerous similarity to this most popular of New Age claims. Sample a few of the Osteen versions:

• “You will produce what you’re continually seeing in your mind. If you foster an image of defeat and failure, then you’re going to live that kind of life. But if you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.” (page 5)

• “You must conceive it in your heart and mind before you can receive it.” (page 6)

• “You must look through your ‘eyes of faith’ and start seeing yourself as happy, healthy and whole.” (page 15)

• “What you will receive is directly connected to how you believe.” (page 22)

• “We receive what we believe.” (page 72)

• “Learn how to conceive. Keep the image of what you want to become in front of you. You’re going to become what you believe.” (page 81)

Osteen now travels the country, packing out stadiums with his happy-talk. But I’d like to see Osteen pay a visit to China, preach his “your best life now” drivel, and see how Christians there respond. Let Osteen look into the eyes of Pastor Lei who has been repeatedly arrested and beaten for preaching the Word of God in his church—a church not licensed by the Chinese government. How would the American’s best life work out for Pastor Lei and his congregation? Perhaps their jail time for the Gospel would give them time to assess Rev. Osteen’s claims.

Have these and countless other persecuted Christians been beaten, jailed and murdered because they “received what they believed,” or did these terrible things happen to them because they did not “develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness”?

Were eleven of Jesus’ disciples martyred because, “they received what they believed”? Were the disciples living under a “curse of poverty and defeat” as Osteen says of so many? Here’s a role-call of questions I’d like to ask Mr. Osteen. Why is it, Joel, that:

• Paul and Matthew were beheaded?
• Barnabas was burned to death?
• Mark was dragged to death?
• James, the less, was clubbed to death?
• Peter, Philip, and Andrew were crucified?
• Thomas was speared to death?
• Luke was hung by the neck till dead?
• Stephen was stoned?

How would these disciples take to the best-life message?

Yes, I know. Joel’s promises sound so much better to American ears than all those warnings of Jesus about being hated by most people for His sake. But it remains that in large measure, Joel’s offering can be described as nothing less than blasphemy. On page 36, he claims, “God has a big dream for your life.” On page 56: “God sees you as a champion. He believes in you even more than you believe in yourself!” And on page 110: “God has confidence in you.”

Osteen does not provide a single Bible verse to back up these statements…because there are none. Nowhere in the Bible do we read that God believes or has confidence in us. He loves us, but does not believe in us. On the contrary, He knows all too well how unbelievably fickle and untrustworthy we humans actually are. It’s not like Joel describes on page 57: “Believe it or not, that is how God sees you, too. He regards you as a strong, courageous, successful, overcoming person.”

Furthermore, God does not define our success in materialistic terms as Joel does. God is interested in our obedience above all. On page 63, Joel writes:

As long as you are pressing forward, you can hold your head up high, knowing that you are a “work in progress,” and God is in the process of changing you. He’s looking at your last two good moves.

Joel, where in the Bible do you read that God is not looking at our last two bad moves but our last two good moves? Isaiah 64:6 says that even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags or wickedness to God because He is so holy. Even if God did look at our last two good moves, He would still see filthy rags.

Or how about this Osteen gospel gem from page 95:

“Be the best you can be, then you can feel good about yourself.”

Where in the Bible do we find this teaching? What if your best is getting drunk just once a week instead of twice a week? Should you still feel good about yourself?

But wait. I’ve saved Joel’s most outrageous statement for last (drum roll please). On page 144, Joel elevates us to the heavenlies by pointing out that “You may even need to forgive God.”

Whoa! And exactly what would we be forgiving God for? As I recall, forgiveness is for sins—or at least mistakes. But which of those has God made? Not a one according to any Bible I’ve ever read.

Oswald Chambers offers a perspective on the kind of thing the Osteens of the world do to Christians: “Satan’s great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.”[1] Hebrews 13:9 instructs us to not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings (deflected from the center) but sadly, that is exactly what is happening for many at the hand of Joel Osteen.

Instead of pursuing our best life now, we should pursue the things of the Lord so we can have our best life later. I fear that for many who follow Joel’s false teaching, this life is the best they will get. The false gospel proclaimed by Joel Osteen and accepted as truth by millions may allow many to achieve what they can conceive of the things in this world, but true to Jesus’ promise, they may lose their souls in the pursuit.

