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Joel Osteen is one of the most inspiring preachers of our time. His commitment to blessing the lives of the down-trodden is a voice from the wilderness. It is fresh and sustaining. Jesus once asked the Apostle Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter replied, “of course I love you.” Jesus asked the same question a second time and Peter answered the same. Then a third time Jesus asked Peter the same question only He did not wait for a reply. Instead, Jesus replied Himself by saying, “Peter, if you love me, feed my sheep.”
Without reservation Joel Osteen feeds God’s sheep. Weekly he brings the messages that God has not forgotten you, God is a good God, God has a plan for your life, forget what has happened and look for what is going to happen with God, stop looking down and look up for your answers, every hardship is an open door for God to bring you into a new life of blessings, thank God for the good things coming, bless your children and pray for your enemies, and love this life that God has given you.
Osteen’s critics say he serves a soft gospel that it is pleasant to the ear. In part they may be right. Osteen is a talented speaker; he is a master at captivating his audience. But, where the critics miss the mark is obedience. It may bring instant pleasure to the listener to hear the refreshing words of how much God loves and wants to bless His people, but conforming to the truth of the message is a laborious job. Transplanting the inspiring messages into daily action is the hard work.
As a young girl on my Grandparents’ farm in Tennessee, I would work all weekend hoeing, weeding, and staking plants in a two acre garden. There were seven acres of potatoes harvested yearly. Hogs were slaughtered, dressed, butchered, seasoned and wrapped for storage. We made sausage and dug peanuts in the winter and sold our corn, tomatoes and watermelons in the summer. We took the pigs and cattle to the market for sale. We worked hard even as children. My mother worked in a non-air conditioned factory and my father was a mechanic. Hard work was part of our lives, but the hardest work I ever did was conforming to the word of God. Making daily changes in my mind, speech and attitude to conform to the image that God has for His children is no simple task. Fighting my own image of defeat and accepting and expecting God’s plan for success has been a great struggle.
Osteen does not preach a watered-down or soft gospel. It is an aggressive hard hitting truth. He teaches millions to believe that God will lift you up above your circumstances. He comes from a heritage of a full gospel background and stands on the foundation that miracles happen everyday as God moves mountains to bless His people. Adversity is turned to advantages, and “beauty from ashes.”
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