The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Practicing Discernment: Victoria Osteen Advises Christian Parents

93

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Within the realm of Christendom, you are being bombarded on all sides with facts about who God is, how He operates, and how He responds to you. A lot of those facts are wrong. As a Christian, you need to be on your guard. When you accept lies as truth, you’re the one who is hurt by them, not the folks who led you astray.

Now if you’ve got some decent people skills and a basic understanding of human psychology, it’s a very simple thing to get rich off of Christians. Most Christians have a poor understanding of the Bible, yet at the same time, they think it’s some kind of magical contract which God is bound to honor. This puts manipulative shepherds in a sweet spot. All they have to do is start slicing and dicing passages and they can get Christians to believe all kinds of lies about God. This is a very common strategy for lying leaders in the Church: they refer to Scripture to build up their credibility in your mind, and they count on the fact that you won’t question them. Now questioning the leaders themselves is a waste of time, but you should certainly be questioning what they’re telling you in your own heart and looking to God for wisdom. Unfortunately, most Christians don’t do this. That’s how we get guys like Joel Osteen, the senior pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.Now a lot of Christians beef about Joel just because they’re super jealous about how rich and popular the guy is. That’s ridiculous. Being rich and popular isn’t a crime, and just because a guy has money doesn’t mean he has to share it with you. So when people gripe on and on about how Joel manages his personal finances—well, that’s between him and God. We want to teach you how to not let Joel or anyone else mess you up with God. If Joel wants to preach lies from the pulpit, he’ll have to answer to God for it. But you need to learn how to not be led astray by the lies that other preachers tell. How do you do this? By practicing discernment.

The first step in practicing discernment is stopping to think. Preachers and teachers throw conclusions about God at you thick and fast, and yet those conclusions are built on other assumptions. It’s like having someone hand you a drink with a nice layer of whip cream on top which hides what’s underneath it. They tell you, “Drink it down fast.” You really like whip cream, so you’re tempted to go for it, but first you need to ask, “What exactly am I drinking? What’s underneath the layer of cream?”

Christian leaders who want to use and abuse you for their own selfish gain are careful to top off their lies with a nice layer of cream. It’s the cream that attracts you, and that cream usually consists of an ego pleasing statement. The problem is that many ego pleasing statements encourage us to practice the opposite of those four essential soul attitudes that are so critical to developing a positive relationship with God: reverence, submission, dependency and trust. Prosperity theology—which is what Joel and his wife Victoria peddle—is a body of beliefs which heavily promotes the notion that we can dominate and control God by wielding sorcerer-like powers. Prosperity teachers want you to believe that you can have an enormous impact on the lives of others and on the circumstances of your own life simply by speaking things out loud or quoting passages of Scripture. On the Joel Osteen Ministries main website, we can find many examples of this kind of teaching in the articles which Joel and Victoria put out. These articles are supposed to be daily doses of encouragement and guidance. Yet what kinds of soul attitudes are you being encouraged to adopt?

DISCERNMENT EXERCISE: VICTORIA OSTEEN ADVISES CHRISTIAN PARENTS

In an article directed at Christian parents, Victoria Osteen says that it’s very important for parents to speak positively towards their children. But while it’s true that our children are going to feel discouraged by us constantly criticizing them, Victoria takes this concept way too far and turns Christian parents into the controllers of their children’s destinies.

Remember, if you make the mistake of constantly speaking negative words over your children, you are cursing their future. Moreover, God will hold you responsible for destroying their destiny. With authority comes responsibility, and you have the responsibility as the spiritual authority over your child to make sure that he feels loved, accepted, and approved. You have the responsibility to bless your children.

Besides, we all want good things for our children. We want our kids to be blessed. Why not put those thoughts and feelings into words? As Joel likes to say, “A blessing isn’t really a blessing until it is spoken.” Say those words aloud that will bless your children: “You are a child of God. God has good things in store for you. You are blessed and cannot be cursed!” Then watch to see how your child begins to thrive, how his attitude about himself will change, how her actions with others will improve, as the blessings of God begin to take root in the lives of your children.

