Monday, September 05, 2005

Your Best Life Now

Five truths here, 7 habits there, 12 steps later and you're cured/ successful/ fulfilled/ fill-in-adjective, right? No, but that doesn't mean that such plans and programs are without merit. In fact, much of what we're after in life (health, success, fulfillment, fill-in-noun) is available to us if we'll simply follow through in applying the truths that we do know.

Why we don't is a mystery. Well, not a complete mystery. We are sinful after all and need to be reminded over and over of God's grace. And that's one reason I enjoy reading books like Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now that bring to mind again the steps, in this case, the 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.

Although accused of preaching a name-it-claim-it gospel, Osteen's book is more in line with Chuck Swindoll than Kenneth Copeland. Within a Christian context we can't go too wrong exploring themes that encourage us to: Enlarge Your Vision, Develop a Healthy Self-Image, Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words, Let Go of the Past, Find Strength Through Adversity, Live to Give, and Choose to Be Happy. Osteen writes:
I will challenge you in this book to break out of a "barely-get-by" mentality, to become the best you can be, not merely average or ordinary. To do that, you may have to rid yourself of some negative mindsets that are holding you back, and start enlarging your vision, seeing yourself as doing more, enjoying more, being more. That, my friend, is what it means to live your best life now. (Introduction)
Now this style of literature may not be your cup of tea, but shouldn't we all want to begin living at our best? Isn't that what Jesus is calling us to? A life of abundance? Just wondering.


Technogypsy said...

I'd say no. He called us to a life of repentence and service, that we might be sons of God. No promises that we'd live better now...

Lyn said...

Kevin, I should have expanded what I meant by living "within the Christian context." We are called to live holy and righteous lives, of course. A life of repentance and service is a scriptural given. But we forget that, yes indeed, God has promised that we'll live better now. See John 10:10 as one among many verses affirming that life with Christ is better than without Christ. Is this not the case? lgp

wayne m said...

In a previous time we would have called this a discussion of "Spiritual Disciplines." I guess that term has gone way out of fashion. We don't like any discipline in our lives.

Good review.

Jenny said...

Personally, I don't think that "A life of repentance and service is a scriptural given" is true by looking at most of what passes for christianity these days. It may be in the scriptures but it sure isn't "a given" in our culture.
What about Jesus saying that we should "forsake all" to be a disciple? The rich young ruler went away sorrowful for he had great riches -- if what Osteen says is true, why was that incompatible with following Jesus?
I don't know if the abundance Jesus referred to is necessarily material surfeit as we know it in this culture.
These are only my own opinions and I hope it doesn't sound picky, I like to share ideas and I like your blog! Thanks,

Lyn said...

Thanks for your comment. I agree that a life of repentance may not be a cultural given - although, I do believe we are wired up to serve others, and that does express itself without too much prompting (a la 9/11, Tsunami, Katrina, et al).

I guess what I'm getting at is that Christians stop at the hard words of Jesus about discipline, forsaking all, dying to one's self, (which are clear scriptural injunctions albeit not readily obeyed even in the church) and forget that this should lead to a life of overflow.

Why do we always think that striving for success, wealth, health, great relationships, positive community impact, etc, are signs that we are not seeking the Lord? Look closely at James 4.13-15 and tell me what the (human) goal is in each case. Is it not to "carry on business and make money?" And the only difference is whether we include the Lord in those plans or not.

In other words, living a successful life and living for the Lord are not incompatible. Thoughts? lgp

Gwynne said...

"living a successful life and living for the Lord are not incompatible" as long as we remember to place the Lord first. We've all seen too many examples of the reverse, which makes people wary, as they should be.

Gwynne said...

Good discussion by the way. I enjoyed reading your "rebuttals."

jen said... a successful life and living for the Lord are not incompatible.

True. However, who defines success? What is considered success? How is success measured?

By God's standards the homeless man on the street who loves Him and serves Him in obedience is successful. By the world's standards, that man is an utter failure.

Beau's Sis said...

Just a gentle reminder to those who seek to be "financially" blessed, read the pitfalls in James 5:1-6. Remember that when much is given much is required.

And no matter what we have, give thanks unto the Lord.

I read this recently and think it is apropos for this topic:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Mark Swanson said...

Hi Lyn, Thanks for commenting on the Osteen questions I raised in my blog. I agree that what Osteen says can be helpful, for someone who takes him as one of many ingredients. But someone who feeds solely on a steady diet of J.O. is going to miss out on major portions of the gospel- and for a minister of the gospel to intentionally omit major portions of the Word from His preaching is spiritual malpractice. If he was just a travelling motivational speaker his message would be fine.