God never pursues His glory at the expense of the good of His people, nor does He ever seek our good at the expense of His glory. He has designed His eternal purpose so that His glory and our good are inextricably bound together. What comfort and encouragement this should be to us. If we are going to learn to trust God in adversity, we must believe that just as certainly as God will allow nothing to subvert His glory, so He will allow nothing to spoil the good He is working out in us and for us.

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In his interview with Larry King (CNN, June 20, 2005), JOEL OSTEEN said that he is not sure what happens to people who reject Christ. King followed up with the question about Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians. They're wrong, aren't they? Osteen replied, 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. King (and a caller) gave him a few more chances to answer the question, but it kept coming back to the heart: God's got to look at your heart. Evidently, the last judgment will be based not on God's standard of holiness and justice but on the purity of our hearts Certainly there is truth in this position. God will expose all of the secrets of our hearts on the last day. However, where Osteen seems to think that God's judgment of our heart (like his record-keeping) is good news, Scripture treats it as the worst possible report, since "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus added, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:11). My heart has conceived and committed sins that my hands have never carried out. Far from being a relatively unspoiled beach of sanctity, the heart is the citadel from which our mutiny against God and neighbor is launched. Even when I have done the right thing as far as other people are concerned, if my sincerity were weighed, it would actually count against my righteousness. So to think that our trial before God's all-knowing justice can somehow turn in our favor by examination of our heart or the record of our life is a dangerous mistake. I keep thinking of St. Anselm's great line to those who thought that Christ's death was not a vicarious substitution: You have not yet considered how great is your sin is. Osteen's outlook may resonate with Americans steeped in a sentimentalized version of the Pelagian heresy of self-salvation. But it is not Christianity When asked by Larry King if he uses the word sinners, Osteen replied, I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what [when] they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. What's remarkable is the he has not even thought about it. Osteen's view of sin, ironically, is actually quite similar to the hellfire and brimstone preaching of a prior generation. To be sure, you'll never hear him threatening, You'll go to hell if you dance. Don't smoke, or you will incur God's judgment. Heaven and hell are not exactly your major themes when the message is all about your best life now. But his message is still very much about moral therapy: changing your lifestyle to receive God's favor. It's not heaven in the hereafter, but happiness here and now: but it is still up to you to make it happen. The older fundamentalists whom Osteen has in mind had their sin lists for which you could be condemned. Not only were most of these major sins never mentioned in Scripture; they reduced sin to sins. Of course, sins can to some extent be managed, especially when they are taboos that we have invented. Such churches were filled with people who thought well of themselves because they had managed to shun legalism's sin lists. However, the sins that the Bible mentions are less easily managed: gossip, envy, strife, coveting. For many of us, these vices actually mentioned in Scripture were often more evident in the church than they were among our neighbors. So the first thing to do in order to trivialize sin and make it look as though our righteousness can withstand God's judgment is to come up with our own sin list rather than God's.

