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Archive for August, 2007

Over here at Charismania, we’ve decided that we probably aren’t alone in what we’ve gone through.  Just from some of the comments y’all have left, we’re coming to realize that there must be LOTS of other interesting “Charismaniac” stories out there.

So, we are throwing out a special “Charismania Challenge.”  Send us an email and tell us about YOUR journey into, through, and out of “Charismania.”  We’ll post the stories that seem relevant to our discussion.

Some possible questions to consider, to get your creative juices flowing: 

  1. How did you end up in your charismatic church? 
  2. When did you first sense that something wasn’t quite right? 
  3. What was it?  A particular teaching from the pulpit?  Something that happened between you and other church people?  Something that the pastor did?
  4. How did you deal with your questions about the ministry?  Did you leave immediately?  Was there anyone to talk to about your concerns?  How long did you remain in your charismatic church despite these issues?
  5. How did you find the strength to leave?  Was there a “tipping point,” an event or experience that suddenly opened your eyes and motivated you to leave?  Or was it more of a gradual process?
  6. Did you go through any of the same experiences that we’ve discussed in this blog?  What were they?  What common themes have you noticed between what you went through and our story?
  7. How did your church friends or acquaintances react upon the news of your leaving? 
  8. How have you coped in the aftermath?

These are just a few suggestions.  We’re sure that you guys can get even more creative.

And a couple of other things to note:

  1. Please, DO NOT USE REAL NAMES!  We will not publish your story if we can easily figure out which church or ministry or pastor you are talking about.  This site does not exist to embarrass anyone or “take down” preachers.
  2. That being said, feel free to make your story as detailed as possible.  The more details you include, the more interesting it will be.
  3. We will reserve the right to edit stories for such things as length, clarity, grammar, and so forth.

Ready to get writing?  Good!  Send your emails to charismaniablog(at)yahoo(dot)com .  We look forward to hearing from you.

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Recently, I was thinking about how much of Charismania has been taken over by the “prosperity gospel.”  Their divorce aside, Paula and Randy White already had an unflattering spotlight turned on their ministry last May for living their rich-and-famous lifestyle on the backs of their people’s offerings. 

More close to home for us is Pastor Smith, who preached a bizarre sermon recently about how his people “need to find out who God is blessing, and bless them.”  He literally told people to give him, personally, money!

And by the way, I find it fascinating that that particular sermon disappeared off of iTunes the other day.  All of the other messages he’s preached are still there, except for “Reverse the Curse and Loose the Blessing.” 

In one way, this disappearing sermon makes me hopeful.  Maybe someone on the church staff actually had the good sense to realize that it showed Pastor Smith’s crazy side, the side that is sickeningly greedy for money.  Maybe someone at the church actually has a sense of what’s proper and dared to speak up about it.  Maybe.

At any rate, I was wondering what it is that makes so many “Charismatic” or Pentecostal preachers buy into the “Prosperity Gospel.”  Why is it that if your church believes in the continuing gifts of the Spirit (like speaking in tongues or prophecy), it’s quite likely that your church will also have an unhealthy focus on money?

If you have an answer to this question, post your thoughts in a comment below.

I was also marveling at how – the removal of that “Reverse the Curse” sermon off of iTunes notwithstanding – it seems like these prosperity preachers, the more successful they become, lose absolutely ALL sense of what’s appropriate.

While you can’t get legalistic about something like a pastor’s owning a Mercedes – it would NEVER be Biblical to say that, in and of itself, it’s a SIN for a pastor to drive a nice car – I think it’s safe to say that instinctively, we just KNOW that there’s something inappropriate about a preacher who lives in luxury. 

I mean, if your paycheck comes from a pool of money that was originally “given to God,” you have a unique responsibility to manage that money in a way that would line up with God’s own Word.  You owe it to your people to live out God’s priorities.  I know it’s cheesy, but I can’t help but ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”  And I can’t help but be reminded of that old song, “Would Jesus Wear a Rolex on His Christian TV Show?”

When my mom was a teenager, one of her best friends was a PK – a “Preacher’s Kid.”  My mom remembers how this friend’s mother would talk about what a tough life they had.  If she wanted a new dress, the congregation would talk.  If she wore a fancy hat, the church ladies had something to say about it.  If she and her husband (the pastor) bought a new car, the deacons wanted to confer to make sure their pastor had gotten the best deal for their money.

