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.