Who is Your Encourager?
Last Sunday morning I was listening to Joel Osteen’s live service while I was exercising. And as I listened to his encouraging words I remember being blasted by a young woman in a Christian Facebook group a few weeks ago. Here’s how that happened: A young mom had written that she was discouraged, really down, feeling SO low… She asked the group members what they used to help encourage them and build their faith in times like hers. I replied that I turned to Joel Osteen, who I call “my cheerleader.” Another young woman contradicted what I said saying that Joel Osteen is a heretic.
Before I did anything else, I looked up the meaning of a heretic.
What is a Heretic?
I like to be accurate. I don’t like to speak on things I’m not sure about, if I can help it. So, I looked up the meaning of the word heresy (since looking up heretic only stated “one practicing heresy). It is, “belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine” – Google. So, does Joel Osteen practice heresy? Is encouraging people, raising their hope, feeding them with Scriptures that uplift heresy?
Are We Called to Be an Encourager?
Let’s look at Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
“For whatsoever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification (improvement of a person morally or intellectually) according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute (opinion or belief), if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”
So, is Joel Osteen doing these things when he preaches? I would have to say yes. He uses Scripture and uses it in a way to lift the spirits of the hearers.
My Experience with the FB Group
It has been my experience in a particular Christian woman’s Facebook group that the young women are proud and haughty and many times – most of the time – unwilling to listen to the words of older, seasoned women like me. Yet I continue to fulfill the command to me, an older woman, to “train the young women…” Scripture says that “pride commeth before the fall.” I don’t wish them to fall, I’m just quoting the Word of God. It is my hope they will learn to be humble before they fall. That is why I keep sowing the Word of God.
I did not reply to her directly because I knew her haughty, proud attitude would have just started a word war on the page (it has happened before and the admins allow the older women to be reviled – “criticized in an abusive or angrily insulting manner”). I did post something later that said that every person is given a gift, a talent, and a specific calling by God. It is very apparent that Joel Osteen has been called to encourage people. If you listen to him speak enough, at times he will say that he has NOT been called to teach the deep things, he has other people on his staff that teach the deep things, but his gift, his call, is to encourage people and give them hope. Weekly he encourages everyone to plug into the deeper groups.
Who Else was Called a Heretic?
James, the author of the Book of James, and thought to be the brother of Jesus, was called a heretic by some. When the scholars were deciding which books should be included in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, some argued that the book of James should not be included. They argued that James was teaching works would get you to heaven (heresy). This is not what James was saying. What we can see by reading the book of James is that just saying “the sinners prayer” (to use today’s vernacular) and then go on living your sinful life believing you were going to heaven is NOT enough. Many churches teach or imply that even today. James said, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Or to quote Jesus, “If you love Me, you WILL do what I say.” Jn 14
Who Does His Preaching Help?
I think about the many people in this world, myself included, who were brought up in negative situations. Some were beaten, sexually abused, told day after day after day that they were worthless and they would never make anything of themselves. Many are told by their parents that they wished the child was never born and/or they are hated. Their (our) very spirits have been crushed from a young age. They often live with little or no hope. These people, more than anybody else, need to hear encouragement like Joel Osteen preaches on a regular basis. They need hear it over and over to wash away the negativity of their past. The Word says to renew the mind with the washing of the Word and to overcome evil with good. That is what preachers who are called to be encouragers do. 1 Thes 5:14b, “encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Coming Against God’s Anointed
I am happy for those who never experienced what many of us have experienced in our life. But I am saying right now to those with a haughty spirit, those who are prideful, that the Word of God says you are not to come against God’s anointed. Regardless of what their anointing is or what their focus is, you are not to come against God’s anointed. Miriam was struck with leprosy when she spoke against Moses, God’s anointed leader of the children of Israel. Ps 105:15 states, “Do NOT touch My anointed ones, and do my prophets no harm.” Deut 25:4, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Eph 5:1 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” I Thes 5:12-13, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other…”
Where’s The Meat?
So, do I get my meat from Joel Osteen? Not usually. Do I turned to him for in-depth study of Scripture, going back to the original language? No. But without being encouraged enough to believe that God loves me regardless of what happened in my battle-scarred life the other teachings do not fall into place.
Additionally, what we see on TV, what we hear as we walk in stores, on the streets, even as we walk in our churches is mostly critical, negative, deprecating talk. It’s bad enough for those who grew up in healthy, loving, encouraging homes. But for those of us who did not, it can open wounds we thought were healed – or at least locked away. Joel Osteen teaches his congregation to walk in love, to encourage one another, and to lift one another up every time he preaches. His very life is a shining example of that command from God.
God, the Loving Father
Many people who have had bad childhoods will tell you that they cannot in their mind see God as a loving Father. They may not have any experience of a good, godly father in this life. Only the washing of the Word and the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit tells their spirit that He is. Because I have the magnet of a bad past, my mind needs to be renewed on a daily basis so I pulled away from that and see God as a loving Father. Then I can become more like Jesus every day, not more like the world. I can definitely tell when I need time with my favorite cheerleader, Joel Osteen. Then I’m ready to accept the deeper, more challenging Scriptures that tell me how to live in a way that I can make changes in my life.
I hope this has been edifying and encouraging to you today. What is your reaction? Please stay in love.
Where do you turn for encouragement? Please comment below.
This page contains an affiliate link to the book, Think Better, Live Better by Joel Osteen.