So Where is God?

There are many false teachers advocating the heretical “word of faith” teaching, which says ‘God will answer your prayers if you just have enough faith’. This heresy also teaches a ‘speak it and claim it’ “theology”. Likewise, there are many movies covertly presenting the same message. One example of this is Raising Izzie (2012), which is currently showing on the Dove streaming channel. Spoiler alert: I will be giving a synopsis of the movie, giving a lot of attention to the ending, so you may want to watch it before reading on.

Raising Izzie tells the story of two girls living alone after their mother dies of cancer. Gertie is the oldest and is taking care of Izzie, paying the bills with funds their mother set up before she died because she didn’t want them separated in foster care. When Mrs. Freeman starts teaching Gertie’s class mid-year, she eventually discovers the girl’s situation and brings them in to stay with her. Gertie tells her teacher about how they prayed for their mother and God didn’t do anything. Gertie has lost her faith in the existence of a God because her prayers went unanswered. Mrs. Freeman is also having trouble with her faith because she is unable to get pregnant. Her husband tells her to have faith. He says, “you have no idea what miracles God has in store.”

On a Sunday morning, an argument breaks out between Gertie and Izzie about the existence of God, and Izzie runs out of the Freeman home. Mrs. Freeman runs after her and is struck by a car which puts her in the hospital. Several days go by, and Gertie is again arguing about the existence of God, this time with Mr. Freeman. He insists that his wife will be healed because he prayed. Gertie says she prayed when her mother was sick, but nothing happened. “So where is God?” she asks him. “He will let you down just like he let us down.” Eventually, the hospital calls with news that Mrs. Freeman is not getting any better, and decisions have to be made. They go to the hospital to pray over her. Gertie says, “it won’t help. I’m not falling for it again.” Izzie tells her that they need her to believe so that Mrs. Freeman can be healed.

Gertie prays, “I’m so scared. I don’t think you can hear my voice. I’m stepping out on faith one last time, and if you don’t answer me, I’ll know you’re not real, or that you don’t love me. Please hear me. We need you to heal Mrs. Freeman.” She looks at Mrs. Freeman who is still in a coma and says, “There’s your God!” Mr. Freeman says, “you have to give God a chance,” to which Gertie replies, “I’m such a fool.” Mrs. Freeman then wakes up and Izzie yells, “see Gertie, I told you!” Mrs. Freeman tells Gertie that she saw her mom and that she had told her to tell Gertie to not give up so easy and that God is real. The movie ends with Gertie’s narration, “God is real, because I saw a miracle with my own eyes.”

The first thing that I thought after watching this movie was, ‘if she had died, then does that mean God isn’t real?’ After all, she prayed for her mother, but she still died. Should we abandon God when we don’t get the answer we were hoping for, only to love Him again later when things are looking good? I think about the book of Daniel and how Nebuchadnezzar told Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that they would be thrown into the blazing furnace if they did not fall down and worship his manmade image. They replied, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

The very important point that many people miss in this story is the “even if” principle. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that God had the ability to save them, but they wanted it to be very clear that even if God was not going to save them, for whatever reason, they would still serve only the One True God. That whatever happened, their lives were in God’s hands and they had full confidence that God knew what He was doing.

Likewise, let us not forget about Job, who lost his property and his children in one day and his health the next. Job’s wife said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). But Job’s reply to her was, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Job continued to trust God even though so many things were going horribly wrong in his life. His faith did not shake when he lost his children. Even through his grief, he blessed God’s holy name, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

We need to keep in mind that we were never promised an easy life, we were promised eternal life. Jesus even said that we would have trouble, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul also talks about suffering in Romans. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

The other thing that troubled me while watching this movie, was Gertie’s prayer, “if you don’t answer me, then I’ll know you’re not real.” What blasphemy! God is not a magician. He does not perform on command, and we should not be manipulating Him by asking for signs. Deuteronomy 6:16 says, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test…” This passage is quoted by Jesus when Satan tests him on the pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 4:5-7).

If God must continually prove His existence to turn unbelievers into believers, how can we even call that faith? In Luke, the rich man thought that if Jesus would raise a man from the dead, then surely his brothers would believe that they needed to repent so that they could escape the torments of Hell. Jesus replied, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). If you don’t believe in God now, then seeing a miracle will not make you believe, only the Word of God has the power to produce faith in a person. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

Now, one might say that Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matt. 21:22). ‘Doesn’t that mean that if I just have enough faith, God will grant my wishes?’ No. Again, God is not a magician, or a genie. That verse is not a never-ending coupon to get whatever you want. The more faith you have, the more your prayers will align with His will. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” The emphasis is not on our will, it must be in align with God’s will and God’s plan.

