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October 17, 2007
I watched Joel Osteen, pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church and author of the enormously popular book, 'Your Best Life Now' being interviewed on 60 Minutes Sunday night and again on Monday's Good Morning America - and I have to say, I really liked the guy. I tried to dislike him - honestly, I did - but he was just too charming, humble and nice! I felt like a kid listening to Mr. Rogers. And how could anyone sincerely say anything derogatory about Mr. Rogers? There are times, I must admit, I would love to be that likable - that popular - that successful - that admired and that nice - but at what cost?

I could put this in theological terms, cite chapter and verse, and stress the importance of repentance and sound doctrine in the life of a Christian; but in order to reach those who have been charmed and enchanted by Mr. Osteen and his negative-free message, a simple illustration might be more appropriate.

A kind word is like a piece of candy, isn't it? Most everyone I know likes a little something sweet after a good meal. And who doesn't enjoy offering a treat to a child, especially when you know it's going to make their face light up? Anyone can draw a crowd of kids with candy. In fact, the more candy you have for them, the more often they will come by and the longer they will stay. Why do you think grandparents are so popular and kids love Halloween? It's all about the candy!

But, what if all we fed children were sweets - trays full of candy, ice cream, cake and sugary treats? They'd love us, wouldn't they? We would be their heroes and none of them would have a cross word to say to us or about us. In fact, they would probably defend us from our critics like no one else.

But they wouldn't be very healthy for very long, would they?

Someone has to feed them what their bodies need to survive and thrive, like meat, vegetables, fruit and breads. And how many smiles do you think nutritious food is going to get you with so much candy around? And who's going to come to your aid when critics start complaining about the lack of sweets you have to offer?

This is why Joel Osteen's gospel is a problem. He gives people what they want - not what they need. He feeds them loads of candy to make them smile, feel better and keep them coming back for more week after week - never mentioning broccoli, brussel sprouts, lima beans, carrots or squash - never serving up pot roast and potatoes, liver and onions, pork chops or a salad from his pulpit - just sweets.

But candy isn't poison, you say!

Maybe not; but if that's all you have to eat, it may as well be.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." - Proverbs 27:6 What are your thoughts on this article?