Obviously, that is the other extreme.

But now, for those of us in Charismaniac Christendom…well, the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction!  Now we’re treated to megastar preachers who think there’s nothing wrong with blasting in hundreds of thousands of their ministry’s dollars on private jets, fuel for those jets, plastic surgery, designer clothing, and big houses.

Our former “First Lady,” Pastor Smith’s wife, Mary…well, if it hadn’t been so sad, it would have been a real hoot.  Mary often said that she had a unique calling to minister to ladies of a certain status in society.  Our former church held ultra-elaborate themed ladies’ events – where Mary would teach – that were proudly touted from the pulpit as rivaling anything put on by our local downtown historical luxury hotel. 

One such event, in fact, centered around the theme of “designer purses” and involved all the members of Mary Smith’s special decorating committee – and Mary herself, because she said so – bringing in their Chanel, Gucci, and Prada bags to be used as part of Mary’s stage setting.  I sort of recall that her message for that event had something to do with how we ladies were designed by God for His glory. 

But truly, the overwhelming focus, the main thing that I remember from that meeting, was the feeling that it must be nice to have that much money. 

I couldn’t help it.  As the First Lady prattled on about how God has uniquely created each of us as a special designer masterpiece, all I could think of was how it must be nice to have the kind of money where it didn’t bother you to blow hundreds of bucks on a Prada purse.

(And we weren’t exactly “hurting” in the money department, either, at that point.  I can only wonder at what the out-of-work teacher sitting next to me was thinking!)

But the most ironic thing about all of the First Lady’s obvious taste for luxury – and her supposed “heart for the unsaved rich folk” – was that the very society she was so eager to be a part of, so eager to “reach,” would instinctively have sneered at her once they heard what her husband does for a living.

You see, because God’s law is written on our hearts, even the unsaved have a sense of what is fitting for so-called “servants of the Lord.” 

Your most hardened, jaded society matron wouldn’t need anyone to read Bible verses to her for her to KNOW that Jesus wouldn’t have been obsessed with wealth and status.  Jesus wouldn’t have felt the need to drive the sleekest little Mercedes so that he could fit in and “reach” the unsaved people around him.  Jesus wouldn’t have boasted of His French manicures or gloried in shopping at Nordstrom.

Jesus didn’t NEED that sort of stuff, because what Jesus did come to give was so much greater than that!

I just wonder what’s wrong with these prosperity preachers, these men and women who are supposed to be focused on the eternal, who ought to know that there is far more to our existence than money.  Why don’t they understand how inappropriate their obvious taste for the “good life” is?

Moreover, how can they think we’re not going to notice when the very “gospel” they preach – that you can have whatever you say, that your miracle is right around the corner, that God wants to mend your marriage – doesn’t seem to work for them when it comes to their own relationships?

How is it that they still think that we’re going to keep on “sowing into” their ministries even when they callously demonstrate their obliviousness to their own people?

I think these prosperity-preaching megastar pastors are seriously deluded.  And I hope more of their people call for them to straighten up.  Tighten those purse strings.  Give your tithes to ministries that actually preach about Christ’s work on the Cross.  Send your offerings to organizations that feed the hungry or provide care for orphans.

But don’t fork over any more funds for Pastor’s jet or the First Lady’s new Prada purse!

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No “Hard Question” today…just some reflections.

The rumblings last May about Paula and Randy White – about their apparently insatiable appetite for luxury homes, cars, planes, fancy clothes, and plastic surgery, about their seemingly inappropriate use of church funds, about their insensitivity toward the needs of their own congregation – along with the current news story about their recently announced divorce, have really been bothering us.

You see, we used to think that Paula White was a great preacher, a great “woman of the Word.”

She was a guest speaker at Living Word Church (again, for the record, a pseudonym, as are all the other non-celebrity names we use here) on more than one occasion.  That last time that she preached at Living Word, we were privileged to have a front-row seat (which, as we’ve previously discussed, was a BIG DEAL).  As her eyes seemed to lock into mine throughout much of her message, I found myself mesmerized by her authority, by the way she spouted off Scripture, by the way she exhorted us to have the faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman for whatever obstacle we were facing. 

