I am not really a fan of Joel Osteen. I've never been to one of his services, I've never read one of his books, I've probably watched only 2-3 of his TV programs during my lifetime. It's possible that I don't agree with everything he teaches, but I'll never know as I don't really know what he teaches. Yet, taking all of this into consideration, I totally disagree with all of the negative press that this guy has come under during this terrible storm devastation in Houston. I find the treatment of Brother Joel reprehensible!
Here is my suggestion for those who constantly oppose Osteen .....LEAVE JOEL ALONE, BUT....But, examine yourself and remove the beam from your own eye!
I'm suggesting that those who would attack another Believer so violently, especially during the time of such a national disaster as we have witnessed this week, are actually pretty sick puppies! As I stated above, I'm not a fan of Osteen, but I've heard that very positive things have come from his church and ministry. Those who attend his church and follow his ministry love him. Of course, the critics state that he preaches a "feel good Gospel." Well, so do I! And....I'll never stop doing that! What's the alternative...that God wants us to feel bad? Or, in light of Osteen's critics decrying his "prosperity message," just maybe God wants us all broke! Of course his critics also scream that he only teaches God's love. Again, so do I! Is God the God of hate? Come on....give me a break!
Here is my suggestion to all of Joel Osteen's critics...."And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5 NLT)
Last year, during my three week hospital recuperation following major cancer surgery, I had plenty of time to think. I spent many hours with God, contemplating Him and His workings in my life. I soon discovered that many of the things that I thought I had completely understood were not actually so. I came home from the hospital thinking that there were many things that I no longer had my pat, theological perfect answers to. I found out that I didn't know about God as much as I thought that I did. What a shock!!
There have been two times in my ministry, one years ago, and one about 6 years ago, that I had to stand before my congregation and tell them that I had been teaching them wrong things and that I was sincerely sorry for doing so. In case you've never been there, that is a very difficult thing for a pastor to do. We all know that we pastors have ALL the answers to every question! Right? NOT! At least I don't have all of the answers anymore!
Yesterday, on Facebook, I posted a rather controversial post. I post a daily, "Grace Nugget of the Day." Granted, most of these go against the traditional stream of Church thinking. Believe me, I'm fully aware of the fact that many people don't like my posts, most do not really understand what I'm trying to say. However, this one guy replied to my post in a rather nasty, know it all way. Everything I would write he would counter, with an argumentative attitude. Look, I am in complete awareness that some will not understand or like what I post, preach or write in a book. I know that going in! However, I always tell people that I'm totally OK with anyone who disagrees with me. My standard is when a person crosses the line and becomes nasty, that's when I take action and in the case of Facebook I Unfriend/Block them. Go ahead...please feel free to disagree with me. Ask me some legitimate questions and I will try my best to answer, as best as I can. Just don't get nasty or you're gone! Those are my rules and I stick with them!
By the same token, I feel sorry about people like this argumentative guy, I really do! His mind is closed; he knows it all! He's an expert and He made certain to tell me that he was and that I was promoting destructive error to the Body of Christ.
My point here is that a closed, know it all mindset, is poison to us! I wrote on today's "Grace Nugget," ..."There are those who know it all. Others are seekers. The seekers shall see God!" Please continue to keep an open mind about the things of God. Granted you will find some things that you just don't or can't agree with. That's OK! Continue to practice "eating the meat and spitting out the bones." A closed, know it all mind will wither away and never prosper!
Years ago we used to teach a lot from Deuteronomy chapter 28 which deals with the blessings and cursings that come from either obeying or not obeying God. The bottom line was that if you walked in full obedience to God, He would bless you. If you didn't He would curse you. Wow! Talk about a lot of condemnation!
Verse 15 states, "But if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am given you today, all of these curses will come and overwhelm you:" Then in verses 16-19 some of the curses are listed. They include:
Your towns and fields will be cursed
Your fruit and bread will be cursed
Your children will be cursed
The offspring of you herds and flocks will be cursed
and...wherever you go and whatever you do will be cursed! And the list goes on in the following verses.
Wow! Talk about a heavy trip!
