I have inside word that Joel Osteen is under stress. It seems a woman has been stalking him in one manner or another. While precautions have been taken, these things can take their toll. Even Jesus found it necessary – and increasingly difficult – to escape physical jeopardy, until He willingly accepted it when it was His time to go to the cross. We need to be praying for Joel, and all the church’s leaders.
I wish the body had a broader perspective toward ministers such as Joel. Joel is not perfect. I don’t go to him when I want a catechism answer. But there was a time in my life when I did go to him for encouragement, and to be reminded of the love of God. In fact, he was the only TV preacher I could listen to for a season.
Yet because he doesn’t harp on sin week in and week out, some accuse him of distorting the Gospel. They don’t understand that when Joel exhorts us to have a better attitude, or exercise faith that God is working on our behalf and will bring good out of difficult circumstances, it is implicit that our sinful attitudes must change and we must draw near to God.
It also escapes the understanding of some that the Gospel is about more than just initial salvation. Salvation is an ongoing process by which we are continually sanctified – “from glory to glory” is the way the Bible puts it – and we need encouragement and exhortation to be walking according to the fullness of our heritage in Christ. Joel is a modern day “bar Nabus” (son of encouragement), bringing us that uplifting word.
There’s also one other thing that some don’t realize. A great portion of the world’s people live trapped in dark lands where the love of God is suppressed. Joel’s message of love is beamed into those lands via satellite and the Internet. Imagine you have been born into a repressive cultural milieu, and live in terror of arbitrary and legalistic religion. Now you hear of a God who acts on our behalf from selfless love. You even see the minister quite frequently getting emotional talking about Him. What amazing evangelistic power this can have. God loves these souls, and we need to reach them with that love.
As I said, Joel is not perfect. But he has been faithful with the light he’s been given. He helped me immensely during a season of my life, and for that I will always be grateful and bless him. We need to pray for our leaders. Until the Body comes together in the unity of faith and love, we will suffer together with a lack of power.
I reworked my post from last April, concerning how the difficult passage in Hebrews 6 is really about restoring, rather than condemning, fallen Christians, and I think it now speaks more directly and powerfully to the issue. This is one of the hardest passages in the Bible. It’s easy to misunderstand where the author is coming from, and to fall into a sense of condemnation that can have disastrous consequences.
So if you’ve wondered about what Hebrews 6 is getting at when it says that it’s impossible to renew someone who has fallen away, give the updated piece a read: Hebrews6: Restoration for Fallen Christians/
Several months ago a family moved in next door. We live on a lake, but their house is maybe 50 feet below mine, as I’m on a steep slope going down to the lake.
Everything was fine for a while. They seemed like a nice family, though because they’re on a different road than me we never got to meet.
But then there was the dog. Read more…
In part 1 I laid out my need to explicate the Gospel in its basics. Most already know the basics, but sometimes a fresh perspective helps shed new light in the heart. That’s my hope. And especially I would like to help people who are new to the Lord, or who do not know him, to understand him better.
So far, in Part 1, we imagined a God who is absolute in knowledge and power, and who perfectly possesses such character qualities as righteousness, peace and joy. And to that we then added a most amazing aspect to his nature: love.
Love is amazing because it is the one quality that takes a person out of himself and focuses on seeking the good of others in a highly personal way. There are many aspects to love by which this can occur – mercy, admiration, empathy, etc. – but they all fall under the rubric of love.
God exists perfectly content, but if he had a way to express his love others would be blessed as well, and his love would be more fulfilled. He would take joy is seeing others happy. It’s not that he needs it, it’s purely generosity toward those he would love. I don’t have a better way to say it than that, and I suspect it’s ultimately a mystery that we can’t understand.
So God set into motion a plan. He would create. He would create inanimate objects, he would create living creatures, and ultimately he would create beings made in his own image and likeness, who could commune with his spirit. He would create man. Read more…
I’ve been processing some pain lately, and I’ve felt the need to trace it to its root. When we have recurring spontaneous pain, it’s like the warning light on a car’s dashboard. It’s a sure sign that there’s something going on under the hood that needs our attention.
Ultimately, exactly how we are co-laborers with God in our own salvation and the salvation of the world is a mystery. But we have enough light on the matter to be able to function and bear fruit. On a practical level, I am increasingly convinced that precious little, if any, spiritual advancement happens automatically. We need to be diligent about it. We need to direct our attention to it and press in. When we find obstacles or hindrances, we need to devote ourselves to their removal.
And so as I was making breakfast this morning, out of the blue came a twang of spiritual pain. I tried to rush past it, but then I realized that I needed to deal with whatever was behind it. So I asked, “what was that?”, and it was quickly revealed to me that the pain was from rejection.
Immediately I saw my error. Rejection cannot hurt me unless I am trying to gain my significance from man’s acceptance. If I direct my need for acceptance and significance to God alone, what can man’s rejection do to me? And that is exactly what God wants us to do. Read more…