The examples of “faith” in this movie are superficial and reveal a narcissistic worldview, “God abandoned me, so I’m abandoning Him.” It demonstrates God proving His existence to non-believers but the bible teaches that faith is believing what we haven’t seen. “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). The very definition of faith can be found in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is not seeing a miracle with your own eyes, it’s trusting God, no matter the circumstance.

Is Discernment a “Waste of Time”?

Am I wasting time with my discernment blog? A reader recently told me that they prefer messages of hope, freedom, and victory. They said, “Busting Smiley Face Joel wasted my time.” Now I suppose, I could give you a joyful message that would make you feel all warm inside, or I could give you a message of encouragement that will get you through the next few hours of your stress filled day, but if that is what you are looking for, then you are in the wrong place! I am here to expose the very people that run around telling you that if you listen to their sermons, if you buy their books, if you read their devotionals, then you will have a happier and more fulfilling life. If you were to ask me, ‘where can I find hope, freedom, and victory?’, I would say, “the bible!”

The Word of God contains everything you need. If you are looking for hope, read Romans, where Paul teaches about the gospel and God’s promises. Messages of freedom are constant throughout the entire Bible. Furthermore, if you are looking for a story of victory, read about the resurrection of our LORD Jesus Christ, who overcame the grave, and freed us from our bondage of sin. “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said…” (Matthew 28:60). “’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-56).

So, is discernment a waste of time? Every week, 52,000 people pour into Lakewood Church thinking they are going to hear the gospel. Joel Osteen says he will teach them the Word of God, in fact, he starts every service with this mantra, “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess: My mind is alert, my heart is receptive. I will never be the same. I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible, Ever-living seed of the Word of God. I will never be the same. Never, never, never. I will never be the same. In Jesus name. Amen.” However, Joel Osteen does not teach the Word of God like he says. Bible verses are taken out of context to illustrate a point that has nothing to do with the Gospel message. He is a word of faith teacher. His focus is on things of the world, and that is precisely what the Bible tells us not to do (Colossians 3:2). And as I watch those 52,000 people sitting in his church, nodding their heads and taking notes, my heart aches for them. My heart aches because they see a Godly teacher, and I see a ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Twice Jesus cleansed His temple from corruption (John 2:13-17; Luke 19:45-48). There were false teachers and heretics in Jesus day as there is now. Our churches need to be preaching the Word of God, not word of faith. I can no longer sit idly by while false teachers use Jesus’ name for profit and fool people into thinking they are saved while they are not even being taught grace and mercy. I have a passion to cleanse God’s temple of the false teachers of this world and point people to the Word of God.

Chris Rosebrough, host of Fighting for the Faith, a radio program on Pirate Christian Radio was my inspiration for starting this blog. My eyes have been opened to the world of false doctrine and I will continue wholeheartedly to show people how important it is that we are discerning about what people are saying in accordance with the Bible. As Chris says at the start of every episode of Fighting for the Faith, we need “to slow down, stop, and open up [our] Bible and compare what people are saying in the Name of God to the Word of God.” It is imperative to steer people away from these false teachings and it is most certainly not a waste of time. I’d like to end this post with words from another great bible teacher, John Macarthur, from his sermon titled, The King Confronts Corruption:

“It is compassionate to preach the gospel. It is compassionate to preach the way of God. It is compassionate to warn against false leaders, heretics, and hypocrites. It is compassionate to warn of divine judgment. All of this is compassionate, calling people to salvation in the light of judgment.”