I'm ashamed to say, that I too used to preach this stuff! My, how I've changed! In the past I was pretty religious and didn't have the foggiest idea of what New Covenant Life was. Later, I learned some rules of proper Bible interpretation. Rule #1 is: Who is it written to? So, the question here is; are the verses written in Deuteronomy 28: 15-68 written to us, living on this side of the cross? The answer is....NO! Yet, many in the Church still teach that they are, and if we don't live just right God will punish us with a very severe curse. I am calling this teaching out, even though I used to teach it, as rubbish!
Instead, here is what I now teach: Galatians 3:13, "But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law (Dt. 28: 15-68). When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
Friends... No matter what you've been told and no matter how difficult the battle is that you are now involved in....GOD HAS NOT CURSED YOU! That means that nothing you have done, even while you were in complete rebellion to God, has prompted Him to place a curse on your life! You are NOT cursed, no matter what! Therefore, stop believing that you have been cursed by God. That dog no longer hunts!
Today the world will experience an event that hasn't been witnessed in nearly 100 years, a total solar eclipse. Parts of the United States will see total darkness, lasting over 2 minutes. The rest of us will observe a great reduction in sunlight. I believe in our part of Florida we will see about a 70% eclipse.
The last time something like this occurred was June of 1918. The interesting fact is that during this time the world was in devastation as the Great War, WW1 was in its final days. The war ended in November of that year, but at the time of the eclipse the trench warfare in France was totally gruesome. Thousands would daily die a horrible death. Then about 20 years later Hitler came to power and the condition of the world got much worse. Remember, never forget, the Jewish death camps! Yet, through all of this and many other terrible, horrible events of world history, the eclipse of 1918 was not God's signal to the world that He was going to pour judgment upon it!
For the past several months Christians have been advancing, through the power of the Internet, the theory that today's eclipse is going to be a signal from God of pending judgment upon the world, especially the United States. Often words from Jewish rabbis are being quoted, words often based upon ancient writings found in the Torah. Linked with past teachings on Blood Moons, etc., today's judgment theorists are convinced that God is angry with the world and His judgment is about to fall upon it. I just posted a few words on my Twitter account saying, "If U'r understanding about how God treats the future world is based on teachings from rabbis quoting Torah U are living under wrong covenant!"
Jesus told us that He came, "Not to judge the world but to save it." (John 3:17) You see, we live under the New Covenant of God's Grace. The judgment has been completed at the cross. It was there that God judged us and found us all NOT GUILTY! Now, that's the Good News.
Therefore, instead of judgment I see something else about to occur. It is a great spiritual awakening! Historically, these events have taken place around the world for thousands of years. They usually show up as, "Suddenlies" and the timing usually is when bad events are happening. I could go into tons of Church History here to prove my point. However, I suggest that you dig into it yourself and see how correct I am.
I am a product of the great Charismatic Renewal. I came into faith in Christ in 1973. This Renewal was coming to an end, but how well I remember those days! The US was in a total mess. We had riots in the streets as a result of our involvement in Viet Nam. Drug use was out of control, we had experienced race riots in just about every major city, we had a major hurricane hit the east coast of Florida, killing many and in the midst of it all America experienced a "Suddenly!" Thousands, actually many tens of thousands came pouring into the ranks of new Christ Believers. I remember our church taking in 20-30 new members every Sunday. People were excited about God! Our church had Sunday morning and evening services. I remember us leaving our Bibles on our seats Sunday morning just so we had a seat Sunday evening as during that service there was standing room only! My how times have changed!
My prediction is that another Great Renewal/Awakening is about to hit America and the world! However, for you Old Timers, don't get too excited as you will be hit with a "Suddenly" too. That's right....This time it won't be "your Mother's Awakening!" Everything is now being set up for a giant Grace Awakening! Yes, this time the focus won't be on repentance from all of our many sins, but rather a focus aimed totally at the awesome love of God established here on earth by the death of Christ on the cross. The battle cry of this Grace Awakening will be.... "IT IS FINISHED!"
Now, just possibly today's total solar eclipse may be a sign from God; not of judgment, but of His love for mankind! You and I who walk and live in Radical Grace are being prepared now as preachers of God's righteousness and reconciliation. Friend, your ministry is about to bloom!
I most likely will be addressing some of these thoughts more in the days ahead. However, suffice it to say we are about to enter "THE CHURCH'S FINEST HOUR!"
