The Osteen Legacy

I was excited to read your profile of Joel and Victoria Osteen and Lakewood Church ("How a Big Church Grew Bigger" by Ernest Herndon, June).

Joel is one of the few ministers on television that I can bear to watch. His humility, humor and grace are engaging. And his reluctance to step into his father's spotlight is rare.

So many sons have taken the reins and run the work of their fathers into the ground. Osteen is continuing his father's legacy and building it.
Betsy Leeuwner
Scottsdale, Arizona

Every week I tune in to Joel Osteen's broadcast. I hear a radical yet simple message that is about Jesus, not man.

As a young man struggling to find his way at a Christian university, I sadly never hear the encouraging, heart-changing message that Joel Osteen preaches: "You can be an overcomer through Jesus Christ."
Justin Faulconer
Lynchburg, Virginia

We love Joel Osteen! His dad was my husband's pastor, and we love the church and the ministry.

We graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center and live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, now, but we are hoping to return to Houston. We were in Missouri when we saw this issue with our pastors on the cover. We had to buy it.
Mickee Hicks
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Joel Osteen says he does not preach theology. According to the dictionary, "theology" is the study of God, His nature, attributes and His relationship with man and the universe. Considering the above definition, what is the message coming from his pulpit at Lakewood?
Victor Zonnefeld
Bellevue, Washington

Your article on Lakewood Church led me to think critically about the message that the American church is preaching today. Joel Osteen's message supports the American middle-to-upper-class way of life more than it does a Christian way of life.

His "relevant" sermons are all about individualism and consumption. The implication is, "If I just do the right things or pray the right way, God will give me happiness--especially as it relates to finances."
Philip P. Cannon II
Chicago, Illinois

I just finished reading about Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church. I am more convinced than ever that pragmatism dominates the church of Jesus Christ. Lakewood and pastor Osteen clearly embrace a Word-Faith theology that is not based on sound doctrine but rather represents the spirit of this age.
Rev. Roy Ingle
Thomson, Georgia

I liked the article on Lakewood Church, but you didn't give details on how many seats their future auditorium would have. I would like to know.
Rev. Jeff Burke
New Beginnings Fellowship

Editor's note: Our article stated that Lakewood meets at Houston's 16,000-seat Compaq Center. The church's new International Center provides a place for conferences and seminars as well as recreational events. Soon it will house a fitness center and a dining and retail plaza.

Texas-Sized Faith

So pastor John Hagee's Cornerstone Church in San Antonio sits atop a $50 million plot ("Big Faith in Texas" by Jim Douglas, April)? How does that further the cause of Jesus or bring glory to God?

Where are that church's priorities? Don't they read, "Bear one another's burdens"?
Mary Holloway Love
Pasadena, Texas

I commend John Hagee for building a good, Bible-believing, family church. However, I disagree with the suggestion that saving grace through Jesus Christ should not be extended to our Jewish brethren. If you really love someone, why would you purposely refuse to share the greatest free gift you profess to have--Jesus Christ? Yomi Akintorin
Oak Brook, Illinois

John Hagee is right. Christians do not have a duty to witness to Jews. Jesus told the Jews: "The kingdom shall be taken from you" (Matt. 21:43).
name withheld

It is sad that a great spiritual leader such as John Hagee is supporting the constitutional ban on gay marriage. Making gay marriage illegal will not eradicate homosexuality; it will only allow Christians to turn a blind eye to the growing population of homosexuals and those who support the lifestyle.

Homosexuality isn't a political problem; it's a spiritual problem. It can be solved only through prayer.
Sarah J. Shafer
Anchorage, Alaska

Your reminder to flood congress with e-mails, letters and calls in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment really motivated me. Your Web site was very helpful too. I'm realizing how important it is that we act now and keep it up until this bill is passed by Congress.
Carolyn S. Simms
Puyallup, Washington

It's Getting Hot in Here!

I was appalled when I saw how Christians tore down our president in recent letters to the editor (Letters, April-June). I don't believe Bush is the reason for our current economic problems, and I don't believe John Kerry can solve them.

The reason American jobs are going to other countries is that God is blessing His people. While other countries are turning to God, America is turning from God.
name withheld

I love the Lord with all my heart. But I'm troubled by the political edge that is showing up in Charisma. George Bush cannot be a man of faith and advocate war.

What would Jesus do if He were here on Earth? He said we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus is a peacemaker.
name withheld

I was furious when I read the letters to the editor in your April issue. There were a number of letters concerning religion and politics. Almost all of these letters complained about past letters, which were critical of the current occupant of the White House.