When, toward the end of her sermon, she proclaimed with absolute assurance that we would find ourselves delivered out of our bad situations within just a matter of days, I actually believed her.  In her rapid-fire style, and with complete authority, she said, “I have been sent by God as His messenger to tell you that you WILL have victory.  You WILL see His miraculous hand moving on your behalf!”  

I can remember leaving that service feeling absolutely energized, revived in my faith, full of expectancy for how God was going to move in a particular situation my husband and I were facing at that time.

Paula’s preaching so moved me, in fact, that the next day, I logged on to her website and signed up to be one of her prayer partners.  Even when her absolute proclamation ended up not working out exactly as she’d said, I was still her fan.

So to read of her “fall” has been especially troubling to me.  I feel like I had invested a little something of myself personally into her ministry.

Of course, as with all of this stuff in Charismania, the truth is, I should have known better.  The “gospel” that most of these folks preach – including Paula’s faith-filled exhortations about the Syro-Phoenician woman – is not even the real Gospel of Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for us.  Jesus may get a courtesy mention, but the real “gospel” these folks preach is the “Prosperity Gospel,” where how Jesus came to reconcile us sinners with God is just an incidental part of what He REALLY came to do, which is to make you healthy, wealthy, and (worldly-)wise.

We’ve been having some discussions at our house about how this all could have happened.  How DID Randy and Paula – and, in a less public but no less intense fashion, our former pastor, Pastor Smith and his society-wannabe wife Mary – get it so wrong?  How did they turn the truth of the Bible into the pursuit of money and celebrity?  How did the simple Gospel of Christ and what He did for us on the cross get lost in that shuffle?

We don’t believe that all these “prosperity preachers” actually sat down one day and, rubbing their hands together in glee, plotted how they were going to preach twisted half-truths from the Bible mixed with downright lies and then fleece the people for enough money to fund their extravagant lifestyles.  We think that most of these folks probably started out with sincere motivations.

So what happened along the way?  How did they grow so corrupt?

Awhile back, as part of my personal “therapy” to work through our experiences at Living Word, I actually sat down and wrote out my theory as to how this stuff happened to Pastor Smith.  As I read it again, it struck me that you could replace “Pastor Smith” with “Paula and Randy” and it’d probably be pretty close to accurate.

I put it up on this site quite some time ago, so I’m going to post it again here today:

The other night, I realized that I could rather succinctly sum up a few of the things that I believe caused such a once-good ministry to go sour. In no particular order, here are some observations:

Lack of Formal Education/Lack of Doctrinal Knowledge. As an essentially uneducated (or to be more fair, “self-educated”) man, who by his own admission learned most of what he knows from listening to other preachers on the road, Pastor Smith is not very well-grounded in Christian orthodoxy. He’s a smart man, but he lacks the perspective that a formal education could have given him. This is why his preaching is so heavy on the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” – it just reflects what he has absorbed from all the other prosperity preachers through the years.

I actually have come to believe that Pastor Smith didn’t initially buy into the Prosperity Gospel because he was greedy for money. Rather, although he’s intelligent, he just didn’t know enough to know that teachings like the “Manifest Sons” doctrine, for instance, are heretical.

And then, because tenets of the Prosperity Gospel just about ALWAYS work for the preacher taking up the collection, Smith tasted the fruits of declaring, “Give your best sacrificial offering and you will reap a hundredfold harvest,” and those fruits – his own financial success – made him believe even more in the Prosperity Gospel.

A hardened heart. And then, even if Pastor Smith had dark moments of conscience – even if he had a doubt or two about preaching so much about money and “blessings” for the here and now – once he’d attained financial success and had grown accustomed to his luxurious lifestyle, I believe that he hardened his heart against any such questioning.

I also believe that there is something about money and its fruits that naturally tends to corrupt human nature.  There’s a reason why we are cautioned over and over and OVER AGAIN not to pursue or love money.  (Somehow, “prosperity preachers” conveniently manage to overlook all these passages when telling their cheering crowds of all the material blessings that God is going to give them.)

