Joel Osteen lays it out for me

I signed up for Joel Osteen’s “Word of the Day” daily e-mail several months ago, just to see what kind of teachings he would pull from the Bible, and what kind of exegetical torture he would put to some of the verses. Today’s is pure, 100% typical Osteen, which I reproduce here followed by my own commentary:

Give and you shall Receive

Today’s Scripture

“God desires above all, that we prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers.” (John 3:2)

Today’s Word from Joel and Victoria

God wants you to live a life of victory. He wants you to prosper physically, spiritually, emotionally– in every area of life. God also wants you to prosper financially to fulfill the destiny He’s laid out before you.

One of the main hindrances to prosperity is selfishness. If you live life focused only on your wants and needs, you won’t be able to experience God’s best. Galatians 6:7 says, “Whatsoever a man sows that he will also reap.” In other words, in order to prosper, you must learn to be a giver. You must give of your time, energy, and resources. Just like a farmer, you must be ready and willing to plant good seeds in order to receive a good harvest. Ask the Lord to show you today how to plant the seeds of love, time, and finances you hold in your hand. Begin to plant those seeds by simply giving to others, and soon you will see the Lord’s abundant harvest of blessings

A Prayer for Today

God, it is my honor to give to others in Your name. I am blessed with so many gifts and I know that I am called to share them. My time, my talents, my resources all come from above. I will look for ways to bless others and plant the seeds of a bountiful harvest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“God desires above all, that we prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers.” (John 3:2)
—Huh? In the Bibles available to me, John 3:2 has Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. Nor is Joel’s verse found at 1 John 3:2. Joel means 3 John 2. But even here we have a discrepancy. Compare Osteen’s version to that of the King James Bible (other translations agree with the KJV):

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

“I” here is John, not “God.” Osteen has given an inaccurate paraphrase of the verse, not a citation from Scripture.

God wants you to live a life of victory. He wants you to prosper physically, spiritually, emotionally– in every area of life. God also wants you to prosper financially to fulfill the destiny He’s laid out before you.
—Great! I didn’t know Christianity was so congruent with my materialism. And I’m glad there’s someone out there with no formal theological training telling me what God wants for my life. Someone who can speak from authority and a deep knowledge of the Scriptures, like John 3:2—uh, I mean, 3 John 2.

One of the main hindrances to prosperity is selfishness. If you live life focused only on your wants and needs, you won’t be able to experience God’s best.
—And we know that “God’s best” means “big house, nice car, stylish clothes, having access to the best doctors and medicine, being really smart.” “God’s best” is so vague, it can mean anything we want, really—though it seems there must be some metaphysical difficulty with quantifying or evaluating the things of God. (Does God have a “less-than-best”?)

We also can infer from Joel’s teaching here that selfishness is one of the main causes of poverty. That scabby Lazarus in Luke 16—what a selfish loser! It’s sort of puzzling that Dives (the rich man in that parable) ends up in Hell . . . it seemed pretty clear that he was experiencing God’s best for him in this life. I’m not sure what to do with most of the book of Job, either, or Psalm 37, where good people seem to get shafted and the wicked prosper. Even though Osteen’s focus is squarely on this world, not the next, he makes no sense in today’s “Word of the day.”

Galatians 6:7 says, “Whatsoever a man sows that he will also reap.” In other words, in order to prosper, you must learn to be a giver. You must give of your time, energy, and resources. Just like a farmer, you must be ready and willing to plant good seeds in order to receive a good harvest. Ask the Lord to show you today how to plant the seeds of love, time, and finances you hold in your hand.
—It’s nice how Joel breaks it down into simple terms, especially seeing as terms like “sowing” and “reaping” are so alien to me, a 21st-century urbanite. And thank God he got the verse citation right this time; but for a more contextual meaning, Galatians 6:8 should probably be quoted here, too: “because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit.” It’s not immediately apparent how “finances” fits in with “things of the spirit.”