I don't think these same people cared so much when people trashed Bill Clinton. In fact, so-called Christians are often the worst when it comes to this. It bothers me that you were so one-sided on this.
Patricia Thagard
Johnson City, Tennessee

Why should we Democrat Christians "stop bashing Bush," as some of your readers have asked? I don't care who's pro this or against that. Sen. John Kerry is a war hero and Bush was a draft dodger.

Bush is the worst president since Richard Nixon. Our country is in the worst shape it's ever been, and we Americans are hated around the world! Brenda Edmundson
Knoxville, Tennessee

When are we going to wake up and realize that American politics is based on money, oil and American dominion over the world? U.S. soldiers are pawns in a war that is less about freedom and more about oil. In these last days, when the focus is on worldly treasures, a true Christian president would not be elected in America. Period!
Rochelle Scott
Magnolia, Mississippi

I am astonished at Christians who would stand behind a man like George Bush and defend him as a Christian. He is a member of the Skull and Bones Society. His wife has the White House full of Harry Potter junk, which is witchcraft. If he's a Christian, where is his Bible knowledge?
Mary Shoun
Elizabethton, Tennessee

Charisma editors, please stop being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. You are called to be a prophetic voice for the kingdom of God, not a political voice.

Every time an election rolls around, Christians debate whether this or that candidate is "God's man" for the White House. During the time of Jesus, it would have been difficult to decide if Tiberius, Octavius or Julius Caesar were "God's man" for the empire. The politics of Rome were irrelevant to the kingdom of God.
name withheld

Compelling Truth

Thank you for including Harry Jackson as a columnist in Charisma.

His excellent message called "A Cultural Exchange" (June) reignited my passion for cross-cultural diversity in the kingdom.

How refreshing to hear positive insights about what the black church community has to offer. Pastor Jackson used no guilt tactics, just compelling truths. As a white pastor in a multicultural military community, I would like to hear more from him on this subject.
Rev. Tim O'Brien
St. Robert, Missouri

Harry Jackson has so much insight. His stories are based on biblical truths and conviction. He seems to know what he's talking about, and he forces us to think. Please keep his columns coming.
V.L. Houser
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Stomp On, Kim!

Thank you so much for featuring Kimberly Daniels in your magazine as a regular columnist ("Stomp on the Devil," June). She is awesome and a blessing to the body of Christ. Her message is real and cuts to the truth.
Louise Hilby
Manhattan Beach, California

I agree entirely with Kimberly Daniels' column about homosexuality ("Gay Deception," June). Once the gay agenda succeeds in America, the rest of the world is doomed--and that includes Africa, which is strict and traditional right now. We must rise up to pray for the church in the United States.

On the other hand, when the church is preoccupied with divorce, glamour, mammon, lack of accountability and blinding carnality, we lose the power to give our society a conscience. It is time to stand up and be counted.
Wole Olakunle
Lagos, Nigeria

Kim Daniels' column about "gay deception" exemplifies the arrogance that is present in the church today. Instead of digging into deeper issues that cause homosexuality, such as absentee fathers and abuse, Daniels chose to label an entire group of people "punks." Until the church can see beyond the sin and see the need, it falls short of true Christ-likeness.
R. Nick Peterson
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Jesus did not say one word about homosexuals. Do we have to be so condemning of them?

There may be homosexuals who have chosen or been led into that lifestyle who can be healed by repentance and discipline. Others may have been born that way.
Ellen Turnbull
Berea, Kentucky

A Cry for True Mentors

I read with great interest your article on the generation gap in the church ("We Must Pass the Baton," by Matthew Kutz and Jason King, June). The authors hit the nail on the head when they said there are thousands of potential leaders in their 20s, 30s and 40s sitting in church frustrated.

My husband and I became Christians through a ministry in the early '80s that preached discipleship. Although the discipleship philosophy may have gone too far in some cases, we both give credit to the people who took us under their wings.

A woman discipled me my first year as a Christian. If it weren't for the strong foundation she laid in my life, I wouldn't have been prepared for the leadership positions I assumed in my 20s.

Today my husband and I are in our 40s, and we share a vision for ministry. We would love to be mentored but feel adrift.

We're both seasoned Christians, experienced lay leaders and hard-working professionals but have never had anyone offer to mentor us to get us to the next level as leaders. I pray this article will cause Christian leaders to evaluate the legacy they desire to leave.
Leilani Haywood
Raytown, Missouri

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