(Jim Denison) It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: “A televangelist and a Catholic Sunday school teacher were talking one day …” But Tuesday night it really happened: Pastor Joel Osteen appeared on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show to discuss Osteen’s latest book, The Power of I Am. Colbert, one of the most biblically literate Hollywood celebrities, noted God’s description of Himself as the “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). It turned out, the book is about something else entirely.

Osteen explained to Colbert that he wrote about what follows the words “I am” in a person’s mind. He illustrated: Sometimes we say “I am slow” or “I am unlucky” or “I am not attractive.” Instead, he wants us to say “I am blessed” or “I am strong” or “I am talented.” According to Osteen, “We don’t realize how many times we speak negative things about ourselves.” To which Colbert responded with his typical wit: “I do that all the time. I’m so stupid.”

I read The Power of I Am recently and appreciate Joel Osteen’s desire to help us see ourselves as loved by God. However, I need to remind you of an important theological maxim: The Bible can never mean what it never meant. To understand Scripture, discover its original meaning and apply that meaning to your life today. Only then can you experience the full wisdom and power of God’s word. CONTINUE