 

References used:
Wikipedia.org
Joelosteen.com
Piratechristian.com
Gty.org

Curing the “Cure for the Common Church”: a book review

Look out Joel, there is a new smiling sheriff in town and his name is Bob. This smiling sheriff is growing not the largest church in America, but the largest churches in America. As if Professor of Christian ministry and missional leadership at Wesley Seminary Wesleyan University wasn’t enough of a mouthful, we mustn’t exclude presidency of C3 International and author of eleven different books. Whitesel has been awarded two Donald McGavran Awards, one in Outstanding Leadership in Great Commission Research and one in Outstanding Scholarship in Church Growth. Whitesel’s educational background consists of a B.S., Psychology out of Purdue University, and a M. Div., D. Min. of Church Growth, Ph.D. of Church Change & Growth all from Fuller Theological Seminary.[1]

Whitesel receives applause from a variety of different peoples that he has helped. Rev. John Lowe III attributes Whitesel with having removed the “stumbling blocks that could have stop or slowed down the church’s momentum.”[2] Rev. Ralph Scherer commends Whitesel’s diagnostic process as an alleviation of the “turbulent waters” their church had experienced.[3] How unfortunate that it took almost two millennia to acquire such great insight, but let the church just be grateful now that the LORD Jesus Christ has granted the mercy on the church in rendering us Whitesel’s cure.

Cure for the Common Church is about both the numerical deterioration of attendance in the church and how not only to curb this occurrence, but reverse it. Whitesel uses a series of acronyms to aid in the application of such methods, which is complimentary of his inspiration with John Wesley (pg.62, 106, 109, 122).[4]

Whitesel’s growing acronyms include OUT, SMALL, LEARNers, and NEW. Growing OUT (pg.29) consists of Observation of who a church is equipped to reach, Understanding of the communities needs that a church is equipped to reach, and Tackling these needs by either refocusing/creating/ending existing programs. Growing SMALL (pg.72) consists of Surveying your existing small groups, Missionalizing these groups, Adding more groups, Leading these groups, and Locating the focus of these groups. Growing LEARNers (pg.103) consists of Linking learners publicly to a community, Every small group is a learning group, Agreement emerges in these groups, Reproduction of these learners occur, Needs are met by learning based action. The final growth segment is NEW (pg.139) consisting of a Non-judgmental atmosphere, Exploration of what people crave, and Walking the bridge of newness with these people.

Whitesel presumes to be able to cure the current common state of the church’s numerical deterioration with a series of prescriptions for congregants to employ. There are a few things the author presupposes his readers comply with, and consequently does not officially define all of his terms. This book was written primarily for average church members, but also for pastors and volunteer leaders (pg.11). Just so there is no confusion here, this means that he has written it for everyone in the church.

There are a few recurring themes throughout the course of Whitesel’s text. Perhaps the most common occurrence is of the word “focus,” which occurs on almost every other page. Another common theme in this book is balance, most often in conjunction with focus. Both themes are frequently used ambiguously, changing in context throughout the course of this book. Still remaining as the overarching theme of the book is the cultivation of numerical attendance, with an occasional caveat of the concern for the individual condition of a participant within the church. However, no clear establishment will be found for what a healthy spiritual state is for the individual and the church alike.

Throughout the course of reading this work, it is easy to feel as if you are living in a fantasy world. A world where life is perfect, and everyone is happy or at least desiring to “do the right thing” (pg.129). Not a world that is perfect because of an absence of suffering or pain, but because the church is the cure for the world’s ailments. Whitesel is eager to assume that all people desire salvation (pg.129, 131, 141/2, & 146). Unfortunately for Whitesel, this is not really how scripture would identify the past, present, or even future state of the church.

The church is not really something that can alleviate the ailments of the sin that the world produces. Someday the church will receive an instatement to glory, as well as an exemption status from the rot and decay of infiltration by heresy and conversely from numerical decline. Historically and presently however, the church is infiltrated by ravenous wolves (Mt.7:15/24, Mrk.13:22/3, Gal.2:4, 2nd Pet.2:1-3, 1st Jn.4:1, Jude 1:4, Deut.13:1-3, Jer.14:14-16, 23:13-16, 28:15-17, Ezek. 13:16/22, Mic.3:5-7/11). Had Whitesel taken the time to accurately define the role of the church, we would have discovered that her purpose is not really to bend to or “mirror” the culture as he so suggests (pg.33). This conformity of Christians to culture rather than culture conforming to Christ is clearly condemned by “the perfect will of God” (Rom.12:2). Furthermore, Christians are “not of this world, even as I/Christ am not of it” (Jn.17:16-18). One may well be inclined to ask, “why would a church want to ‘mirror the changing mosaic of its locale’ (pg.33)?” The answer should be obvious as the primary concern of Whitesel’s cure (pg.11, 15-17, 27, 63, 71, 81, 85, 116), to appeal to the masses.

