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Pastor Joel Osteen has always been a controversial figure for many, as his preaching tends not to conform to the more traditional “expository” method of biblical interpretation. Some dismiss him as merely promoting positive thinking while others can’t stand the liberty he takes with the narratives.
Unlike those who tend to focus on the science of biblical interpretation by digging into ancient history and culture (me) or delving into the original languages to find the deeper meaning behind specific words (also, me), Joel Osteen focuses more on the art of interpretation.
After reading a few of his books and listening to many of his sermons, I’ve come to appreciate Osteen’s distinct approach. His intentional decision to focus solely on positive and uplifting messages helps us drop the magnifying glass and zoom out so we don’t miss the forest for the trees.
He’s an artist who paints his pictures with broad strokes to help his audience see the larger picture of God’s work over time. He makes it clear that God hasn’t changed. how God has worked in peoples’ lives all through history—and imagine Him doing the same thing in our lives today.
Each of his points are grounded in profound truths gleaned from biblical stories and then supplemented with modern day examples from his personal experience, his family’s encounters with God over decades, and/or anecdotes from friends and parishioners. The underlying principles he pulls out of Bible stories are inspiring and legit.
In his latest book, Believe: Hope Has Your Name on It, Osteen demonstrates biblical truths by weaving biblical narratives and contemporary stories that illustrate God’s miraculous provision and intervention.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Believe:
- “God goes to work when He sees you have a made up mind.”
- “God is not limited by the natural. He is a supernatural god. He can make things happen out of season.“
- “He leads you one step at a time. If you trust Him and take that step into the unknown, not knowing how it’s going to work out, He’ll show you another step. Step-by-step, He’ll lead you into your destiny.“
- “God is not interested only in the destination. He’s teaching you along the way. He’s getting you prepared and growing you up.“
- “When you have something in front of you that seems too big, and you don’t think you have what it takes to do it, that’s God stretching you. He sees things in you that you don’t see… Keep stretching, keep praying, and keep believing. You’re growing. God is leading you step by step.”
- “God uses the journey to get us prepared for where we’re going. When we have to stretch our faith, believe that He is making away, and thank Him. Things are turning out in our favor. That is strengthening our spiritual muscles.”
- “When you’re in the unknown, when you’re stretching, praying, and believing, that’s when you’re really growing. The journey is more important than the destination.”
Osteen’s overarching message is clear: God is not like us. He is supernatural. Unfettered by the laws of nature, human limitations, or physical circumstances, the God of the Bible acts as He sees fit, often accelerating outcomes or exceeding expectations.
Ultimately, Believe: Hope Has Your Name on It inspires readers to anchor themselves in hope and trust that God is actively guiding them into their full destiny.
I highly recommend this book as a source of encouragement, a reminder that God remains true to His Word, capable of performing miracles as depicted in the Bible even in our contemporary world.
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