Begin to plant those seeds by simply giving to others, and soon you will see the Lord’s abundant harvest of blessings
—When one is moved by the Spirit, one has no time for trivial things like periods at the ends of sentences.

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26 Responses to “Joel Osteen lays it out for me”

  1. Jim Says:

    Oof, how dare you! HOW DARE YOU! Your temerity is unwelcomed my friend. When ol’ Joel (hey, that rhymes) is waxing poetic about planting and harvesting and all things agriLord, terminal punctuation simply isn’t necessary Mr. Osteel can’t be bothered with proper citations and the what not. That’s the beauty of the Internet (no pesky copy editors), all things grammatical becomes much less important than getting one’s message out to the world, even if it is inaccurate on more than one level.

  2. Mark Says:

    It reminds me of the troubles that these “Yuppie Churches” have with Matthew 19:24 (the camel through the eye of a needle)… How could God not want us to drive BMWs? Does Lakewood Church have a day spa?

  3. Brian Says:

    If periods were so important, God would have made it one of the commandments.

  4. Daisy Says:

    Good morning,

    what a great book “Su mejor vida ahora” (in spanish..jeje)…my name is Daisy Galo, I am from El Salvador (Central America) and i would like to recieve daily your comments to my email

    God Bless you!

  5. Subcomandante Marcos Says:

    Well, I am so glad that you are spreading Osteen’s positive message to our friends in Latin America!! What a great service!

    Hasta la victoria siempre!! Con todos los Osteenistas!!

    Y para los companeros, el Himno Osteenista!!

    Vamos, vamos, vamos, vamos adelante
    Para que salgamos en la lucha avante
    Porque nuestra Patria grita y necesita
    De todo el esfuerzo de los osteenistas!!

    Subcomandante Marcos

  6. Curly Says:

    Hey Subcomandante,

    This is Amurrica. Take yer crazy furren language talk elsewhere, huh? It’s my job to inspire my Latin American readership. And I seem to be able to do that by using misunderstood English. Next thing you know, the ‘Couch will be generating so much buzz in the South, regimes will fall. Oh yeah.

  7. Dawn Nelson Says:

    Dear Mr. Osteen.

    I watch your service every morning at 7:30 on channel 11.
    Your words of speech inspired me. There is no other church service that l love like yours.

    From Dawn Nelson

  8. Mark Says:

    I just overheard one of my employees talking about her daily commute to work listening to the positive message of Joel Osteen! Of course, I basically lost it, then came back to your blog to find this nice smackdown of Osteen’s creepy manipulations. I might need to print it out for her…

    But now I think that some of these people think that you, Curly, are in fact Joel Osteen! How cool is that?

  9. Curly Says:

    Ha, yes . . . Dawn Nelson seems to think so. Dawn’s pretty Joel-centric, no? I love that phrase she uses, “words of speech.” Can someone please deconstruct that, or do *something* with it?

  10. Don H Says:

    Never really heard much of Joel Osteen and then saw the “60 Minutes & Larry King” interviews this week, promoting his new book of course, and to no surprise, another false teacher fleecing the masses.

  11. angllhugnu2 Says:

    Curly, you stated, “It’s not immediately apparent (to you) how “finances” fits in with ‘things of the spirit.’

    Well, what we will we do! What we wish we won’t. If we believe all is sinfulness and suffering, then we will to do those things that will bring such outcomes. BUT, if we wish we could be just like Jesus and do the things Jesus did to heal others…Well, it simply remains a dream until you put into motion the will to be such. Touching the true spirit of the blessings and gifts provided to you by The Father, deep within, allows you access to experience the enormous wealth of possibility into a world waiting for you to do so.