Here we have a discussion of three parties: kids, parents, and God. Who does Victoria promote as being the most powerful? The parents. It is the parents who have the power of cursing or blessing their children. Notice how she says God will hold parents responsible for destroying their children’s destinies—something which He was clearly unable to stop them from doing because the parents are more powerful than He is. Victoria is saying that as a Christian parent, you are the one controlling the quality of your child’s life and shaping their future. God is limited to responding to your orders. If you curse your kids, they will be cursed. God can be mad at you for it, but He can’t prevent it from happening. The other alternative is to verbally bless your child. If you do this, Victoria says you will force God to bless your child—notice the language:

Say those words aloud that will bless your children: “You are a child of God. God has good things in store for you. You are blessed and cannot be cursed!” Then watch to see how your child begins to thrive…as the blessings of God begin to take root in the lives of your children.

Why are blessings of God taking root in the lives of your children? Because you, the powerful God whisperer, are controlling His behavior. And what is the true source of your power? Verbal utterances.

As Joel likes to say, “A blessing isn’t really a blessing until it is spoken.”

Since when? Joel can invent ridiculous rules all day, but that doesn’t make them true. The truth is that you are not some potent little sorcerer who God feels intimidated by. God holds your molecules together, and you won’t see the day that you coerce Him to do something that He doesn’t want to do. Victoria’s bottom line is this: you are an extremely potent sorcerer, so use your power well. Good grief, this isn’t magic school. Christian leaders are supposed to be teaching the flock how to please God, not giving them lectures on how to control Him. Victoria’s admonition to parents is encouraging Christians to embrace attitudes that are the total opposite of what God wants. God wants submission from us, she says we can dominate Him with our incredibly powerful verbal spells. God wants us to revere Him, but she says we ought to revere our own power because it’s more awesome than we realize. God wants us to embrace the reality of our total dependency on Him, yet she’s promoting the idea that both God and our children depend on us to be responsible with the way we cast our spells.

Now maybe God is forgetting to remember that He is supposed to bless your socks off just because you want Him to. To keep God on a tight leash, Victoria and other prosperity teachers advise us to throw the Bible in His face.

Speak God’s Word over your children every day before they go to school or go out to play. You don’t need to preach a sermon; just say something like, “God’s Word says that He loves you, and He has something special in store for you today!”

Or pray, “You promised me in Psalm 91 that You will give Your angels charge over us and that no evil would come near our household. So I thank You that my children are supernaturally protected, and You are guiding them and watching after them. Father, You said that we’re the head and not the tail, and You will surround us with favor. So I thank You that my children are blessed, and they will excel at whatever they put their hands to do.”

Is this bit about Psalm 91 even true? Is there actually a passage in the Bible where God promises modern day Christians the protection of angels and a complete sheltering from evil for them and their kids? No, there isn’t. God didn’t write Psalm 91. A prophet who was speaking for God didn’t write Psalm 91. All of the psalms were poetic songs written by Jewish men who were living under the Old Covenant. And because the ancient Jews were highly superstitious people, they were very big into this blessing and cursing business. Like us today, they really wanted to believe that they could control God through verbal utterances. They were also way too enamored with angelic beings, thus we find the human author of Psalm 91 fantasizing that God will wrap him up in some happy blanket of angelic protection.

So what does God think of Psalm 91? Well, for starters, God is a very jealous Being who takes issue with us getting more excited about angels than we do about Him. Who needs angels when you have God Almighty looking out for you? Angels are just created beings who can’t even sustain their own existence. We don’t need angels. We have God. But the ancient Jews were very superstitious and they found angels endlessly fascinating. So did the New Testament Jews, which is why we find dingdongs like the author of Hebrews saying:

Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. (Heb. 13:2)

Clearly the author of Hebrews thinks it’s some great privilege to interface with an angel. But why? Angels are not God, and our God is jealous. The author of Hebrews is promoting angels as better than humans—he says our motivation for being nice to humans is to avoid offending angels who might show up in human disguises. Well, no, this exaltation of angels is utterly offensive to God. We should be hospitable to humans because God commands us to treat others as we’d want to be treated. Pleasing angels is never an appropriate motivation to do anything because God is jealous. Yet does anyone ever point this out to you when it comes to Hebrews 13? Does anyone ever tell you to stop with the adoration of angels because God wants to be the only supernatural Being you admire? No, they encourage you to imitate the foolishness of the ancient Jews by referencing Psalm 91 and saying: “Look—God has promised to have His angels protect us. Isn’t that exciting?” No, it’s as dull as dirt. We shouldn’t be caring about what angels are doing. We have God.