The historical and current state of the church has been depicted in scripture as fairly bleak, but what of the future state? God’s Word says that “a time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers that will say what their itching ears want to hear” (2nd Tim.4:3, Is.30:10). The Gospel of Christ has not been, is not now, and will never be, compatible with secular humanism/paganism. The reason for this being of course the LORD’s jealousy as so heavily emphasized all throughout scripture (Ex.20:3), but because essentially Christ is forced to take the back seat to His own creation. For this reason, the Gospel of Christ often encounters opposition and hostility along the way.

In Acts 7:52, Christianity’s first Christian Martyr, Stephen, inquires of the people for any prophet their ancestors had not persecuted. Ironically the people respond accordingly to said lineage by stoning him to death. Assuredly a very Spirit-filled Stephen was taking solace in the reality that “a servant is not greater than his master,” and that “if the world hated Me/Jesus, it will hate you/Christians as well” (Jn.13:16, 15:20, Mt.10:24). That day Stephen gloriously joined the ranks of YHWH’s elites, accompanied by “Gideon, Barack, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets” (Heb.11:32). Elites who “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned into strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Heb.11:32-34). Never the less however, “there were others who were tortured,” facing “jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground” (Heb.11:35-38).

All of this opposition flies in the face of Whitesel’s presupposition that the people of the world have a natural desire for salvation, or that these people are inevitably capable of being converted into the church’s ranks. How fortunate indeed is the world for those who “did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Rev.12:11). Instead hating by comparison “father and mother, wife and child, brother and sister, yes even their own lives” (Lk.14:26). Ultimately the Gospel of Christ is good news, but not to those who are destined for eternal torment (Mt.25:34, Rev.13:18). Unfortunately for Whitesel’s cure, it does not differentiate between “the wheat and the tares” (Mt.13:24-30). It fails to account for any opposition to the Gospel account, and prefers rather people who naturally bend to it. Whitesel unknowingly presumes a world without tares in eager hopes of a world where the church will inevitably grow.

In failing to establish any definitive parameters for what the church is and why anyone should want to be a part of it, Whitesel safeguards some level of appeal for any who may not otherwise be inclined to participate in what it really is. This lack of definition may very well be conducive of the “non-judgmental atmosphere” that Whitesel so desires to cultivate (pg.139-144). Utilizing determinative or definitive ambiguity could potentially allow Whitesel to blur lines between the natural and the supernatural for exploitive purposes. This would be exceptionally advantageous for anyone who would desire to claim as supernatural some things that may very well have otherwise been natural, and vice versa.

Another recurring theme in Whitesel’s cure is a humanitarian concern as the purpose of the church (pg.26/7, 39, 43/5, 55, 76/7, 84, 103, 111, 115, 121, & 145). Doing things for people is neither unscriptural, nor unwarranted. Indeed, there is much for the church to be doing, however it is not the churches primary concern. Providing bread to the hungry is something that Christians ought to be concerned with per scripture (Lev.23:22, Deut.24:20, Mt.25:35-40, Jms.2:16, Is.1:17, Ps.82:3, Prov.31:9, Acts 6:1), however it should not be forgotten that “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God” (Deut.8:3, Mt.4:4). There is an order in which the LORD’s table is served. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus did not reply “Love your neighbor with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt.22:37, Lk.10:27). No, he replied “love the LORD your God.” Then the second and subsequent table of the law is served in loving your neighbor as you would yourself.

This very same order is precisely the order in which the ten commandments are structured, dealings with YHWH specifically first, followed by interactions and responsibilities between the created order (Ex.20). essentially what all this means is that you must not compromise on your understanding of Who Christ is as God in the flesh (Jn.1:14, 8:58, 10:30, Jer.51:19, Col.1:15), so as to not offend your neighbor. If you have to compromise on Christ’s exclusive contribution to the salvation of man so as to accommodate your neighbor, then you may as well carve out your eye rather than “have your whole body cast into Hell” (Mt.5:29, Mrk.9:47). If the believer is engaged in loving his neighbor as he loves himself, it may very well be that a hand removal is preferable over an eternity in hell. The self is not exempt from experiencing pain, no matter how inconvenient it may be to worship and serve only Him (Mt.4:10, Lk.4:8, Deut.6:13). If this seems at all harsh or unwarranted per scripture, it should be taken into consideration that Jesus instructed His disciples to “shake the dust off of their feet” as a testimony against any “who do not welcome you or listen to your words” (Lk.9:5, Mt.10:14). In “controlling the body in a way that is holy and honorable” (1st Thess.4:4), an extension of the self in the form of a neighbor is not then exempt from such discipline.

