Joel Os­teen talks hope, wealth and prayer ahead of Den­ver ser­vice

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Gra­ham Am­brose

Joel Os­teen is the pas­tor of Amer­ica’s largest church, the 52,000-mem­ber Lake­wood Church in Hous­ton. He’s an in­ter­na­tion­ally-rec­og­nized tel­e­van­ge­list with more than 10 mil­lion weekly view­ers in the United States and 20 mil­lion more across nearly 100 coun­tries. His eight New York Times best­sellers and charis­matic ser­mons em­pha­size hope, pos­i­tiv­ity and a com­pas­sion­ate God.

Os­teen is also a rec­og­nized rain­maker. In 2005, Lake­wood Church — which brings in around $90 mil­lion each year — moved into the Com­paq Cen­ter, the for­mer arena of the Hous­ton Rock­ets, for an es­ti­mated bill of $75 mil­lion.

We talked to Os­teen ahead of his visit to the Pepsi Cen­ter in Den­ver on July 14 for a “Night of Hope,” a tour­ing ser­mon se­ries

that takes Os­teen’s min­is­ter­ing to sta­di­ums, am­phithe­atres, and are­nas across the coun­try. be­cause I’m op­ti­mistic. The places I go, I see are­nas filled with peo­ple. We’ll come to Den­ver and see some 15,000 peo­ple there for a night of faith and in­spi­ra­tion. So I see the stud­ies that faith is on the de­cline and things, but I think some of it is the way it’s worded. I think some peo­ple are turned off by “re­li­gion” — I say that re­spect­fully — the part that makes peo­ple feel guilty, and con­demned, and the rules and all.

But I think a lot of peo­ple to­day more than ever have a con­nec­tion to God. So in one sense it’s go­ing down, but in an­other sense I never would have dreamed I’d have grown up in a church where we started with 90 peo­ple when I was a lit­tle boy. Now, tens of thou­sands come out. It’s amaz­ing to me ev­ery time I pull up to the Com­paq Cen­ter where we have church where the Rock­ets played bas­ket­ball. I think faith is at an all-time high in one sense. In an­other sense, there are dif­fer­ent ways to con­nect with tech­nol­ogy, and maybe church at­ten­dance in some ar­eas isn’t what it used to be, but there’s dif­fer­ent ways to con­nect th­ese days. that are in those cat­e­gories, but I be­lieve the mes­sage we pro­mote is to im­prove mankind, help you to live a bet­ter life. And not ev­ery­one is a be­liever in Christ or in God yet, but things can change. That doesn’t rule out our mes­sage on, how do I for­give, how do I reach my dreams, how do I have a good at­ti­tude in dif­fi­cult times. I think that ap­plies to ev­ery­one. but I be­lieve that when you turn to your faith, when you turn to God in those dif­fi­cult times, he will help you to make it through. I talk a lot about over­com­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. And there are, to me, things we don’t un­der­stand. But when you choose to not get bit­ter, not blame God, not give up on life, but have an at­ti­tude of faith, say­ing “God, I don’t un­der­stand this, but I have faith that I’m in the palm of your hand and that you’ll help me make it through,” I be­lieve that’s what true faith is all about. Not in the good times, but trust­ing in the dif­fi­cult times. first half hour to read my Bible, to pray, to make sure I’m on the right path. I think it’s an in­di­vid­ual jour­ney. … I don’t re­ally dwell on doubts, even in dif­fi­cult times or neg­a­tive sit­u­a­tions. That’s when I turn to my faith, not away. We all have things we don’t un­der­stand. Bad things hap­pen to good peo­ple all the time. But we just have to say, “God, I’m in this for the long haul, and I be­lieve you’re in con­trol.” So it’s more of a sense of trust, a sense of peace and faith. books, noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar. I don’t have to give you par­tic­u­lars on that, be­cause I read all through the Scrip­ture. my church or min­istry. I’ve been blessed out­side of that. But no doubt what you’re say­ing is true. But I think you have to over­come it by be­ing who you are, by liv­ing a life of in­tegrity and help­ing other peo­ple. Our mes­sage is that we’re blessed to be a bless­ing to oth­ers. All of us here in Amer­ica are blessed com­pared to parts of the world. I try to just fo­cus on help­ing other peo­ple. In the Scrip­ture, Chris­tian­ity was started with Abra­ham. Abra­ham was one of the wealth­i­est men of his day. It’s not about wealth. I think he was talk­ing about how if your fo­cus is on riches — just, how can I be wealthy and fo­cus on my­self all the time — that’s not what Micah and oth­ers in the Bible were talk­ing about. If your dream is to rise higher, to do great things, to have money to help mankind, to be a bless­ing to oth­ers, I don’t think God has any prob­lem with that. We wouldn’t have the Com­paq Cen­ter to­day if God hadn’t blessed peo­ple the way they could give. It cost $100 mil­lion to ren­o­vate that fa­cil­ity. (Those are) peo­ple that be­lieve that God can do some­thing with a life—that I can rise higher and ac­com­plish things and ex­cel. Not to fo­cus on me, but to be a bless­ing to oth­ers.

Vinh Luong, pro­vided by Joel Os­teen Min­istries

Joel Os­teen preaches in San Fran­cisco in 2015. He’ll be in Den­ver for his an­nual Night of Hope ser­mon July 14.

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