As Smith’s appetite for luxury grew, and as his sons became adults, got married, and had to fund their own lifestyles in the manner in which they’d grown up accustomed to, it was like Smith was now on a terrible money treadmill, where he had to keep pulling in larger and larger offerings.

His initial taste of luxury grew into a necessity, and there was no way the truth of God’s Word could even penetrate his heart.

It reminds me of I Timothy 4:1-2, where Paul writes, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.”

The “Emperor’s New Clothes” Syndrome. Pastor Smith has, over the years, surrounded himself with nothing but “yes people” who are so enamored of their proximity and access to Smith’s “anointing” that they’d never dream of giving him honest feedback about anything that could be perceived as “negative.” This explains why nobody has ever dared correct Smith on obviously wrong practices like asking people to give his family personal gifts.

Blurred Identity. Somewhere along the line, Pastor Smith grew confused about where his own personal identity ends and where that of the church and/or “his ministry” begins.

This is actually a huge thing that explains so much of the strange stuff that goes on at our former church. It explains why Pastor Smith has no problem soliciting offerings for his wife’s birthday, or simply declaring several times from the pulpit that we needed to give his son and bride cash gifts for their wedding.

It explains why Pastor Smith seems to see nothing wrong with being treated like a celebrity. After all, in his mind, if HE is treated well, that just means that the cause of Christ is advanced, because his sense of himself as an individual has morphed into (and become all intertwined with) his ministry, and his ministry is, after all, about preaching the Gospel. It’s sort of like the old, “If A = B, and B = C, then A = C.” If Smith the man is one and the same as Smith’s ministry, and if Smith’s ministry is one and the same as the Gospel, then Smith is actually…the gospel?

I have come to believe that this identity confusion is why Pastor Smith is still able to convey such a total sincerity both when he preaches and when he engages in questionable behaviors, such as soliciting gifts or favoring the rich. It’s because he honestly has ceased to see any difference between what he does on behalf of himself-and, because his wife and two sons are all on the church dole, of his entire family-and on behalf of the cause of Christ. Hook Smith up to a lie detector, ask him if he’s ever abused ministry funds, and I’m willing to bet he’d firmly declare, “No!” And he’d pass the lie detector with flying colors, because in his mind, his $80,000 Mercedes, his million-dollar mansion, his designer clothing, are all purchased on behalf of the ministry, because they were purchased for HIM. And since he works for Jesus, then it’s actually Jesus who is benefiting from the expensive suits and the luxury car.

Those are some of the observations that time has distilled.

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Hard Question #3:

Why does Pastor Smith call himself “Doctor,” even while he mocks seminary, calling it “cemetary”? 

As others have pointed out in discussions on Randy White’s deceptive degree, preaching the Gospel or being a pastor or minister REQUIRES NO DEGREE.  So why on earth would a preacher feel the need to use the title of “Doctor,” especially if the degree is merely honorary?

Like Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyer, Randy White, and a host of other “Charismaniac” preachers, Pastor Smith has an honorary doctorate from somewhere (we’re not sure, but we think it might be from Oral Roberts University, since they seem awfully free-handed with their honorary degrees).

(We’re giving Pastor Smith the benefit of the doubt with the “honorary” thing, because the alternative is that he “earned” his degree through some diploma mill.  We do know that Pastor Smith never attended seminary.)

Anyway, Pastor Smith is often introduced as “Doctor M. T. Smith,” or “Doctor Mike Thomas Smith.”

When I pointed out to some of our church friends this false and deceptive use of the honorary degree, their response was, “Oh, Pastor Smith doesn’t push the use of ‘Doctor,’ it’s only when other people introduce him that they refer to him as ‘Doctor.'”

My response to these folks was, “Well, then why is this fake title chiseled onto the very prominent sign in the front of the church property?”  The sign reads, “Living Word Church, Dr. M. T. and Mary Smith, Pastors.”

Would anyone care to answer this Hard Question #3?  Why DOES Pastor Smith use the title of “Doctor”?  Could there possibly be any pure or innocent motivation?  All I can think of is that he wants to take on the credibility that an advanced degree would give him…even while he simultaneously denigrates education.  But if any of you out there can come up with a legitimate reason, we’d love to hear it.