21 views · Feb 8th

Joel Osteen: "God Wants to Supersize your Joy" -- So what's wrong with that? On Sunday night, 41,000 fans packed Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., to hear a message of hope, inspiration, and encouragement from Joel Osteen. Most paid about $20 (including fees) for the privilege. Osteen sold out the stadium--a feat the Nationals rarely accomplish. But did he have to sell out to do so? Osteen is the latest embodiment of the American Religion--Revivalism. For centuries now, preachers have known how to fill stadiums or circus tents and send people home with hope in their heart and a skip in their step. Osteen promises you will leave a transformed person--at least until his tour comes around again next year, when you can be transformed again. Osteen's message is a positive one for a difficult time. Every one of us has seeds of greatness inside, potential that has not yet been released, buried treasure waiting to be discovered. If you were a car, you would be the fully loaded and totally equipped model--"with pin stripes," he says, gesturing to his suit. Before God created you, he planned great things for you. As you stretch your faith, "God is going to show up, and show out, in tremendous ways. … If you don't step into your destiny and release your gift, then this world will not be as bright as it should be." That's a pretty positive message. What could be wrong with that? The biggest problem with Osteen's message about God is that it is really a message about me. God is a potential, a force, a co-pilot, waiting to be tapped and deployed. I may have a net below me, but I am the one that has to take the first steps on the wire: Taking steps of faith is imperative to fulfilling your destiny. When I make a move, God will make a move. When I stretch my faith, God will release more of his favor. When I think bigger, God will act bigger. God is as big as I think him to be. Yes, this is the American Religion: a program, a plan, five simple steps to help me be all that I can be. This is the religion of the bootstraps, where "God helps those who help themselves." By the way, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that is a quote from the Bible. It's not. And that's the second problem. Osteen's message is not biblical. His promise that his audience will be taught the Bible—from a preacher who has admitted that teaching the Bible isn't his strength—is fulfilled with a smattering of verses. These snippets are at best torn out of their context, at worst fabricated. There's this stretch: "God is saying to you what He said to Lot, 'Hurry up and get there, so I can show you my favor in a greater way.'" In Genesis 19:22, the Angel does tell Lot "Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither." God is waiting on Lot to step out in faith so he can bless him? Not exactly. It is God telling Lot to flee to Zoar, a city of safety, so he can rain down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. Osteen bolsters his bootstrap religion by quoting Jesus: "Roll away the stone, and I'll raise Lazarus." This, Osteen says, is a "principle," "God expects us to do what we can, and He will do what we can't. If you will do the natural, God will do the supernatural." One problem. Jesus does command them to roll away the stone, but no such quid pro quo is found in holy writ. This foundational principle is one of Osteen's own making. It is not primarily the details of Osteen's biblical sunbeams that are problematic. It's the overall message. What's missing is any sense of human sin. Osteen leads his crowd in a mantra at the opening of his performance: "This is my Bible. Tonight I will be taught the word of God. I can do what it says I can do." Again, bootstraps. What does the Bible say we can do for ourselves? Our best works are like filthy rags, the prophet Isaiah teaches (Isaiah 64:6); we are like sheep gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). Paul says "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and includes himself in this "all" as "the chief of all sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). The big problem is that we don't want what's good for us, and when we do, the word of God says, "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do" (Romans 7:19). Ring true? It does for me. That's why the stadium will be full next year. Self-esteem doesn't help me, it just leaves me with more me, digging deeper within. How about Jesus? Surely he's more upbeat than Paul or the prophets? Well, he does offer this simple recipe to happiness: "Go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor." You done that yet? Yes, he does say that our faith makes us well, but he is the healer our faith looks to. He also tells the paralytic to take up his bed and walk, but only after he has healed him. What we want is the excitement and encouragement and affirmation of the stadium—"God is waiting for you to act." What we need is the truth and compassion of Jesus--"Come unto me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

16 views · Feb 8th
7 views · Feb 8th

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In his interview with Larry King (CNN, June 20, 2005), JOEL OSTEEN said that he is not sure what happens to people who reject Christ. King followed up with the question about Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians. They're wrong, aren't they? Osteen replied, 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. King (and a caller) gave him a few more chances to answer the question, but it kept coming back to the heart: God's got to look at your heart. Evidently, the last judgment will be based not on God's standard of holiness and justice but on the purity of our hearts Certainly there is truth in this position. God will expose all of the secrets of our hearts on the last day. However, where Osteen seems to think that God's judgment of our heart (like his record-keeping) is good news, Scripture treats it as the worst possible report, since "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus added, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:11). My heart has conceived and committed sins that my hands have never carried out. Far from being a relatively unspoiled beach of sanctity, the heart is the citadel from which our mutiny against God and neighbor is launched. Even when I have done the right thing as far as other people are concerned, if my sincerity were weighed, it would actually count against my righteousness. So to think that our trial before God's all-knowing justice can somehow turn in our favor by examination of our heart or the record of our life is a dangerous mistake. I keep thinking of St. Anselm's great line to those who thought that Christ's death was not a vicarious substitution: You have not yet considered how great is your sin is. Osteen's outlook may resonate with Americans steeped in a sentimentalized version of the Pelagian heresy of self-salvation. But it is not Christianity When asked by Larry King if he uses the word sinners, Osteen replied, I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what [when] they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. What's remarkable is the he has not even thought about it. Osteen's view of sin, ironically, is actually quite similar to the hellfire and brimstone preaching of a prior generation. To be sure, you'll never hear him threatening, You'll go to hell if you dance. Don't smoke, or you will incur God's judgment. Heaven and hell are not exactly your major themes when the message is all about your best life now. But his message is still very much about moral therapy: changing your lifestyle to receive God's favor. It's not heaven in the hereafter, but happiness here and now: but it is still up to you to make it happen. The older fundamentalists whom Osteen has in mind had their sin lists for which you could be condemned. Not only were most of these major sins never mentioned in Scripture; they reduced sin to sins. Of course, sins can to some extent be managed, especially when they are taboos that we have invented. Such churches were filled with people who thought well of themselves because they had managed to shun legalism's sin lists. However, the sins that the Bible mentions are less easily managed: gossip, envy, strife, coveting. For many of us, these vices actually mentioned in Scripture were often more evident in the church than they were among our neighbors. So the first thing to do in order to trivialize sin and make it look as though our righteousness can withstand God's judgment is to come up with our own sin list rather than God's.