Let’s take a closer look at the first two lines of the prayer Victoria writes up for us:

“You promised me in Psalm 91 that You will give Your angels charge over us and that no evil would come near our household. So I thank You that my children are supernaturally protected, and You are guiding them and watching after them.”

God is indeed supernaturally protecting, guiding and watching over our children as well as every other soul on the planet. If God wasn’t constantly protecting all of us from each other, our own stupidity, and other created beings, we’d all be dead by now. But Victoria defines God’s protection to be something that it’s not–something that allows no evil to come near our household. This is absurd, plus it encourages you to spin off into delusions about evil being some cognizant force in the world.

What exactly is evil? Well, prosperity teachers typically define evil as being anything you don’t personally approve of—stuff like illness, poverty, and grief. They then say demons are the source of that evil, while God is painted as only being a Source of blessings. So what Victoria is telling you to do in this prayer is to hold God accountable to fulfilling promises that He made to you in Psalm 91—promises about you having a perfect, trial free life.

Well, for starters, God isn’t talking in Psalm 91. A human is waxing on about God, and that human is a Jew who is living under the Old Covenant. Under that Covenant, Yahweh specifically promised the Jews that if they remained faithful to Him as an entire nation, then He would give the entire nation a perfect life on earth. Yahweh most certainly did promise wealth, health and happiness in reward for obedience. But He only ever promised such things to an entire nation. He did not promise these things to any individual. Ever wonder why all of God’s prophets had such lousy lives in the Bible if obedience is supposed to be rewarded with a perfect life? No, you don’t wonder such things because prosperity teachers teach you not to think for yourself. They don’t want you to ever read the whole book—they just want you to accept their interpretations of various passages.

Okay, so under the Old Covenant, blessings were a reward for obedience. The author of Psalm 91 understands this and if you read the whole psalm, you’ll find an if-then relationship being described. Putting words in Yahweh’s mouth, the psalmist writes:

“Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows My Name.” (Ps. 91:14)

Notice the reference to devotion. And that business about knowing God’s Name was also a reference to sincere devotion. So the psalmist is describing Yahweh as saying if people are devoted to Him, then He’ll give them a bunch of earthly perks. But the psalmist is actually summarizing the Old Covenant incorrectly because Yahweh did not promise these kinds of earthly perks to various individuals—only to the whole nation of Israel. Also, when Yahweh was actually doing the talking, He never said anything about angels protecting people.

It’s in the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy that Yahweh lays out the rules the psalmist is attempting to summarize. In those books, Yahweh says that He will be the One blessing the nation of Israel if she obeys Him. He never gives any credit to angels, because God simply isn’t One to share the glory. So what we find in Psalm 91, is an individual Jew misapplying Old Covenant concepts by trying to say that promises given to a nation were actually given to individuals. He then throws in guff about angels, who he is probably personally enamored with. The only good part is that he at least preserves the if-then concept of sincere devotion to God being a requirement before any blessings rain down. But by the time he changes the focus from a nation to an individual, he’s actually promoting a bunch of harmful lies. An individual like Ezekiel could read Psalm 91 and think, “What am I doing wrong? Here I am, faithfully obeying Yahweh, and yet I’m getting harassed and beat up, and I’m dirt poor. I’ve got enemies all around me. I’m living in some hellhole foreign nation surrounded by pagans instead of in my homeland of Israel. Wow, I guess God must be mad at me because He’s sure not blessing me.” Would this be a proper application of Psalm 91’s theology? Yes. But is Psalm 91’s theology correct? No, it’s totally wrong. God was pleased with Ezekiel’s devotion. God was not making the guy’s life so hard because Ezekiel was lacking in obedience. Ezekiel demonstrated incredible faithfulness to God by the hellish assignments he endured.