This humanitarian social harmony is merely a subjugation of accuracy, credibility, and accountability to scripture. While the church’s existence does contribute to the improved living conditions of both believers and non-believers alike, this is not the churches purpose. It is commendable at the very least, but only one facet of her existence. Ultimately she is a testament to mankind of the great love her Bridegroom has for His creation (Eph.5:26, Mt.9:15, 25:5-10, Rev.19:7, 22:17). The early church devoted herself to “the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). These early believers were “no longer tossed to and fro” (Eph.4:14), but instead carried a message to the nations that the “Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” be observed (Mt.28:18-20). The church’s commissioning for witness was and is much like that of Israel’s, “that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no God was formed, nor will there be one after Me” (Is.43:10). The church is primarily a testimony of the gospel, a proclamation of Jesus’ divinity and His work in crucifixion followed by resurrection.

Whitesel almost accurately assessed that if a church focuses on something other than Christ, like survival for example (pg.94), it would cease to exist. Unfortunately for Whitesel, he consistently withholds focus from being rendered to Christ alone, and instead flounders with a variety of alternatives. Aside from growth, he maintains that small groups should be a church’s primary focus (pg.85), along with meeting the needs of people, etc. This brings us to our final critique of the cure. Whitesel has either knowingly or unknowingly advocated division and segregation within the constructs of his prescriptions. This he has accomplished through geographical divisions (pg.36), demographical divisions (pg.34), small group divisions (pg.86), and associated value via leadership divisions (pg.83).

In finishing, we will simply cover the two most obvious segregations, which include demographic (pg.34) and newcomer small groups (pg.86). Jesus drew many different peoples to Himself, much diversity is found in those who worship Him. Yet in dying too self and so being engrafted into the body, we are united with a great variety of other functioning parts. The crucial thing to understand here is that Jews and Gentiles communed together. Church members do not go to church because they are Latin American, African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, or Caucasian. Nor is going to church compelled by interests such as NASCAR, motorcycles, or art. It is Christ that unites us.

Whitesel admits that existing small groups “quickly become closed” (pg.86), for this reason he suggests that new small groups should be started for newcomers. This is unfortunate considering that it caters to factional divisions and a refusal to adopt newcomers into particular groups. This segregation is antithetical to the behavior that Christ anticipates from His creation (Mt.11:28, Jn.7:37, Jn.12:32). This was particularly surprising considering his lengthy section at the beginning of this book concerning the debilitating contributions of an inward or closed off character trait in a church (pg.19-25). Given a scenario where a group becomes closed, corrective action should more than likely be taken to soften these hard hearted people.

[1] https://www.indwes.edu/seminary/academics/faculty/bob-whitesel/

[2] https://churchhealthexpert.wordpress.com/

[3] Ibid

[4]Whitesel, Bob Cure For The Common Church. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012., and https://www.indwes.edu/seminary/academics/faculty/bob-whitesel/

What I Did Not Find on Joel Osteen’s Website

In preparation for my first blog, I decided to head to the website of one of America’s favorite pastors, Joel Osteen. Looking for his sermons, I made a few interesting observations, and decided that my adventure through the website was worth sharing. I am going to tell you what I found, but more importantly what I did not find on joelosteen.com.

As I open the main page of the Joel Osteen Ministries website, the first thing I see, under the big banners for his books, events, and his magazine, “Hope for Today”, is a blog post by Victoria Osteen. There are about two paragraphs and then a “read more” button to see the rest of the blog. When I click “read more”, I then notice another heading on the right side of the page that says, “This Week’s Inspiration,” in which it reads, “Joel Osteen Ministries provides the opportunity to find hope and inspiration wherever you are, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Well that’s great Joel, but I already have the Holy Bible, which is the inspired, immutable, inerrant, Holy Word of God. I have so many copies, in fact, that I could have a book at home, at work, and in my car. I also have the Bible on my phone in a variety of translations, so yes, I’d say that I already have an opportunity to find hope and inspiration wherever I am, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In fact, even if I am not around a bible, and I can’t find my phone, my consistent study of the Word has brought me closer to the Lord, “’I have stored up your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.’ (Psalm 119:11, ESV)” and I can go to Him in prayer at any time, so I don’t need to look for Him on a website. “’I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.’ (Proverbs 8:17, ESV)”.