21 views · Feb 8th

Joel Osteen: "God Wants to Supersize your Joy" -- So what's wrong with that? On Sunday night, 41,000 fans packed Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., to hear a message of hope, inspiration, and encouragement from Joel Osteen. Most paid about $20 (including fees) for the privilege. Osteen sold out the stadium--a feat the Nationals rarely accomplish. But did he have to sell out to do so? Osteen is the latest embodiment of the American Religion--Revivalism. For centuries now, preachers have known how to fill stadiums or circus tents and send people home with hope in their heart and a skip in their step. Osteen promises you will leave a transformed person--at least until his tour comes around again next year, when you can be transformed again. Osteen's message is a positive one for a difficult time. Every one of us has seeds of greatness inside, potential that has not yet been released, buried treasure waiting to be discovered. If you were a car, you would be the fully loaded and totally equipped model--"with pin stripes," he says, gesturing to his suit. Before God created you, he planned great things for you. As you stretch your faith, "God is going to show up, and show out, in tremendous ways. … If you don't step into your destiny and release your gift, then this world will not be as bright as it should be." That's a pretty positive message. What could be wrong with that? The biggest problem with Osteen's message about God is that it is really a message about me. God is a potential, a force, a co-pilot, waiting to be tapped and deployed. I may have a net below me, but I am the one that has to take the first steps on the wire: Taking steps of faith is imperative to fulfilling your destiny. When I make a move, God will make a move. When I stretch my faith, God will release more of his favor. When I think bigger, God will act bigger. God is as big as I think him to be. Yes, this is the American Religion: a program, a plan, five simple steps to help me be all that I can be. This is the religion of the bootstraps, where "God helps those who help themselves." By the way, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that is a quote from the Bible. It's not. And that's the second problem. Osteen's message is not biblical. His promise that his audience will be taught the Bible—from a preacher who has admitted that teaching the Bible isn't his strength—is fulfilled with a smattering of verses. These snippets are at best torn out of their context, at worst fabricated. There's this stretch: "God is saying to you what He said to Lot, 'Hurry up and get there, so I can show you my favor in a greater way.'" In Genesis 19:22, the Angel does tell Lot "Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither." God is waiting on Lot to step out in faith so he can bless him? Not exactly. It is God telling Lot to flee to Zoar, a city of safety, so he can rain down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. Osteen bolsters his bootstrap religion by quoting Jesus: "Roll away the stone, and I'll raise Lazarus." This, Osteen says, is a "principle," "God expects us to do what we can, and He will do what we can't. If you will do the natural, God will do the supernatural." One problem. Jesus does command them to roll away the stone, but no such quid pro quo is found in holy writ. This foundational principle is one of Osteen's own making. It is not primarily the details of Osteen's biblical sunbeams that are problematic. It's the overall message. What's missing is any sense of human sin. Osteen leads his crowd in a mantra at the opening of his performance: "This is my Bible. Tonight I will be taught the word of God. I can do what it says I can do." Again, bootstraps. What does the Bible say we can do for ourselves? Our best works are like filthy rags, the prophet Isaiah teaches (Isaiah 64:6); we are like sheep gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). Paul says "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and includes himself in this "all" as "the chief of all sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). The big problem is that we don't want what's good for us, and when we do, the word of God says, "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do" (Romans 7:19). Ring true? It does for me. That's why the stadium will be full next year. Self-esteem doesn't help me, it just leaves me with more me, digging deeper within. How about Jesus? Surely he's more upbeat than Paul or the prophets? Well, he does offer this simple recipe to happiness: "Go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor." You done that yet? Yes, he does say that our faith makes us well, but he is the healer our faith looks to. He also tells the paralytic to take up his bed and walk, but only after he has healed him. What we want is the excitement and encouragement and affirmation of the stadium—"God is waiting for you to act." What we need is the truth and compassion of Jesus--"Come unto me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

16 views · Feb 8th
7 views · Feb 8th