Just for transparency sake, I used to consider myself a Charismatic and even a Pentecostal. I no longer do so! Since God has opened my eyes to the wonderful truths of New Covenant Grace, I now just consider myself a Christian. Or better yet, simply a Believer! At this time I don't want to go into all of the reasons about why I left the Charismatic/Pentecostal ranks, other than to say..."Yet, I show you a better way!" Therefore, giving you a hint at my background, gives me the right to speak on this subject because in my past, "I've been there, done that and even bought the T-shirt! I even have the battle scars to prove it too.
Soon, September 15, 2017, I will celebrate my first year anniversary of being cancer free. It was on that date that I underwent radical surgery to remove a mouth full of cancer. During nearly a year of prior illness and post-surgery recovery my life, especially my walk with God, underwent some dramatic transformation. Previously I had been given wonderful revelations of New Covenant Grace, but my eyes were really opened as a result of the cancer battle. You might say, God used the sickness to make lemonade from a bunch of lemons. As a result of this mighty trip, I wrote a new book, When God Doesn't Heal: Avoiding Fear, Shame and Condemnation. This book is now with the publisher and I hope that it will be released in a month or so. In the book I share some of my battle with cancer and my recovery from it. I speak of the miracle that God performed in my life; even though it didn't come the way I wanted it to come, it did indeed come! I also share the many abuses that Believers face at the hands of very bad teaching that has spread like wild fire thought the Church of Jesus Christ, especially in the midst of the ranks of Charismatics and Pentecostals. This bad teaching leads its adherents into the congregation of those suffering from fear, shame and condemnation.
It kind of works like this: I'm sick. Therefore, by quoting enough scripture, speaking enough positive confessions, not believing the doctor's reports but only the Word, by eradicating all sin and unbelief in my life, etc., etc., (the list goes on and on), God will heal me and I'll receive my miracle. Friends...in case you haven't discovered it yet, this is all bad teaching. I call it, "Charismatic Witchcraft." It will all lead you into fear, shame and condemnation. Thankfully, in the midst of this some are healed. Praise God for that! However, many, actually very many, are not healed and they suffer sickness, disease and even death. Often these people feel that they have failed God, have not measured up and suffer not only the sickness and disease, but also from the fear, shame and condemnation that will always follow some sort of man-made law that by following will make God pleased.
Here is an example of this Witchcraft: Just overnight I received the following in an email from a friend. She wrote....
"I received an email from my friend of 35 years who wrote that she had taken a fall in March of this year and is still not walking properly. I called her and was quite perplexed while listening to her. She told me she is careful what she says as satan can hear every word and that can make matters worse for her She said she had only told me and another person and this other person kept asking questions and didn’t take no for an answer. I believe it is fear based and yet her Pastor teaches that people are to be careful with what they speak."
My friend is correct. This person is suffering from an attack of "Charismatic Witchcraft!" This is a prime of example of someone living under fear, shame and condemnation. This is NOT based upon the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and we all must reject such teaching and declare it false. Witchcraft feeds on fear!
I'd like to go deeper into this. I do so in my new book. In the meantime, I pray that you too embrace the freedom that we have in Christ and no matter what, know that you are God's favorite child, no matter what you are presently going through!
Do some abuse Grace? That question is about the same as, "Is the Pope Catholic?" By all means some abuse Grace! However, the key word here is, "some!" To say that the message of New Covenant Grace gives all of it's adherents a "license to sin" is just plain foolish! I am so much more concerned about those who teach a mixed message of Law and Grace than I am about the few who abuse Grace. My friend, Mark Drake, probably one of the best "Grace teachers" alive today once said, "I'm not afraid that people will "abuse" grace. I am afraid they will never know the power of grace and keep being abused by fear, shame and condemnation!"
I am in full agreement with his statement!
You may or may not recall the term, "Wildfire." This term was used in the early Pentecostal days, when things seemed to get out of control during meetings. Back in the day, Pentecostals were known for their very emotional meetings. I guess that today, there isn't so much worry about "Wildfire" as it seems that the Pentecostal movement has toned down their emotionalism. However, those who tried to put out "Wildfire" in meetings would often quote I Corinthians 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order." Of course the problem with attaching that verse to the goings on in meetings is that who's opinion of what is decent and orderly will be used? My opinion of what is decent and orderly may be far different than yours. See the problem here?