Speaking of the bible, I am noticing a lack of bible references and the name Jesus in my overview of this webpage. So I continue to look further. At this point, I will click the “About” button on the top of the page and “Voila!” the name Jesus is there at the end of the first paragraph, under the heading, “Hope for today”. It reads, “This ministry is committed to helping people from all walks of life experience the unconditional love and unending hope found only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” It goes on to say in the second paragraph, “We are using television, internet, podcasts and other new technologies to reach others with the Good News of the gospel.” Now we seem to be going in the right direction. People need to hear the gospel message!

Now I will click on the link “Messages”, and the first thing that catches my eye is a donation section with the first amount being $125, the next amount being $75, then $50, then $25, and of course, “other”, where you can put in the amount of your choosing. It is a very prominent display and to the left you see a video of the latest message. Below the video link, it says, “Select a message below to watch or receive for a gift of any amount.” Then there is a list of all the previous messages that Joel has given, a total of 718. Of course, when you click on any message on the list, you don’t get the whole message. What you get is a summary of the message that may or may not have a snippet of a bible verse or it has his interpretation of a chapter in the bible, and in order to receive the entire message on CD or DVD, you must send your “investment” of at least $1.

I need only to read a few summaries to see Joel taking the passages or even the entire chapter out of context, twisting it to say what he wants it to say. One example is his message, “Yes is Coming”. My first question is, “What is yes?”, because apparently, it is coming, and I would like to know what exactly is coming. I know Jesus is coming someday. Could Jesus be this “yes” that Joel is referring to? Let’s find out what the summary says, shall we? According to Joel, we need to “get ready because yes is coming!” He also states, “God has already set a date to bring His promises to pass in your life.” Sounds very exciting, right? Tell us more, Joel! “But there is one thing God needs from you, and that is your yes.”

Wait a minute! Let’s think about this one. God needs something from me, so that He can bring His promises to me? I must be very powerful for my words to enable God to do something in my life. I was under the impression that God can do anything. Oh wait, He can!

Moving right along, the summary continues, “Second Corinthians 1 says, ‘God’s yes and our yes together make a sure thing.’” Hmmm. Is that what it says? We need to look over that one because that really makes no sense at all, and since Joel didn’t reference a specific verse in the chapter, I will need to find the verse that mentions the word “yes”. Here we go, Second Corinthians 1, verses 17-19 reads, “Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it is always ‘Yes.’”

Another word for vacillating is fickle, or unstable. His question was rhetorical as he was declaring that he means what he says, and he speaks of God’s trustworthiness. So, I’m still not seeing the “Yes is coming” that Joel is talking about. What I am seeing is Paul talking about Jesus being a faithful witness, and when you read the rest of the chapter, it tells about two gifts we receive when we become believers and that we belong to Him. It is a very good chapter about God’s promise, but it does not say that my “yes” and God’s “yes” together will make something happen or that it is “a sure thing”.

Now I want to get back to the web page of Joel Osteen ministries. After seeing the summary “Yes is Coming” and how there is no mention of Jesus at all, I want to look at some other titles on this list of 717 messages. I see the word destiny, blessings, peace, but I don’t see the name Jesus in the titles. In the message summaries, I see a lot of promises that God is about to (fill in the blank), peace is coming when I (fill in the blank), God wants me to do (fill in the blank) so that He can pour out His blessings. In fact, I went through 16 message summaries before I even saw the name Jesus. Now I’m curious, does he have the name Jesus in any of the 717 message titles available for purchase, because let’s face it, these aren’t free, you must send an “investment” to the ministry.

I will now go to the search bar above the list of messages, and type in the name, Jesus. I hit the enter button on my computer and ta-da! Nothing. I type in the word salvation, nothing. I type in the word gospel, nothing.
So here is what I did not find on joelosteen.com. I did not find Jesus. I literally could not find the name Jesus in the titles of 718 messages that he has made over the course of almost 14 years! I did not find the word salvation, I did not find the gospel message. The website lies, and then asks for money. They offer books with the titles, “Love Your Life”, “The Power of I Am”, and “Words That Win”, but no Jesus. There are many messages, but not The Message. They offer words, but not The Word. If you’re looking for Salvation, you won’t find it on joelosteen.com. You just need to dust off your Holy Bible and spend time with Jesus every day!