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    Posted June 20, 2013 by
    Fernandina Beach, FL, Florida

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    Jonathan J Tibbs: Just as I Am...A Story of Joel Osteen...

    JACKSONVILLE FL - Joel Osteen reaches the world for those who believe in a greater existence in hope, faith and love. (2013)

    “I talk from the pulpit like I talk to a person,” Osteen said. “When I prepare messages I like to take the practical approach. I don’t think of talking to the masses. I think about it as, ‘If I talked to two or three people, how would I talk to them?’’ “

    The answer to that question: Not likely preachy. Osteen takes time out after every public appearance tries to talk to members of his audience but it’s seldom preachy, he said.

    “I don’t want to come off as real religious,” Osteen said. “I think that turns some people off. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. Some people aren’t real religious. I’m just talking about a relationship with God.”

    Osteen often describes himself as a happy person, and insists he would be happy even if he was in financial straits.

    “Part of my key message is that you are supposed to choose each day what kind of day you are going to have,” he said. “It’s a choice we can all make. In Christian life we all have difficulties... I don’t do anything that I don’t preach from the pulpit. You get up every day and thank God. I’m grateful I’m alive and grateful for what I have. We’re not jumping up and down but we are content.”

    Since Jesus himself came here on earth to save, to cleanse us of our sins which includes our bad behaviors; People therefore should feel relieved and good that their shortcomings will not haunt them anymore when they accept the gospel of Jesus. They feel delivered from guilty acts, that was what Jesus came for, to set us free and not feel condemn. Jesus wants us to live in peace and not feel stressed and worried. It says in the book of John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Is this not what Joel preaches in most of his sermons about being at peace with ourselves?

    Honestly, the enemy does not like seeing Jesus followers being happy and all the time positive. Joel Osteen's sermons are mostly based on being positive and when people are positive they tend to feel good about themselves. Paramountly, people feel great and are self confident which means peace. Isn't peace and freedom the qualities of life we all need? Why live in bondage when you have been set free. That is why God uses people like Joel Osteen to remind us of the abundant life we have and should enjoy without being limited by the worldly thinking.

    For example, Luke 8:24-25, "Master, master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" He asked his disciples. From this piece of verses, Jesus in all sounds to need of us to be calm, be at peace, not be afraid, most of all be faithful to trust in him for things to be fine. How in the world are people to feel good about themselves if facing troubles while listening to negative messages.

    "For many years, people have heard that God's mad at them... they can't live up to the standards. But our message is about the goodness of God, and it seems just that people come alive when they realize 'God is for me. He's got a plan for my life, and I can do something great. I can be who he wants me to be,'" Osteen said in an interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts.

    "I think people are used to ministers beating them over the head with condemnation," Osteen says. "The Scripture says that it's the goodness of God that causes people to repent. Jesus didn't condemn."

    “What would you think if I introduced our two children to you and they had holes in their clothes, uncombed hair, no shoes, and dirt under their fingernails? You’d probably say ‘That man is not a good father. He doesn’t take care of his children.’ Indeed, my children’s poverty would be a direct reflection on me as their dad. Similarly, when we go through life with a poverty mentality, it is not glorifying to God. It does not honor His great name. God is not pleased when we drag through life, defeated, depressed, perpetually discouraged by our circumstances. No, God is pleased when we develop a prosperous mind-set.”

    I believe that God's dream is that we be successful in our careers, and that we be able to send our kids to college. I don't mean that everyone is going to be rich, and I preach a lot on blooming where you're planted. But I don't have the mindset that money is a bad thing.

    My views may go against some of the older, traditional teachings. But I think we should have a mindset that God wants us to prosper in our relationships, our health, and our finances. God's desire is that we excel. And we see business leaders who are good strong Christians running big companies.

    The main draw is Joel Osteen, "America's pastor". He's at the edge of the stage with his glamorous wife and co-pastor, Victoria. I've watched his televised sermons, seen him on the cover of his bestselling books, and observed interviews on TV with megastars such as Larry King, Sean Hannity and Barbara Walters. Powerful politicians from both parties crave to be seen with him, just as in the past they paid homage to Billy Graham (who has endorsed Osteen). The Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, made sure to attend the grand opening of Lakewood in July 2005; Osteen in turn led the prayer during Perry's inauguration two years later. But Osteen doesn't pick political favorites; when Houston elected its first openly gay mayor this year (a Democrat), he said the prayer during her inauguration. The Clintons like to be seen worshipping at Lakewood when they're in town, and John McCain was happy to sing the praises of Osteen while campaigning in 2008. And while Obama is yet to pay a visit, last December he found the time to receive Osteen at the White House. These disparate and often opposed politicians recognize one thing: if anybody is the face of evangelical Christianity in America today, it is Joel Osteen.

    After 17 years producing the church's television program, Osteen succeeded his father on October 3, 1999, as pastor of Lakewood Church. He had only preached once in his life, the week before his father's death. Today, Lakewood Church services, led by Pastor Joel Osteen, are seen in over 100 nations around the world. Joel Osteen's first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, was released in October 2004. In December 2006, he was named one of the year's "Ten Most Fascinating People" by Barbara Walters. Former presidential candidate John McCain has described Osteen as "inspirational".

    Currently, Osteen and several Lakewood Church personnel travel across the nation, presenting programs in large arenas. The event, titled "A Night of Hope", includes worship music led by the church's music ministry, a sermon from Osteen and a testimony by his mother, Dodie. In 2007, the tour expanded to include stops in several other countries, including Canada, England, Northern Ireland and Israel. Osteen released his second book, titled Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day in October 2007, which also topped the New York Times Best Sellers List with a first printing of four million copies. Osteen told Larry King the new book will focus more on relationships and not getting stuck where we are in life. "Just my basic message of becoming all God's created you to be," he added.

    Osteen at a Nashville book signing, 18 May 2007
    Osteen's popularity led to him being featured as one of ABC News' "10 Most Fascinating People of 2006", and was named "Most Influential Christian in America" in 2006 by The Church Report.

    Jonathan J Tibbs
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