So, today when someone within the "Grace Movement" gets a little off balance on their doctrine, it's pretty difficult for someone to reel them in without pushing the line of bringing them back under some sort of law, thus leading to fear, shame and condemnation!
Here's what's going on....Many within the "Grace Camp" today have come out of very abusive situations within the Traditional Church. It's like they have escaped the prison bars and now are flying free for the first time in their Christian lives. A bird that escapes its bird cage will fly wild for a long while until it eventually calms down and discovers that it can eat, breathe and even fly a normal bird type life. I kinda think that is the same today. What some may think is "Wildfire" within the "Grace Camp" will eventually be toned down into very healthy Grace living. Watch it... I know I'm right on here! Yet, there is another thing to explore .....
Some of my Grace friends don't like me using the word, "Balance." I've actually been accused of trying to bring people back under some type of law when I've used that word in the past. However, "balance," in the way I use it, has nothing to do with law, but rather common sense. Yesterday, Corinne and I viewed a video message from a well known Grace teacher, one that I greatly respect and agree with. In his Sunday morning message to his church he was pretty emphatic in declaring that we must preach the message that Paul preached. I totally, 100%, agree with that statement. Early in my entry into the revelations of New Covenant Grace, I heard the Lord speak to me many times, "Make sure you preach the message that Paul preached!" Paul is the guy that God used to bring the message of the New Covenant into the Early Church. His message was way different than the other Leaders of the day. They were mostly keeping the Church Jewish, only adding Jesus to the mixture. Paul came along, after receiving direct revelations from Christ Himself (See Galatians chapter 1), and lead the Leaders and eventually the Church into an entirely different direction. Therefore, Paul is the guy we in the "Grace Movement" really look to.
In the midst of all of his New Covenant teaching and direction for the Church he also brought a message of "balance." The other day, after reading several Facebook posts that included lots of cussing I posted on my FB Timeline how we might wish to tone down the bad language. It was mostly accepted. However, there were some of my Grace Friends who accused me of trying to bring people back under the Law. Of course, that was never my intention. I just think that a lot of cussing is done in poor taste. Now, I'm certainly not a prude in this area. I've been known to say a few colorful words myself. But when the "F-Word" is used over and again (by the way, a word I never use), I feel that it's pushing the envelope a little too far. It's not taking the "Lord's name in vain" or anything like that, but to me it's spoken in bad taste. I realize that the word is used more and more today, more than ever. Just watch a movie and see for yourself. Maybe I'm old fashioned here, but I find that word is not socially acceptable, no matter how many movies it's used in, and those who use it do so in bad taste.
You know, I've a feeling that Paul would agree with me here. I'm thinking that there are so many who oppose us, why do we go out of our way to give them ammunition to use against us? In other words, if they think we are lawless and full of sin, why don't we temper our life styles and prove them wrong? Am I putting people back under law here? I don't think so; I'm just trying to promote a little common sense.
Here's what Paul said about issues like this:
I Cor. 10:23, "You say, "I am allowed to do anything"- but not everything is good for you. You say, "I am allowed to do anything"- but not everything is beneficial."
I Cor. 8: 9-13, "But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you - with your "superior knowledge" -eating in the temple of an idol, won't they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for who Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live - for I don't want to cause another believer to stumble."
So, do you think that Paul was trying to put people under the Law here? I don't! I think that he was trying to bring some balance and common sense into the Church. I'm also kinda thinking that it's time that some of us "Grace teachers" begin to do the same thing. Maybe then, some others within the Mixed Church will be more open to the great freedom that we are enjoying.
Sorry about the long post here. But I'm feeling that this is a very important message for the Church!
Over the past few weeks I've been pondering about "faith failures." Yesterday, while teaching in our church, New Covenant Grace Fellowship in Inverness, FL, I was mentioning, "Grace failures." To be honest, I really don't like either term as I'm not really too certain that they are possible, at least from God's point of view. However, we don't look at things from God's point of view all of the time. Do we? In God's eyes Grace and faith really can never fail. The problem is that we think they can because we have humanized both things. That's where the problem comes in!
