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Archive for October, 2008

Pastor Smith is still at it.  He’s still preaching what amounts to a “different gospel.”

I don’t know why this surprises me.  We’re a few months shy of the two-year anniversary of our leaving Living Word Church (a pseudonym, as are all other names mentioned in this post), and every time I check in and listen to a Pastor Smith sermon on iTunes, he’s still saying essentially the same stuff.  He’s still prophesying “great financial overflow” and a “great end-times harvest” for Living Word.  He’s still giving sermons based mostly on Old Testament passages and random New Testament verses plucked completely out of context.  He’s still teaching heavily on tithing. 

I’m not sure why this continual focus on money at Living Word continues to surprise me.  After all, we left because we had little hope that Pastor Smith would quit preaching the “Prosperity Gospel.”  We were pretty sure that he probably wouldn’t embrace more Biblical teachings anytime soon.  Otherwise, we would not have moved on.  So it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for me to think that somehow he’d have a sudden change of heart almost two years later.

But I guess I continue to harbor hope that things at Living Word might shift back to the Bible and the truth.  After all, if several years pass and Pastor Smith’s prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, you’d think that maybe he’d eventually shift his focus off of great financial overflow and onto the true good news of Christ…especially if many people in his congregation have recently lost a lot of money in the stock market. 

I was very curious to listen to his most recent sermon available on iTunes, a sermon delivered just after the last rotten week on Wall Street.  Pastor Smith HAD been preaching a series about a “prophetic word” that the Lord had supposedly given him recently – about how the “drought” was broken and that soon, economic “dry times” were going to be replaced by a season of “much rain” (or in other words, much money). 

Considering that just about all the economic news in recent days has been bad news, I was wondering how Pastor Smith would reconcile that recent sermon series with what by all accounts is the simple harsh reality of life for most people.  Would he dig deeper and proclaim for his congregation that the true Gospel, the true “Good News,” is about more than money?  Would he offer them REAL hope – a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us – in the face of discouraging economic news?

Unfortunately, the answer to those questions is a big fat “NO.”  In his most recent sermon, Pastor Smith simply hunkered down and dug his heels even more deeply into the “prosperity gospel.”  I almost could not believe my ears as I listened.  I found what he said to be so outrageous, and so full of subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – deceptions that I decided to transcribe the entire thing. 

Yes, I know this is very long, but for your consideration, here is an exact transcript of what Pastor Smith preached to the congregation of Living Word Church a couple of weeks ago (my comments, where I can’t refrain from making them, will appear in blue):

TRANSCRIPT OF PASTOR SMITH’S SERMON FROM OCTOBER 12, 2008

And I want you to get your Bibles, I want you to go to I Kings the eighteenth chapter and uh, first kings the eighteenth chapter, and the seventeenth verse.  And I’m not gonna read the whole segment, I’m gonna read 3 or 4 verses to you to save some time, and then I’ll refer to some other verses as I progress on.

In I Kings 18 verse 17, it says,

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.

Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.

So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

I want you, you to be seated.  A few weeks ago, and – I really want to approach this message that I’m getting ready to preach to you, uh, not in a serious or boring kind of way, but with a seriousness.  I’m getting ready to deliver some things to you that he that hath an ear, let him hear.  Because I am well aware of the gravity of what is happening in our nation.  My head is not stuck in the sand.  And I listen to it from the conservative side, the liberal side, I, uh, I’m listening to it as I talk to people in my circle of relationships that are involved in the banking industry, uh, the stock market, uh, in, in, massive business developments and things like this.  And so, before I get into this today, I want you to understand, I’m not living on some little faith island that says I have no reality check of what is happening to the left hand and to the right hand.  How many understand that on an economic level, America is in some serious times?  I wanna say something to you, and I don’t want you to receive it, I don’t want you to receive it in just an evangelistic, emotional way.

THE DROUGHT IS BROKEN!

Now, you say, “Pastor, there’s just absolutely – the stock market hit lows like it has never hit in the history of the stock market since the Depression, we are seeing things happening, shifts, uh, the, the, rescue or bail-out plan, whichever we want to call it, doesn’t seem to be impacting the economy the way that it should.  Fear and panic selling is at an all-time high on the stock market.  We have got some deep trouble.

Now for me not to acknowledge that would prove that I am ignorant.  And I am not ignorant.  But I want you to understand something, when there was no evidence of breakthrough, and when there was no evidence of anything shifting or anything changing, the prophet said, “I hear the sound of an abundance of rain.”

Now ladies and gentlemen, we are facing some times that can have a trickle-down impact – and probably “trickle” is not an appropriate word – a flow-down impact that impacts every sector of society.  But I don’t know why God spoke to me the way that He did.  Because back on the last day of August, technically, uh, earmarking the first day of September before any of this stuff begin to happen, the Spirit of the Lord spoke something to me.  He said, “Over the next hundred days, you will see some of the most unprecedented things happen.” 

Some of you never come to Sunday night services, so I have to relay some things that God speaks prophetically in that service.  And God begin to prophesy to us that over the next one hundred days, we would see unprecedented things begin to happen.  We would see legislations that we never thought would be passed.  And – and – and – and – the Lord prefaced in, in the prophecy, this does not have to do with the election, this has to do with the circumstantial surroundings of your nation.  And, but the Lord told us in that word not to be afraid.  He told us in that word that He would make a way where there seemed to be no way.  Now all of a sudden – this is before the 778 point drop that hit, because God begin to speak to me, then, the drought was broken.  So I go and plow in and say, “Let’s preach a series on this.”  So when I preached the first part of it, “I hear the sound of an abundance of rain,” the next day the stock market falls 778 points. 

