Thursday, December 6, 2007

A new respect for Joel Osteen

Okay, I don't agree with all he says but I won't go so far as to call him evil either. Joel Osteen does have a HUGE church but he doesn't seem to be in it for the money as I've heard many Churched and Unchurched people accuse him of doing. Read the following:

[Osteen] has not taken a salary from his Houston megachurch for two years. He owns one house — the same one he and his wife, Victoria, have lived in for 13 years — and until recently he drove a 9-year-old car he inherited from his late father. Osteen pays his own hotel bills, and there is no private jet.

Although the upbeat minister does take collections at services, netting an estimated $43 million a year, Osteen does not ask for money on his broadcasts, which reach an estimated 7 million viewers weekly in the U.S. and 100 other countries. Nonetheless, an additional $30 million comes through the mail. His most recent book deal earned him a $13 million advance.

“We make plenty of money from our books,” said Osteen, 44. “But we just live normal lives. We try to be conservative and honor God with our life and with our example.”

Osteen refuses to condemn the targets of Grassley’s inquiry, or Richard Roberts, who quit as president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., amid charges that he used school funds and facilities for his family.

“While I never like to hear negative things about friends and other ministers, I choose to believe the very best in them,” Osteen said.

Osteen leads the 48,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston. Services border on the nonsectarian, with no crosses in evidence. Osteen’s theology is more inspirational than theological, with a strong emphasis on self-help, in the feel-good tradition of Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Osteen speaks from a lectern he prefers to call a “podium,” rather than a “pulpit.” His books are filled with lots of exclamation points, but the word Jesus rarely appears.

Osteen’s first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, sold millions of copies. His latest, Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, is on The New York Times best-seller list, and propelled him onto 60 Minutes and Larry King Live, as well as several magazine covers.

In his new book, Osteen points to himself as an example of unlocking hidden potential. A college dropout, he preached for the first time when his father, who founded Lakewood Church, became ill and later died. For the preceding 17 years, Joel Osteen had worked behind the scenes in production at the television ministry.

The success of these books raises questions about how religious figures should handle the millions of dollars in royalties and contributions.

Osteen is not the only prominent religious figure who tries to navigate these issues and, by doing so, differentiate himself from such controversies.

Warren, for example, has repaid every dollar he has earned in the pulpit of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and pledged to give away 90 percent of his book royalties. He accepts no speaking fees and is not as reluctant as Osteen to criticize those who are less altruistic.

“The opulent lifestyles of televangelists make me sick,” said Warren, of those ministries now under investigation. The scandals, he said, flow from the “prosperity gospel” that many televangelists preach.

“Success in any area often creates a spirit of entitlement — ‘I deserve this’ — that is the exact opposite of servant leadership,” Warren said.

Osteen agrees, offering his own definition of the prosperity gospel: “I never preach a message on money,” he said. “I do believe that God wants us to be blessed, to have good marriages, to have peace in our minds, to have health, to have money to pay our bills. I think God wants us to excel. But everyone isn’t going to be rich — if we’re talking about money.” Source: Orlando Sentinel

I have criticized Rick Warren in the past when I was a young Calvinist at UT but now I really respect the guy and all he has done. He brought down the house Catalyst. I'm not willing to say listen to what he believes but I can say act least outwardly he is living out something of Christianity. I believe he is 100% genuine in he approach and means well. He gets vilified for having a weak gospel by many in the Blog world but I'm indirectly his presence on TV have brought some people back to church. He knows what he believes he was put on earth to do and is doing. He is focused and not ashamed about it. He acts humbly towards critics and seems to be living above reproach.

He may believe in a light version of Christianity but he is living out the "little" he knows. While many of us know more but live out a small portion of our knowledge. Which one are you? Unfortunately, I'm probably the latter rather than the former. . .

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