    For many, the words “wealth” and “inheritance” are frightening. Many avoid them, even when they are God-related because most people have long been convinced they are inadequate members of the body of Christ. Much of this is the fruit of having been called a sinner for centuries. Osteen is simply reversing the conversation where sin no longer gets the power of his attention…or center stage. The more attention you pay the illusions of sin, the less power of persuasiveness its lie possess. And, conversely the more attention we pay to the obvious sense of greatness we have been granted freely by a God that loves us, the greater chance we can enjoy, really enjoy, the life we have before us.

    Now, I know all this seems a bit difficult to swallow, and that would be expected. In your own time, in your own moments of grace with The Father that loves you dearly, you have come to know, you presently are experiencing, and will experience many occasions in the future where you will feel that deep connection of the kingdom’s richness because that is what you willed to discover.

    You are a great man! We all know it!

    Live it, love it, and embrace it….it’s quite okay to be where you are right now!

    AngllhugnU2
    Author of IM with God

  12. Curly Says:

    According to what you are saying (if I am understanding you rightly), Jesus himself was off base because he talked too much about sin. If we don’t talk about it, it isn’t there? That’s perhaps a “crude” version of what I’m reading in your comment; I invite clarification if it’s inaccurate.

  13. angllhugnu2 Says:

    I believe we all can agree helping another to feel better about their lives comes with its rewards. One, you feel good about helping someone. Two, you feel good about having made a choice that says something about how you see yourself; an influence in creating for another a moment of happiness.

    Now, if you decided to focus on your message of geniunely helping more folks, while you might with some resistence of others who are not as confident about how you communicate your message, speaking your message would come with its rewards. Some of that reward could come in the form of a financial gain. You message could be of any concern from how to perform on a football field to how one succeeds in school to make a better grade. On the whole, your focus is to send a message of improvement and forward movement toward a real and genuine happiness.

    Conversely, if I were to communicate a message of help for the sole purpose of asserting my superiority or self-interest, then my reasoning is flawed. In this instance, I am focusing not on helping another achieve excellence. I am helping someone focus on their inabilities and lack. The only outcome of such a focus is failure in both the potential for a learning creating a lasting relationship with another.

    In all of what we do we need to ask of ourselves “What is it we will to accomplish?” If we will to avoid sinfulness, we will create moments of sinfulness to avoid. If we will to meet our tried and true God-given gifts to know happiness, we will learn from our mistakes in a effort do what Jesus would.

    AngllhugnU2
    Author of IM with God

  14. Curly Says:

    Well, I’m glad you are focusing on the positive.

  15. angllhugnu2 Says:

    Well, in all reality Life is ONLY what we would call positive. That which is negative are delusional moments we hope to make something from nothing. When we finally realize something only can bring about something else that is real…we come to correct our mistake and enjoy that which is good, real, honest, whole and magnificent.

    All that sounds a little pie in the skyish….However, if you look about you it happens with far more frequency than we give it credit. For the most part we call it moments of luck…or a miracle.

    Have a great day Curly!

  16. Genericman Says:

    Isn’t it amazing that even after Jim Bakker, Robert Tilton and all the others that there are so many people ready to fall for this whole “Blab it, Grab it” doctrine?

  17. Curly Says:

    “Blab it . . .” — Ha, that’s a new one to me.

  18. barbie Says:

    i just love the way mr. joel osteen preech..me and my mom used to watch him..and trully it can enlighten one’s soul and mind.. everytime we listen to his powerful messages for the people, it makes us feel that GOD is really great and awesome..

    just love watching his show..

    thank u so much for the inspiring messages you have shared for the people….it can trully help a lot..

  19. Curly Says:

    Hi Barbie,

    I AM NOT JOEL OSTEEN.

    Later,
    Curly

  20. ken Says:

    i also love the way your teeth look, mr. osteen. how do you make them shine liek that?? trully you are the best.

  21. Curly Says:

    That’s Osteel to you, boy.

  22. EUNICE MUKEI Says:

    i would like to be receiving the word of the day through my email address.it has inspired me alot.God bless you

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