Victoria Osteen and the Rest of Us

the-american-dreamI don’t spend much time offering my thoughts and reflections on the American dream-centered church, which some identify as the preachers of the “prosperity gospel”. Their message is basically focused on God wanting you to be healthy, happy and have lots of money. Well, there is the actual factor that God wants us to be whole, fully restored – and that will be done when all things are summed up in Jesus at the final consummation of all things. But there is a difference between that authentic storyline and the prosperity mirage.

One of the most recent blunders to send shockwaves around the social media world is Victoria Osteen’s video clip where she states: “I want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God. I mean, that’s one way to look at it…we’re doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning…”

You can see the clip here, including someone adding in a little Bill Cosby response clip at the end. But it was weird watching the clip. I could only grimace with embarrassment for her.

However, I’d like to take this opportunity by having us all reflect on just how spiritually anthropocentric, or human-centered, we really are in America. Not just those 25,000+ who sit in a Osteen-led service in Lakewood week by week. But the many of us who have truly had the wool pulled over our eyes in this regard, so much so that we don’t really see the undergirding foundation for what it is. Continue reading

PT Podcast 13: Issues the Church Faces Today – Same-Sex Relationships, Part 2

podcastWith today’s episode on the Prodigal Thought Podcast, we finished our short series on issues that the church faces today. We continued with part 2 on the topic of same-sex relationships and marriage.

Listen to or download the podcast episode below. Continue reading

Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus

slow-church-bookAs I shared before on here, a couple of months ago, I received a review copy of a new release from IVP. The book is Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, co-authored by Christopher Smith and John Pattison.

I can truly say that this is one of the best books I’ve read in my 17+ years as a Christian, for it captures a lot of what I see the church called to in the present-day.

What is that call? Let’s explore through the lens of Slow Church. Continue reading

C.S. Lewis on Poetry

reflections on the psalmsFor my birthday, I was given a gift card to Barnes & Noble. It’s great to know the people in my life know me so well – coffee, beer and books. I’m pretty easy to please!

So I stopped in to Barnes & Noble over the weekend to browse the shelves to see if I might find a candidate worth purchasing with my gift card. I did find something. My choice fell to C.S. Lewis’s Reflections on the Psalms. I decided on it because a) I’m teaching Old Testament Survey this semester, and we’ll take a whole 3-hour session to cover biblical poetry and the Psalms and b) knowing I teach at a creative-hub, such as Visible Music College, it seems appropriate to share C.S. Lewis’s thoughts on the Psalms. Here was a creative and imaginative giant. More a philosopher and story-writer, over and above being a poet. Yet still, I believe he’ll have some beautiful thoughts to offer on the Psalms.

Here’s something I came across in the Intro chapter on God’s desire to speak, or incarnate, through poetry: Continue reading