I never have had the time, inclination or stomach to watch an entire Osteen broadcast. Sometimes I would watch a bit of the music if they had someone decent, but I would always surf on whenever Victoria would come out for the warm-up to the main event. But, a few days ago I willed myself through an entire show - holy moley, me oh my, I have never heard so much bad Christian theology presented in such a short period of time. There was the usual rhapsodizing about the prosperity gospel, about "breakthrough" being right around the corner, and about a lot of things that Jesus never mentioned or if he did speak on the subject, it was diametric to what the Osteen's are spreading.
Then there was the main event [maybe they should cut back on the lights so that Joel can open his eyes a bit more]. The message was about The Hedge of Protection that G_d provides for every sincere, bible-believing, fervently praying follower of Joel, er, Jesus. If you are such a person, no harm and nothing bad can ever happen to you - but with the quick kicker that is not emphasized "without G_d's permission." The stories went on and on about how this person was spared, how that person escaped sure death, how prayers kept folks safe, and truly my heart ached for all of those good people out there who have been as faithful as the Osteen crew if not more so, who have suffered tragic losses, endured gruesome circumstances and have died terrible deaths. Of course, I guess that was with G_d's permission. Reminds me of a quote by Douglas Menuez:
"G_d has a plan for you, and it might turn out to be nasty and brief. Best to savor the tequila slowly with your compadre and continue the conversation."
My suggestion to the Osteens and the tens of thousands who pack their building and buy their tripe - spend a little more time thinking about the Sermon on the Mount and the expectations in Matthew 25 rather than looking for the big payday. Rather than praying for prosperity, they should consider this prayer:
I asked God for strength that I might achieve,
I was made weak that I might humbly obey.
I asked God for health that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked God for riches that I might be happy,
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life,
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for – but everything that I had hoped for.
And despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.