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I’m not happy about it – not at all.  I’m sickened and very sad that this is happening.  Paula White and her husband – “Bishop” Randy White are divorcing, yet are continuing in the ministry…

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How will she be introduced at the mega-churches?  What will her “daddy” Bishop TD Jakes say about this?  How will he effectively lead a large congregation?  We need to pray – each and every one of us – that false teachers will be exposed and will no longer have influence.

video – http://tbo.com/video/xml/MGBJ2DH2Q5F.html

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If you’re new to this site, we’d love for you to take a few moments and scroll down to the previous two entries and give us your feedback.  If you’ve already checked out our “Hard Questions” and looked at an example of Pastor Smith’s type of prophecy, then here’s something new to consider:

One of the best things about Living Word Church (for the record, “Living Word Church,” “Pastor Smith,” and for that matter, all the other names we use here, are PSEUDONYMS) was the fact that it was a very culturally diverse congregation.

(Note:  In this essay, as in the rest of my life, I absolutely refuse to use the word “race” when talking about cultural, ethnic, or skin color differences, because the only “race” that really matters is the HUMAN race!) 

I firmly believe that today’s average American-especially the average Christian-really wants our society to be, as Martin Luther King dreamed, a “color-blind society.”  The sad thing, though, is that too often, your Sunday church service will be the most segregated place you’ll go all week long.

Think about it.  Most of you probably work with people from different ethnic groups.  Many of you even live in places where your neighbors might speak a different language than you or have a different skin color than yours.

But on Sunday, all of that seems to change.  And I think that’s too bad.

Even now, as our family has become part of a new church where we’ve grown to love the sound doctrine and the dear people, it bugs me that when I take my kids to their Sunday school class, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a “person of color.”

That was one of the things that Pastor Smith and Living Word Church got right.

At Living Word, I loved the way our differences melted away as we worshipped the Lord together.  I loved the fact that my “white-bread” 7-year-old’s best friends at church were girls from different cultural groups-and she didn’t even realize it.  I loved how our own circle of friends was comprised of people from many different backgrounds, and our differences weren’t an obstacle to our fellowship.  I loved that when the congregation gathered together, we were a vivid mosaic of colors making up the body of Christ, which is, after all, the way that heaven itself is going to be. 

What we brought to the table culturally was secondary to the table itself.  And I think that was highly pleasing to the Lord.

I also think, though-in fact, I don’t just “think,” I KNOW-that Pastor Smith was fully aware of the attractiveness of his church’s diversity.  He’d often trumpet our diversity from the pulpit, lapsing into more careless grammar as he’d shout, “It don’t matter if you’re black, white, yellow, or purple.  It only matters that we bless the Lord and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.”

The congregation would cheer madly, and we’d embrace each other or give high-fives all around.

Pastor Smith was fully aware of the diversity, and I also think he liked to exploit it for his own purposes.

Because, in addition to the whole Amway connection, one of the other seemingly random things that made us stop and evaluate everything we’d experienced at Living Word Church was something that Pastor Smith happened to say in a meeting he had with my husband.  During that meeting, Smith actually uttered the words, “You know, you do have to pastor blacks differently than you do whites.”

When my husband came home from that meeting, he was so bugged by that statement-and all of its implications-that he mentioned it to me, and we had a good discussion, trying to figure out what Pastor Smith actually meant by it.

You see, if Pastor Smith really DID employ different methods to “pastor” people of different ethnicities, then to us, it seemed to show that all of this cultural diversity and unity was manufactured.  This harmony was engineered.  And that involved manipulation.

Yet another thing that we loved about Living Word Church was actually less the product of the Holy Spirit and more about Pastor Smith and how he used people.

We really don’t want to be overly cynical.  We really don’t want to think ill of Pastor Smith when there’s no reason to.  But what on earth could he have meant by the statement that he needed to “pastor” whites differently than he “pastors” blacks?  And if he’s being deliberately different in how he interacts with people of different cultures, then Living Word isn’t the “color-blind” place that Smith tries to say that it is.

