Joel’s At It Again

Well, Debbie got Woman’s Day magazine in the mail and on the front cover Heather saw there was an article from the pastor of one of the largest churches in America. Digging in, we saw that Joel Osteen decided to spout some more “safe for the whole family” generic advice that no Christian leader should ever give. Let’s look at his points one at a time.

1. Find the gift in each day.
“How you start the day is going to determine what kind of day you have. Instead of waking up and thinking, ‘I don’t want to go to work today,’ focus on positive things like coming home to your family or a fun lunch you’re having with a colleague.”

So here we get a nice dose of the power of positive thinking. The Bible doesn’t teach you to think positively – it teaches you to set your mind on things above and not things on earth. But each day is definitely a gift from God and we’re not promised another one – make the most of each day!

2. Don’t give away your power.
“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.”

This point is nothing but pure heresy at first look. We don’t have power to give away – it’s God’s to grant to us as He sees fit. Also, there’s an implication that our “power” lies in positive emotions or happiness, since we give away said power when we allow negative emotions to be indulged. Oprah would love this.

3. Know whom to ignore.
“A disagreement or incident involving someone who’s not that important to you, like a guy who cut you off in traffic or a rude cashier, is something that should roll off your shoulders. Save the effort for resolving conflicts with the people you cherish.”

So we should ignore conflicts when they aren’t with someone we cherish? Not only is that unbiblical, that’s entirely greedy! We are called to be peacemakers when at all possible (If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18). Don’t ignore people just because you selfishly don’t care about them!

4. Be a victor, not a victim.
“You’re going to go through tough times––that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events. When my father passed, I was devastated, but it was what inspired me to follow in his footsteps with my ministry.”

This seems like a variant on a biblical premise (And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8-28). However, that promise is for believers only. Also, it says things work together for good – not that all things have good in them. That’s an important distinction. For some great, in-depth teaching on this passage, check out the sermon last week from our church.

5. Celebrate others’ success.
“We live in a culture that relishes tearing others down. It’s ultimately more fulfilling, though, to help people reach their goals. Instead of feeling jealous, remember: If God did it for them, He can do it for you.”

Yes, we should celebrate with others when they succeed. But that last sentence has two false premises: First, God may not have done it for them. Second, of course God can help you succeed – He’s omnipotent. But is it His plan for you do succeed the way you would like? Very rarely is that the case.

This pop psychology that Osteen spits out might make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, but there’s no foundation to it. I’d suggest taking advise from someone who get’s that advise from God’s Word (and His Spirit inside of His Elect), not from watching Oprah.

About John

I am the AV Systems Design Engineer in the department of Enterprise AV Services, part of the Division of Information Technology at University of North Georgia. That means I design, install, and maintain anything that is audio visual: projectors, sound systems, control systems, cameras, lighting, Crestron, Polycom, Extron, AMX, and any other techy-sounding thing. I’m also a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where I obtained a Master of Divinity win Biblical Counseling. I’m married to my awesome wife (Heather) and have an awesome family (first Jack, then Debbie, then Hannah, then Levi, and now Emmeline)!

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