I Am Not

I'm sure it must be the same in every vocation.  You see someone who has the same job as you have and they mess it up and bring shame to the profession.  It could be a football coach who sees another coach mismanage the clock in the last few minutes of the game ... on a lawyer seeing another lawyer violate confidentiality ... or an electrician seeing another electrician start a fire because he wired something wrong ... or a doctor seeing another doctor misdiagnose a disease ... or a (you get the idea by now!)  So I'm a pastor and you're now wondering what I've seen that is prompting this rant.  To understand maybe you should read this article on entrepreneur.com

Osteen article

You notice in that article that Pastor Joel Osteen says the key to success is what follows these two important words, "I am."  This is because, in his make-believe world, our speaking certain words has creative power.  So if we say positive words after we say "I am" then we're insuring ourselves a positive future.

I love being a pastor ... I love working in the Lord's church ... I cherish the privilege (with fear and trembling) of proclaiming the Gospel to others ... but guys like this make me want to constantly bang my head against the wall until I go unconscious.  I've heard some of the "word / faith" teaching before, that our words have this creative power, that we can "speak" into existence certain things, but Osteen now wins the prize!  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't he saying that if we say and believe we're a god ("I am" is the name God gave Himself as He revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3) then we can then create the future we desire with our words - i.e starting a business, advancing careers, living our best lives, etc.  Who doesn't want to be god and be in control of everything!?!?  According to Bro. Joel we can.  In the words of "the church lady" from the late '80's, "Well, isn't that special?"  And certainly don't be around people who would ever say negative things about you or your future.  After all, who needs to spend time examining one's own sin and need of repentance when we need to be pursuing success?

So who am I, a redneck pastor in a podunk PCA church in Moody, AL to come out against someone who preaches weekly to 43,000 in person and 7 million via television?  How many books have I written?  Is my net worth over $56,000,000?  Do I have a 17,000 sq foot home?  Do I own my own jet?  Again, who am I?

Actually, that's what Moses was saying to God when He revealed Himself to Moses.  Moses was wondering what gave him the right to approach Pharoah, the most powerful man on earth at the time, and demand that he release the Hebrew people from slavery.  God answered Moses and essentially said it's not about who you are, but it's all about who I am!  God told Moses, tell him "I am" has sent you and let Pharoah deal with the consequences of his response. 

How dare we mock the glory, authority, existence, sovereignty, majesty, and holiness of God by flippantly using His name to accomplish our own agenda for success.  

Let me encourage you in this way ... as you consider your future, don't put your hope in what positive words you can say after proclaiming yourself to be "god" ... rather put your hope in the true God, the great "I AM," the self-existent and sovereign God of Scripture, the One who has revealed Himself perfectly through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  So maybe it is good to start with the words "I am" but then quickly add "not God" to that thought.  This has to be our starting point ... God is God and we're not; a strong Creator / creature distinction is necessary.

And by the way, if any of you ever hear me spew this kind of garbage in my preaching or teaching, please don't let me continue.  Seriously, I'm perfectly capable of going down some errant path.  Pray for me, for our officers, for our church, for our denomination (the PCA), for the church around the world.