Posts Tagged ‘Victoria Osteen’

Sermon 09-07-14: “Bible Heroes, Part 5: Gideon”

September 17, 2014

superhero graphic

The people of Israel were committing idolatry at the beginning of today’s scripture. It’s not that they stopped believing in the one true God, Yahweh, but that they were adding other gods to the mix—in case Yahweh wasn’t enough for them.

Are we so different from them? We may not bend our knee and worship idols the way ancient Israel did, but we commit idolatry whenever we look to some person or thing to meet our deepest needs. What are the warning signs of this kind of idolatry? What can we do to prevent it?

In Jesus Christ, God gives us everything we need to prevent this kind of idolatry, as this sermon makes clear.

Sermon Text: Judges 6:1-27, 33-40

The following is my original sermon manuscript.

Did you hear the news? This Tuesday, Auburn graduate and Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook will announce the first entirely new product of his tenure as Steve Jobs’s successor: the product is the iWatch. Well, we don’t know for sure what it’ll be called, but we know for sure it will be a smartwatch, a powerful computer that you wear on your wrist.


Apple CEO Tim Cook

One consumer technology consultant who’s seen it told the New York Times last week: “I believe it’s going to be historic.”

And I believe I’m going to need an iWatch. But let me explain: as many of you know, I’ve recently rededicated myself to working out, getting “swole,” and at least getting in kind of shape necessary to be an American Ninja Warrior. Why are you laughing? I’m serious. And insiders say that this new iWatch will leave exercise-related products from FitBit and Nike in the dust. It will track all your footsteps, monitor your vital signs, yell at you when you reach for that extra piece of key lime pie. The new iWatch has everything an American Ninja Warrior could want.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sympathy for Victoria Osteen

September 3, 2014


Since I’ve become a pastor in charge of a church, I’ve become far more sympathetic with fellow pastors who are held up to public ridicule and scorn. It’s a tough job, being a pastor. And I’m not so different from other pastors—even the ones who have far larger flocks than I have. I feel an impulse to defend them, sympathize with them, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

For example, I like this guy, no matter what the comments section on YouTube says:

I’ve defended Mark Driscoll during his recent troubles, here and here.

And once again, I feel myself wanting to defend a fellow pastor, even if she’s the “co-pastor” of America’s largest church, her husband Joel’s Lakewood Church in Houston.

Victoria Osteen has been widely criticized and lampooned for these remarks:

I don’t disagree that Osteen is wrong here (see Dr. Gagnon’s even-handed, but substantial, criticism below, with which I agree). But let’s notice something: she’s clearly speaking extemporaneously. And God knows all of us public speakers risk saying dumb things when we do that! I perceive that she realizes (after she begins saying it) that she might be getting carried away in her enthusiasm. It happens! Notice her qualifying words: “I mean, that’s one way of looking at it”; “You’re not doing it for God, really.” I sense that she’s trying, in vain, to rein herself in.

But let’s affirm at least one small part of what she’s saying: True happiness is found in God alone. Christ promises us a full and abundant life now. Eternal life is not merely a quantity of life, but a quality of life. The New Testament urges us to be joyful no matter what circumstances we face. This implies that only in Christ will we find the spiritual resources necessary to be not merely happy, but deeply joyful: even as we face possible martyrdom, as Paul was in Philippians.

Given all that—not to mention the prospect of heaven or hell when we die—how is following Jesus as his disciple not, at least in part, a matter of self-interest?

So, to her point, even as we love and serve Christ, we are also doing it for ourselves.

Why not be charitable and assume this was her main point? After all, she says this is “one way of looking at it.” It’s possible she isn’t ruling out that other way, which of course is far more important. So it’s not either/or; it’s both/and. Read the rest of this entry »