Again-tell us what you think.  Do you think that a real true minister of the Gospel should feel the need to treat people differently, based upon their ethnic background?  Based upon their skin color?  If so, why is that?  Is that how the Apostles in the New Testament preached the Gospel?  We don’t think so, but we’re wondering what others think…especially our brothers and sisters in Christ who aren’t white and who have more insight than we do on this subject. 

So give us some feedback here.

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One of the most confusing aspects of our journey out of Charismania and Living Word Church [YET AGAIN FOR THE RECORD, “LIVING WORD” AND “PASTOR SMITH” ARE NOT REAL NAMES] has been figuring out what to think of Pastor Smith’s prophecies. 

When we first began attending church there, we didn’t even realize what a big deal it was when Pastor Smith “pulled out” my husband and “prophesied over him.”  Although we sensed at the time that the exercise was more than just a word of encouragement, we didn’t understand its magnitude in the eyes of the rest of the church. 

When, a week later, two very sweet ladies presented my husband with transcripts of that “word,” we then began to grasp that these people actually thought that God had spoken to my husband through Pastor Smith.  What Pastor Smith had given my husband was, in their thinking, a message directly from God Himself.

Neither of us was a cessationist.  It made more sense to us that the gifts mentioned in the Bible were still in operation today, rather than that an unchanging God had suddenly cut them off without explanation.  In fact, if you’re going to go by a straightforward reading of the Bible alone, apart from personal or historical experience, the cessationist view requires far more Scripture-twisting than does believing that the gift of prophecy continues.

But even so-despite our believing that the gift of prophecy might continue-we were somewhat confused about the transcripts we’d been handed. 

What WAS this, that Pastor Smith had spoken over my husband?  Was it really the voice of God Himself speaking to us? 

The “prophecy” itself was nothing terribly earth-shattering.  I remember that it mentioned how my husband had been hurt by key people in his life, but that God was planting him “in this house” to where he would become like one of the pillars of the house.  He would have a special anointing, a “father’s anointing,” to minister to people. 

It sounded good.  It sure was something I’d have liked to believe (at that point) that God was saying to us.  But we sort of set it aside for awhile, deciding we’d wait and see.

A couple of months later, my husband was “pulled out” again and given another “word.”  Again, the same thing happened-the two nice ladies gave us a transcript of this second “word.”  But by this time, lured and lulled by all the credible and prosperous-looking people who were cheering all around us, we became part of the believing crowd.    

We’d seen so many others-including Pastor Smith’s own family members-crumple in tears over his prophecies, or dance for joy, that we finally concluded we’d had the amazing privilege to have stumbled upon a real true prophet! 

But as I’ve said here before, after more time had gone by (I think it might have been a year or two, but it could have been less than that), I began to notice a pattern in the “words” that “God” would speak through Pastor Smith. 

Honestly, Pastor Smith seemed to follow some sort of template for his prophecies.  For instance, if you were a young black man, you’d probably be told that the devil had tried to take you out.  If you were a woman, Smith would declare, “The Lord has seen your prayers, my daughter.”  Men would often be told they were going to be great soul winners, would have a “father’s anointing,” would reach out to the hurting.  Women were almost as often told that they would minister to young ladies, would comfort them like a mother comforts her children.

Very VERY rarely, Pastor Smith would give specific details in his prophecies.  But most of the time, the stuff he said-very often in the first person, like the very voice of God Himself was coming out of Smith’s mouth-was pretty generic.  Seemingly harmless, but generic.

I mean, Smith was careful not to declare stuff like, “You, sir, are going to marry this lady.”  He steered clear of anything that could get messy.  Often, he’d even ask a couple if they WERE married, because I sensed he was wanting to avoid mistakenly assuming they were husband and wife and possibly giving them an incorrect “word.” 

Every once in awhile, the little questioning voice in my head, the voice that I could never quite silence, would whisper to me, “If he’s speaking for God, why doesn’t God tell him beforehand if the couple is married?  If he knows prophetic stuff about them, why doesn’t he know that?”

But it’s so easy to slip into group-think!  As I’d look around at all the absolute “true believers” around me, I’d shrug off such questions.

