Joel Osteen, America's Prosperity Pastor has a new book called "It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor". You might be aware of his previous best seller, "Your Best Life Now". In that book he wrote about how God wants you to live the best life you can, full of prosperity and all good things for those faithful enough to promote positive thoughts and prayers. I never read the book. I won't be reading his latest one either. I do however have a set of tapes of Osteen, which my mother in law asked me to buy so she could hear him speak. She loves positive messages. I do too, when kept in proper perspective. I have to admit, Osteen is a great speaker, and he is up beat and leaves you feeling good. But, is that what God wants us to focus on?
The problem with Osteen and others is not that they are good at what they do, it is what they do with what they have been given. They have the knowlege of Christ in them, but they focus more on the world, and what we can achieve more than who Christ is, why He came and how He will come again. The problem is, that with all the feel good stuff, which is temporary, they leave out the "meat" or the nourishment which is designed to help us achieve that which will have eternal benifits. They fail to tell others about the Gospel of Christ.
With all the feel good messages, which is not all that bad, but these messages alone are sure to set immature Christians and others up for a disappointment, in their lives, but more importantly in their spirit as well. There are many people angry at God when things they pray for don't come their way. When these folks who buy the tapes, books and attend seminars and coffee cafe churches don't get what they believe is their best now, it's not necessarily the preacher who gets the criticism- it's with God that these folks focus on with doubt and disappointment.
Which brings me to the main point of Osteen's (and others' feel good) books. After millions of people purchased these books, believing that if they have enough faith in God, and that He wants us all to be happy and prosperous, when they "name and claim" what they want out of life, and when they see the prosperity that these preachers have, what happens when the economy collapses? What happens when these positive thinkers lose their job? Their homes and savings?
While some may blame God for not prospering them, or question Him for allowing their jobs and homes to be lost- many are left in a place where they shrug it off, go with the flow and try again- in their own efforts to pick up and start again. Then when Osteen writes another book- one which says "Gee, I'm sorry you lost your savings, but you can keep the faith a little while longer, and it will all come back tenfold or more- just like Job!"
If you only keep up the faith! You can still have happiness and prosperity now!!
Isn't that great! NOT. For those who question God in the "why's", it may drive them away from believing which will some day fall on these prosperity pastors when they come before Christ. It also makes it harder for those who are not big name, big budget mega church stars, those who are trying to show one soul at a time of the love of Christ through His salvation. People will be put off, with a "been there done that" type attitude and may never come to the true Grace of Christ.
For the rest- those who go with the flow until the next how to book comes out, they will continue in their worldly pursuits, while Osteen and others make a few more millions claiming things which God has never promised.
No where in the Bible will you find it that God's focus is on our happiness. No where will you find that He means for us to live our best now- focusing on worldly things such as enough money, a big house, nice cars and a vacation once or twice a year. Not that there is anything wrong with these things! It is where the pastors focus your thoughts- on stuff instead of salvation. Stuff is nice. I would love to have a nicer house without mouse holes, and I have to admit that air conditioning would be kind of nice in the hot Florida summers too- but my mind is not focused on these things anymore. My heart is in heaven, where Jesus has gone to prepare a room for me! I can be reassured that the room my Lord is preparing is nicer, and more incredible than any place I can imagine having here on earth! And I know there won't be any bugs or rodents there either!
Our family, and millions of others have gone through a lot these past few years. My family has gone through 3 major hurricanes, a wild fire and other things which over the past 5 years depleated much of what we were able to save. My husband has been out of work since January, and our savings is gone.
Where would I be if I had have listened to Osteen or others instead of listening to the Lord? For one, I would be in despair over what will happen to my family. I would be worried constantly over every bill and expense. I would be questioning God, instead of thanking Him. I would be looking to the government to save me, instead of my Lord sustaining me. I would have given up, you see, because if I had followed all these name it and claim it preachers- well, that would have convinced me that I lacked faith because the good stuff hasn't come, and in fact, things have gotten worse over the past few years.
I thank God that I haven't fallen into the traps of pastors who ought to be showing people the way, the truth and the life, but I feel bad for those who have. I feel bad that there are so many millions of people who have been taught nothing except for what they can have now- but missing out on what they can have for eternity. This life is short. Some would use it as an excuse to live it up. But eternity will be so much longer than this life. Wouldn't you rather focus on what you can have in the long run?
Christ taught that His own would be persecuted as He was. He taught us that our real home is with Him in heaven and with our Father. He commands His own to go into the world, but not be a part of it- telling others about His grace and salvation. It's a shame that so many pastors who have been blessed with the chance to change the world by telling the world about Jesus, His death on the cross for all, and His resurrection - victory over death, so we can be with Him always, have ignored Him!His wish for us isn't that we have everything we want on this earth! He wants us to be obedient to Him so He can give us everything we need, and bless us with unimaginable things in our next life!
One last thing. I've noticed that in the past few years of things going wrong, have brought me closer to Him- to come to depend on Him, not myself. It has helped me to realize that everything He wants for me, and is willing to bless me with is found only in His Word. By reading the Bible every day, I am able to learn to hear Him, gain strength from him to sustain me through these times. And when times continue to get harder, I will have learned through Him to continue to lean on Him until some day I will be with Him and not have to worry anymore.
No prosperity pastor has taught me that. Only Jesus has taught me that. I pray that others will learn from the source of life and liberty- instead of reading about Him! I pray too, that these pastors will learn the errors of their way, repent and start using what God has given them to finally tell the whole truth, and not just the feel good junk food which keeps their own prosperity rolling as people lose faith in the One who really knows what prosperity it- the One who gave His life, so we could have our best life with Him!