Lakewood Church leader and best-selling author Joel Osteen has encouraged Christians to be careful of what they watch for entertainment, as negative images and violence will "depress" their spirit and prevent them from entering fully into God's rest.
In a recent blog post, Osteen, 53, wrote that the apostle Paul encourages Christians to "enter into the rest of God" in the New Testament book of Hebrews. However, it's not always easy to maintain internal peace when every day brings new temptations and challenges.
Instead of giving up, Christians have to fight daily to maintain their peace, not allowing "peace stealers" to cause them a life of stress, worry and grief: "There will always be people and circumstances trying to pull you out of peace. If you're going to live in peace, you have to put up some boundaries," he writes.
For example, one should not watch the news 24 hours a day and expect to stay at rest, he argues.
"Your mind wasn't meant to take in all the tragedies, accidents and killings over and over," Osteen cautions. "That's going to pull you out of the place of rest. Do yourself a favor; turn it off. Be careful what you meditate on."
The megachurch pastor uses an example from his own life in which he went to see a movie with his wife, Victoria, but the movie was so violent that he left the theater "on edge."
"I felt like I had been run over by a truck," he recalls. That whole night, I dreamed I was in the middle of that war. Victoria kept waking me up, 'Joel, you're having a nightmare. Wake up!' The next day, I had to get up and finish preparing my message for Saturday night. I learned my lesson! What you take in the night before affects your day."
He reminds readers that whatever you see and hear "eventually gets into your subconscious mind."
"If you're taking in all the negative, violence and discouragement, that's going to depress your spirit. We have to constantly be aware of what might pull us out of rest," Osteen writes.
"Sometimes it's our own choices. But just like your choices can pull you out of rest, your choices can lead you into rest. Choose wisely and hold on to the peace He's giving you every single day!" the pastor concludes.
Osteen, with co-pastor Victoria, leads Houston's Lakewood Church, now the largest congregation in the United States, with over 40,000 members. He has also authored numerous books and his broadcasts from the Lakewood Church in Houston each Sunday reaching more than 100 million homes in the United States and millions more in 100 countries around the world.
Earlier this year, Osteen explained that he is called to spread a message of positivity and hope to millions around the world when asked if he ever feels like he is "cheating people" by never discussing hell and repentance.
"No, I really don't, because it's a different approach," he told CBS News. "You know, it's not hellfire and brimstone. But I say most people are beaten down enough by life. They already feel guilty enough. They're not doing what they should, raising their kids -- you know, we can all find reasons. So I want them to come to Lakewood or our meetings and be lifted up, to say, 'You know what? I may not be perfect, but I'm moving forward. I'm doing better.' And I think that motivates you to do better."
In a separate interview with northjersey.com, Osteen said he intentionally avoids hot-button issues like homosexuality and abortion because he feels such topics detract from the Gospel message.
"Our general message speaks to staying in peace and being respectful and staying full of joy and staying positive," the pastor said. "I don't get specific about the politics, but our core message deals with [how] every day, you have to choose to be happy; you have to overlook things that are done wrong and things that are said.