[1] George Grant, The Family Under Siege, (Bethany House Publishers, Mlps, MN. 1994) p. 44.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Joel Osteen's Wimpy Life Now

Part 1
Commentary by Brannon S. Howse
I recently had the distinct displeasure of sitting down to read Joel Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now. I knew what to expect, though, because on several occasions I have watched his national television program.
Osteen’s message is overwhelmingly syrupy—Christian happy-talk on steroids. His “good news” sounds more like it came from the pages of Oprah magazine or a Dr. Phil book than from the Bible. If you are interested in health, wealth, prosperity and positive-thinking heresy, then Osteen’s your man. If you decide to see for yourself, though, I warn you that his book and “show” are so sweet you will likely get cavities if you take in too much. But then, cavities are the least of worries for those that follow Osteen’s man-centered Christianity.
Joel is fast becoming the poster-boy for America’s politically correct, wimpy, liberalized clergy. Like so many of his colleagues, Osteen wants to be liked by all and offensive to none. As a result, he chooses his words warily and shrinks from controversy like from a hot stove.
And what, to Joel, constitutes a controversial subject? Try “sin,” for example. It’s a word Rev. Osteen does all he can to leave out of his vocabulary. On the June 20th 2005 edition of Larry King Live, King probed Osteen on some truly provocative issues, but Joel wouldn’t budge in the direction of anything that might sound remotely like taking a stand:
KING: How about issues that the church has feelings about? Abortion? Same-sex marriages?

OSTEEN: Yeah. You know what, Larry? I don’t go there. I just ...

KING: You have thoughts, though.

OSTEEN: I have thoughts. I just, you know, I don’t think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don't think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I’m not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.

KING: You don’t call them sinners?

OSTEEN: I don’t.

KING: Is that a word you don’t use?

OSTEEN: I don’t use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don’t. But most people already know what they’re doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don’t go down the road of condemning.

Osteen also masterfully avoids “sin” for most of Your Best Life Now. For 309 of its 310 pages, he sidesteps the central problem that keeps mankind from experiencing God’s best. Only on page 310 (after the endnotes) does he mention sin—one time. For 309 pages, he discusses faults, mistakes and flaws, but never sin.
Here are some of the ways Osteen goes out of his way to avoid the “S” word:
* Page 201: “A pastor of a large church in America unfortunately got off track and made some poor decisions, resulting in his resignation.”
* Pages 61-62: “Sadly, of all the people who came out of Egypt, only two men, Joshua and Caleb, ever entered the land God intended for them….Their lack of faith and their lack of self-esteem robbed them of the fruitful future God had in store for them…..Remember, God had already guaranteed the Hebrews the victory, but because of their poor self-images, they never made it into the Promised Land. They never fulfilled their destiny, all because of the way they saw themselves.”
Uh, Joel, the reason God didn’t allow that generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land was because of their sin of disobedience (including idolatry). Not even in the loosest of modern paraphrases do you find any notion that the Bible says their problem was a lack of self-esteem or a mass poor self-image.
Osteen similarly avoids other “controversial” topics throughout until again, lucky page 310 boasts all the topics he’s tried not to bring up directly. Before that point, Osteen remains as politically correct as the best of congressional democrats, never using the words Jesus or Jesus Christ but instead referring only to “God.” And you’d never know living your best life would involve any change on your part. For 309 pages you never read of repentance or repent.
Also notably absent from Osteen’s book are virtually every other core Christian concept that might actually lead someone to a biblically abundant life. Osteen doesn’t discuss atonement, dying to self, picking up your cross, hell, the wrath of God, God’s jealousy, or the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I guess I should not be surprised. After all, the good reverend Osteen makes it clear to Larry King how he feels about mentioning such awkward Christian doctrines as hell:

KING: But you’re not fire and brimstone, right? You’re not pound the decks and hell and damnation?

OSTEEN: No. That's not me. It’s never been me. I’ve always been an encourager at heart. And when I took over from my father he came from the Southern Baptist background and back 40, 50 years ago there was a lot more of that. But, you know, I just—I don't believe in that. I don’t believe—maybe it was for a time. But I don’t have it in my heart to condemn people. I’m there to encourage them. I see myself more as a coach, as a motivator to help them experience the life God has for us.

If there were an annual Tell-them-what-they-want-to-hear Award, Joel Osteen would get my nomination. In his conversation with Larry King, in fact, he so obscures the “narrow road” to heaven, that most people could come away not even thinking there is a road. I mean, hey, we’re probably all already there, right? Again Joel and Larry discuss the non-answers:
KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches, and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

Are your ears tickled yet? Doubtless any Hindus watching that night were pleased with Osteen’s affirmation of their faith in whatever. By Osteen’s standard, apparently sincerity about something is the only necessary qualification for entering heaven. I’ve also known of some fairly sincere atheists. But I’m concerned that heaven might make them a bit uncomfortable—what with the presence of that Supreme Thing they spent so much time not believing in. I’m sure if they follow Joel Osteen’s formulas, though, even atheists can make the best of heaven.
In concluding, I should acknowledge that, after being blasted by evangelicals for his comments on Larry King, Osteen placed an apology on his Web site. His contrition, however, was clearly a public relations move. He’s still pushing the same wimpy heresies.
People have been serving up heretical ideas for centuries, of course, so in a way Osteen’s version is nothing new. But there is something new we must say about his teachings—something New Age, that is. And we’ll talk about that next time.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Religion of peace?