So then, what we have is a psalm that totally misrepresents the way the Old Covenant works. Victoria then tells you—a New Covenant Christian—to claim that psalm as applicable to your own life. Well, no, that psalm has never been applicable to anyone’s life because it’s a total misrepresentation of what Yahweh said. As a Bible teacher, Victoria wants you to assume that she knows her stuff, and yet she’s not pointing out to you the major problems with Psalm 91. She doesn’t tell you that God isn’t even talking in Psalm 91, but rather that a human being is talking and putting words in God’s mouth which God never said. Victoria doesn’t remind you that you aren’t even living under the Old Covenant, therefore it is incorrect for you to try and claim Old Covenant promises. Victoria doesn’t tell you that under the New Covenant, Jesus specifically promises hardship for His believers, and He throws out the entire concept of spiritual devotion being a guarantee of a perfect life on earth for anyone. All Victoria is doing is using a reference to the Bible to encourage you to assume that everything she’s saying is right. Victoria tells you to say to God:

“You promised me in Psalm 91 that You will give Your angels charge over us and that no evil would come near our household.”

In other words, hold God accountable to a promise He never gave you. Do you really think that’s going to fly with God? Of course not. And while you’re busy throwing the Bible in God’s face, are you practicing submission? No, you’re trying to use the Bible to dominate God. You don’t want evil to come near you, but you don’t have the power to keep it away. God does have that power, and you want to find some way to coerce God into using His power to suit your purposes. So you try the old guilt tactic by making God feel obligated to honor some promise He made thousands of years ago. Only the joke’s on you, because God never made any such promise. What God actually says in the Bible is that He is the Source of the things you call “evil.” Here’s a sample of Yahweh actually doing the talking instead of someone just putting words in His mouth:

“I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” (Deut. 32:39)

“I form light and create darkness, I make success and create disaster; I, Yahweh, do all these things.” (Isa. 45:7)

So if Yahweh is taking the credit for the killing, wounding, darkness, and disaster, what exactly is this “evil” that you’re trying to tell God He has to keep away from your household? According to God, evil is part of His will for our lives. He is the Source of our trials. He is the One bringing both the joy and the sorrow. So when you try to tell God He can’t let evil near you, you’re really trying to control the way He treats you. You’re saying, “You’re allowed to do nice things for me, God, but not nasty things. Look—the Bible says so.” This is how Victoria teaches you to pray. But at the same time as she has you telling God what He can and can’t do, she exalts you as God’s superior by saying that you have the power to curse your children’s lives and send them pitching into some dark destiny merely by the potent words you speak to them.

If you continually speak words that discourage and dishearten, before long you will destroy your child’s self-image. And with your negative words, you will open a door, allowing the enemy to bring all sorts of insecurity and inferiority into your child’s life.

Remember, if you make the mistake of constantly speaking negative words over your children, you are cursing their future. Moreover, God will hold you responsible for destroying their destiny. With authority comes responsibility, and you have the responsibility as the spiritual authority over your child to make sure that he feels loved, accepted, and approved. You have the responsibility to bless your children.

So according to Victoria, you can get God to play nice by throwing Scripture in His face. Meanwhile, you’re also able to control the activity of the demonic realm by the kinds of words you speak out loud. She says that if you speak negatively, “you will open a door, allowing the enemy” to bring all sorts of nasty things into your child’s life. Notice that language: you allow the enemy. You, not God. See how it works? This is why prosperity teaching is such a huge money maker: we all love the idea that we could be superior to God. In her short blurb to parents, Victoria’s teaching them that they are able to control God, demons, and other humans merely by some carefully applied language. Well, what a sweet deal that is.

God says He is the One bringing calamity into our lives. Victoria says you’re actually the one controlling the calamity valve by how you speak. God says He’s the One who controls the future. Victoria says you’re controlling the future, and that you have the power to destroy the destiny of your children just by the way you talk. Well, if you can control your kids, why not everyone else? Prosperity theology exalts you as a god who is higher than the real God. The real God says you will either submit to Him as the Supreme Authority over all things or He’ll flick your pompous little soul into Hell. Clearly there are some major problems with prosperity theology, and if you run with the lies Victoria is peddling, you’re going to end up on the wrong side of God’s patience.

FURTHER READING:
Psalm 91: Life is Perfect & God Always Does What We Want
The Power of the Spoken Word
Four Ways to Identify False Teaching in the Church
Hellfire Legalism & Prosperity Theology: Two Different Applications of the Same Lie
Soul Before Earthsuit: Understanding God’s Priorities

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: