Pastor Joel Osteen has got two words that can change your life: “I am.”
This comes from Osteen’s new book, “The Power of I Am: Two words that will Change Your Life Today,” which hit bookshelves Monday. The book encourages readers to use the words “I Am” to inspire self-confidence, according to Parade magazine.
This is not unlike the megachurch pastor’s previous book “I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life,” which asked believers to declare their faith by reading 31 different pieces of advice from the word of God.
The “I Am” message has been the subject of Osteen’s more recent sermons, though.
“When I spoke this message a few years ago, I remember that this concept was very well-received,” Osteen told Parade magazine. “The principle is that whatever follows ‘I am’ will eventually find you. You’re handing it an invitation, opening the door and giving it permission to be in your life.”
People can often use these two words to spread negativity — like saying “I am unattractive” or “I am slow,” Osteen said. But positive phrases outlined in the book — like “I am free,” “I am victorious” and “I am a masterpiece” — will help readers find confidence in themselves.
“I was talking to someone the other night who said she used to say ‘I’m so tired’ all the time,” Osteen told Parade. “You’re equipped with the ability to turn this around. It’s not magic, but it’s a way of life. It’s moving away from being negative toward yourself.”
Inspirational speaker Oprah Winfrey became a supporter of the “I am” message after she heard Osteen deliver a sermon on the subject at his Lakewood Church, which has more than 43,000 members.
Oprah said people can become what they believe by using the phrase.
“You become what you believe,” she said in the video below. “And that really just changed the way I looked at my life.”
The phrase actually originates in the Bible, like in John 8:58: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
But that’s far from the only time Jesus used the phrase “I am” to show his faith. According to the Institute for Creation Research, Jesus said the phrase in Exodus, Genesis and Psalms, among other books.
“I am the Lord,” he declares in Genesis 15:7.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” he reveals in John 14:6.
Jesus’ use of the “I am” phrase may actually have been a way for him — as Osteen’s lessons suggest — to define himself. According to Michael J. Kruger, the president of the Reformed Theological Seminary, Jesus often used “I am” to show that he was the one true God.
Kruger explained in a blog post that God’s words in Isaiah are similar to Jesus’ words in the Book of John.
God uses the phrase “I am” in Isaiah 43:10, which reads, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
Jesus emulates this phrase in verse John 18:6: “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.”
This helped Jesus define himself and show the people that he was the same God spoken of earlier.
“In the end, the ‘I am’ language in John is a likely reference to God’s self-declarations in Isaiah, and thus a dramatic claim by Jesus to be the one true God of Israel,” Kruger wrote. “By appealing to Isaiah, Jesus is not portraying himself as another God, but the one and the same God of the Jews.”
Jesus uses the phrase to define who he is in a positive light, something Osteen’s book and recent message would agree with.
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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.