I guess, "faith failure" is a little more palatable to me than "grace failure." Yet, even faith cannot really fail as God gives it to us, either in the form of a "measure" or a "gift," or both and no matter what the TV evangelist says, it's not up to us to work it up in order to get something from God!
In my soon to be released new book, When God Doesn't Heal: Avoiding Fear, Shame and Condemnation, I really hit faith thing pretty hard. So many have been taught and believe that in order to have God heal them they have to have to apply the correct amount of faith. So, if they aren't healed or healing seems delayed to them, they come under fear, shame and condemnation because they don't have enough faith. See the problem? Maybe you or someone you know has experienced that. I praise God for all who are supernaturally healed, but some have not been, some have even died while waiting for their "miracle."
However, the "faith failure" that I wish to address today deals with the battles in life that we all must face from time to time. In the early days of my Christianity we were taught to witness to others by telling them something like, "Just come to Jesus and all of your troubles will end!" What a bunch of horse feathers! It was a down-right lie! So often I found that a person's problems only intensified after they began placing faith in Christ.
We have found that understanding the concepts of New Covenant Grace will transform a person's life. Yet, that understanding has to go much deeper than just having a head knowledge of grace. It has to be placed in a person's heart by a direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. Without that, as soon as a new storm brews, the head knowledge will be blown out the window and the person will crash and burn. This is a "faith or grace failure."
If I asked every Christian that I meet over the next week, "Do you understand grace?" They will all shout back to me, "CERTAINLY!" After all, everyone knows (with their mind) that grace is, "God's unmerited favor." Every pastor was taught to teach that in their seminary "Grace 101" class. Like parrots they regurgitate what they have taught, teaching their flock the same wrong information. When the winds blow in life, "God's unmerited favor" just won't get the job done!
At these times, a person has to believe in the very depths of their gut, that Grace is actually Christ living in them, unleashing His power from within making them holy and righteous, no matter what is going on in their life. Grace is simply God's love being manifested in a person. It is a love that will never leave or forsake us, no matter what we do or don't do. We can't earn it or work hard enough to get it. It's just there....a love for the entire world!
So, if you have had a recent "faith or grace failure," please rise up, dust yourself off and go on with your life. You must fight to believe that you are the Apple of God's Eye, no matter what! See what I mean?
Recently a cable television network completed their popular, week long series, Shark Week. This series seems to draw huge ratings every year. Corinne and managed to view a couple of the programs but we were not really "hooked" on the series. Maybe it's because we are West Coast Florida residents and sharks, like gators are not really a big thing to us. A couple of years ago we drove to the coast, about 20 minutes from us, to view the sunset. We walked onto the long fishing pier near the beach in Crystal River. A guy was just completing his fishing when we were walking out onto the pier. He was walking in and we were walking out. We had just witnessed 2 manatees swimming under the pier. The fisherman shouted, "Did you see that?" A 8 foot long bull shark just swam off the end of the pier. What is interesting is that the pier is not too far from the swimming beach. So, local residents often swim with the sharks!
I think that I often swim with the sharks too. But the sharks I'm talking about are probably more dangerous than that large bull shark was. The sharks I'm talking about are sharks of religion. Some people don't really understand what it is when I speak of religion. They think that Christianity is religion, just like all of the others, Islam, Buddhist, etc. The truth is that Christianity really isn't a religion, but rather a relationship with God. At least that's the way it's supposed to be. But it seems that traditionally Christianity has turned into another religion, and that's not the way it's supposed to be!
When I speak of religion I'm speaking of a set order of doing things, religiously doing things, like a list of do's and don't s. I really don't feel like getting into the weeds on this subject today, other than to say, I've been swimming with a lot of religious sharks this week and some have tried to devour me. The neat thing is that I'm still here and am still refusing to become religious just in order to satisfy some traditional thinking people. Friends, Christ has set me free from religion. Now, I'm basking in the most awesome relationship with my God that I've ever experienced.
I have a story to tell anyone who is willing to listen. My story will completely transform your life, just like it did my life. The bottom line is that God loves you! No matter what!! Jesus died to make you holy and righteous so that you can have a perfect relationship with God. It's awesome! If you want to hear more, give me a shout! I love to talk about Jesus. The sharks don't seem to like my story, but hungry people do, and that's who I love ministering to!