Then, as I’ve mentioned a few times here, Pastor Smith gave my husband a prophecy that actually contained specific information.  The prophecy mentioned a specific event within a specific time frame.  We were highly excited about this “word,” because it seemed to be a direct answer to a tough situation we were facing at the time.  For a week or two, we really believed that we were about to see a dramatic answer to our prayers.  After all, Pastor Smith had specifically said so.  

But then the time frame came and went, and nothing even remotely like what Smith had said came to pass.  We were disappointed, confused, befuddled.  How do you deal with inaccurate prophecies? 

We wondered what other people did in instances like this.  How do you continue to be a “true believer” in Smith’s prophetic abilities after you’ve learned firsthand that on at least some occasions, he “misses”?  Smith had never given any explanation for (or even a mention of) his “misses,” other than when, obliquely, he’d talked about how the “devil could steal your ‘word’ if you don’t have the faith to receive it.”

We’d certainly had faith.  So that explanation didn’t work for us.

Actually, unless you’d had an experience like ours, you’d come away from Living Word Church with the impression that Smith was always accurate, NEVER wrong in his prophecies.  Smith was extremely authoritative in the way he’d march down from the platform, microphone in hand, and with absolute certainty, pull someone out of the audience and then begin to declare, “The Lord thy God would say unto thee…”   

Then, like I’ve said, he’d proceed to prophesy in the first person, as though God Himself were speaking.

Maybe it was naïve, but I always just KNEW that Smith wouldn’t DARE not be 100% sure of what he was saying.  I mean, how could anyone presume to speak in the very voice of the One True Living God and NOT be 100% positive?  If you really believe that God is still exactly the way He was in the Bible (as Smith professes to believe), wouldn’t you be fearing for your life, looking over your shoulder for lightning bolts, if you spoke in the voice of God but happened to “miss”? 

We discovered, after Smith gave us that obviously incorrect prophecy, that we could never quite view his “prophetic gifting” in the same way again.  We began to notice, more and more, how vague most of his “words” were.  We also saw the undeniable similarities among the different prophecies he’d give.

To this day, we still don’t know exactly what to think of Smith’s kind of prophecy.  In many respects, it seems like a dubious exercise at best.  In other respects, I suppose it’s OK-at least, what harm could there be?-for people to receive a prophecy like the following, which we found posted on someone’s website, a prophecy from Pastor Smith that the recipient is obviously quite excited about.  What do YOU, dear reader, think of the following Smith prophecy?  

I hope you realize how supernatural your planting in this house is. I hope you realize how God geographically put you right where you needed to be. That you can bear fruit, flourish, and be all that God wants you to be. Because I meant to tell you sir, that if there is anybody that I have met in the past few hours, days, or weeks that God has radically turned around, transformed, and reorganized dreams, visions, thoughts, and aspirations; it is you. Because you are a different man today than you were a few years ago. You had a plan that was totally different from God’s plan, but this girl right here knew that God had something better, and she was just determined to grab a hold of the horns of the altar to see if the devil could pry her loose. And she stood in the gap and made up the hedge, and now you are just flowing in the Holy Ghost with a burden, with a passion. God is using both of you, and I am telling you something; the fruit the two of you are getting ready to bear is unprecedented to any day in your past.

There is an anointing, an anointing, an anointing, do you hear me? There is burden removing, yoke destroying anointing that is going to flow through your hands. You are going to lay your hands on young people, lay your hands on college age kids and they are going to get born again, filled with the Holy Ghost, set free. I don’t understand what this is all about, but I am telling you something. There is a spirit, there is a spirit, there is a spirit of a father on you, there is a spirit of a mother on you. You are a man and woman of God that will have many children in the kingdom. When I put my hands on you tonight, my friend, there is a new level of anointing that is going to flow into you. You will not walk out of here the same way that you walked in. Because, I am telling you, God is going to send young men into your path that you are going to be a voice of a father to them that they never had. God said that what people were not to you, you are going to become that to them. Every hurt, every heartache, every battle of your past has not been purposeless, it has been to forge you into a man that would sire greatness into this next generation of the kingdom.God said I have put so much mercy in you that it flows like a river, woman of God. And that mercy will be the healing balm of Gilead. For young ladies that feel like there is no way that they can be worth anything, but God said today a new wine, a fresh oil, and holy fire is all over you saith the Lord.

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