"Eleven people were killed and an Italian consulate was burned in Libya on Friday night during protests to denounce the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, sources in Libya said."
"Denmark is urging its citizens to leave Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, citing a threat from an extremist group over the publication of drawings of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper."
"MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Police fired in the air Monday to disperse stone-throwing protesters demonstrating over a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, triggering a stampede in which a teenager was killed in northern Somalia."
"We are determined that they are punished. They should prepare themselves for whatever may happen," he said. "Those kinds of things are uttered by enemies of Islam and Muslims."
"DAMASCUS, Syria (CNN) -- Muslim demonstrators in Damascus torched the Norwegian Embassy and the building housing Denmark's embassy because newspapers in those countries published what the protesters consider blasphemous depictions of Islam's Prophet Mohammed."
"In Damascus, protesters set a bonfire outside Denmark's embassy, using chairs and furniture from its offices, and protesters clashed with police and shattered windows with stones. The building also houses the embassies of Sweden and Chile."
"JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian gunmen Thursday shut down the European Union's office in Gaza City, demanding an apology for German, French and Norwegian newspapers reprinting cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammad, Palestinian security sources said."
"A prominent Iranian newspaper says it is going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust to test whether the West will apply the principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide against Jews as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed."

Alright, maybe I am just an unwitting American boy who has no idea about what happens in the real world. But why does our President keep saying that Islam is a religion of peace? Or, that the extremists are the ones destroying this peaceful religion? It seems to me that the only place that Muslims who are extremists is not the norm, is here in the US. It seems like all over the rest of the world they are pretty extreme. Even in France, a nation of spineless oil-for-food embezzlers, these "peaceful" people riot.
It's not that I mind outrage. OUTRAGE is GOOD! We should get outraged at certain things, there is evil in this world and we should get very, very angry. BUT where is the outrage when an innocent reporter who may or may not agree with the country he/she is reporting for gets kidnapped and then has their head chopped off with a dull, rusty, machete? Where are the protesters, where are the marches? Where are the Mullahs with their fists in the air screaming that allah is good? I will tell you where they are...they are in front of their tv's saying, "Good, they got what's coming to them". I have known some good Muslims in my life, nice people with good manners and a steady responsible day job. They had happy families, and gave money to charity, and were supportive of us in Afghanistan. But they are NOT the norm. American Muslims are NOT the norm. Guys like John Walker-Lindh they are the norm, they train to kill Jews and anyone who supports them in little dirt camps in the Middle East and Africa...or in jungles in the far east...or maybe in cities in the United States. These "extremeists" are not extreme...they are the norm...the moderate...they are what Islam is really about.
Check out the history books.
Peace. No, really...peace.

Friday, February 17, 2006


The US Postal Service created a stamp with a picture of Senator Hillary
Clinton to honor her achievements as the First Lady of our nation. In
daily use, however, it was shown that the stamp was not sticking to

This enraged Senator Clinton, who demanded a full investigation. After a
month of investigating, a special commission published the following

* The stamp was in perfect order.
* There was nothing wrong with the glue/adhesive.
* People were spitting on the wrong side.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Is it just me?

I am watching the Winter Olympics (and I love the Olympics) but weren't we just calling Torino, Turin? I am pretty sure that every time I had ever heard of this town before the Olympics we always called it Turin. The shroud of Turin which was in the town of Turin, Italy? While I am at it...why does Starbucks insist on calling small/medium/large -- tall/grande/venti? Before starbucks did anyone know what venti meant? And doesn't calling the small size tall count as false advertising? The first time I ordered a "tall" I was fairly ticked off that I had apparently just spent 5 bucks on a small coffee. Calling small, tall is like calling figure skating a sport. Which brings me to this...does this Johnny Weir (ice skater) freak not bother anyone else? The guy drives me crazy...he rambles worse than me. I don't even think he believes half the stuff he says. It sounds like he says stuff just for shock value, to tick people off. Guys like that should not be allowed to talk, they should just compete in their "sport" and not get a platform to speak about anything...other than what they are "competing" in.
So this is my first post ever...and I guess I'll write something more introductory the next time I post. Go USA!! Love those Olympics, man...