Y’say, “Pastor, you just missed it.”  No I didn’t miss it.  Cuz you’ve gotta understand something.  There are words in season, and then there are words out of season.  Y’say, “What do you mean by that?”  When you are standing here today, we are in the fall of the year, but how many understand, the next season is winter.  And then the season after that is spring, and then the season after that is summer.  God spoke a word out of due season.  And that word specifically said to you, “I’m going to break this drought.”  [Charismania says:  Let’s just assume that Pastor Smith “heard” correctly, and God really did speak this “word” to him.  I’m curious to know why Pastor Smith automatically assumes that an “abundance of rain” MUST mean an abundance of MONEY or financial security?]

Now the Holy Ghost begin to deal with me about some things.  And – I’ve gotta lay the groundwork here because I think sometimes people think preachers just preach things to stir people up.  Oh, I like to stir you up, but I got a whole lot more substance than I do style.  [Charismania says:  I find it interesting that Pastor Smith makes statements like this one.  To me, this particular sermon is hugely lacking in substance and is MOSTLY about “stirring people up.”  I can’t help but think that Pastor Smith has GOT to know this.  He’s GOT to be aware that this message is nearly devoid of Scriptural backing and any serious exposition of God’s Word.  So the question becomes, is he willfully deceiving his audience with this statement?] 

The Lord begin to deal with me about something.  He said, “If America in the church will believe me, I will honor their seed.”  And a lot of you are always sowing seed as individuals believing God for personal harvest, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but all of a sudden the Lord begin to let me see the collective seed of the American church.  Now I’m not talking about, uh, all the little – uh, those, those things are factoring what the heart and the kindness of our nation and the Christianity of our nation of things that happen with organizations like Red Cross, ek-cetra, ek-cetra.  But the Lord begin to deal with me, He said, “If my people will not allow the spirit of fear to grab hold of them and walk in faith, I will honor their seed and I will reverse the curse.”  [Charismania says:  Does anybody else find it fascinating – like I do – that Pastor Smith claims that “God” is telling him that “sowing seed” (which of course means giving money) is a condition for “reversing the curse”?  Or, in other words, that if people want the stock market to rebound and the financial news to get better, they must keep donating?]

[applause]

Y’say, “Pastor, things are tough.”  I know that.  But I’ve gotta, I gotta talk to you from the Holy Spirit.  Cuz you are hearing every other voice speak to you about doom and gloom, despair, defeat, you’re gonna lose it all, everything’s going under, your retirement plans are gonna be destroyed, the futures of your businesses are gonna be impacted, and the Lord keeps speaking to me, “I hear a sound of an abundance of rain.”  I hear something through the Spirit.  This is not some hot flash nor cold chill.  God has begun to speak, and He said, “I am going to examine the seed of the nation.  And because this nation has not been afraid to sow seed to preach the gospels in the darkest corners of the world, I will not withhold my hand of blessing.”  [Charismania says:  A part of me wants to buy what Pastor Smith is peddling here.  But another part of me, the part that knows the Bible pretty well, would have to ask WHY.  And WHERE.  Where in the Bible would we ever find such a promise, that if we give money to religious organizations, that will automatically mean that God will give US “financial overflow”?  Did the Apostle Paul or any of the other disciples experience such a “hand of blessing” – in terms of finances – anywhere in the New Testament? 

This is the danger, when we equate “God’s hand of blessing” with financial prosperity – because we do not see such outcomes in the New Testament church.  We have no Biblical record of the early Christians’ having hugely successful businesses or amassing great wealth because they preached the Gospel or supported ministries that preached the Gospel.  The true message of Christ initially brought those early Christians great trials. 

If a drop in the stock market could cause Pastor Smith to believe his audience is questioning whether or not he’d actually heard from God when he gave them the prophecy about “the sound of much rain,” then getting driven underground or being fed to the lions would certainly not jive with Pastor Smith’s definition of prosperity (“much rain”) that he seems to think God has promised. 

So to me, the question becomes, why should we ever believe that the lifestyle consequences of coming to faith in Christ would be so utterly different now than they were in the New Testament?  I wish Pastor Smith would explain how the Bible – particularly the New Testament – supports the notion that a “strong economy” is our right as Christians these days, when the early church suffered so much persecution.  For a pastor who often gets the crowd shouting with proclamations about how “God never changes” (when he’s wanting support for the notion of miracles as an everyday occurrance, or for speaking in tongues), I’m curious about how he can reconcile why God would make life for today’s Christians so much easier than He did for the early church.] 

You say, “Pastor, listen, we have got a problem, that this is hap -”

Listen.  Understand.  The root of all evil is the love of money.  [Charismania says:  I would dearly love to hear how Pastor Smith defines what it means to “love” money…and what it looks like to NOT “love” money.  We were faithful members of Living Word Church for several years, and I can say that in all that time, we were never taught anything other than that “God’s blessings” ultimately equaled financial success. 

We were taught to seek after financial success.  Financially successful people in the congregation were singled out for honor and leadership.  We were taught that our pastor NEEDED to live in a luxurious mansion and drive top-of-the-line $80,000 vehicles, because if he did not lead a moneyed lifestyle, we would not have someone modeling for us what it meant to live in “blessing.”

Living Word folks were specifically TAUGHT to love money and to think that it’s always better to have MORE money.  Therefore,  I think it is especially confusing for Pastor Smith to quote this verse without further explanation.]   

Uh, you think I’ve just been talking, but I’ve been going right back to where I’m starting at.  Ahab comes in.  He said, “You’re the one that’s troubling Israel.”  And the prophet looks right back at him and says, “I’m not causing any trouble.  The reason we’re in the mess we’re in is because of the ineptitude of leadership and the immorality and the paganism that you have brought to this nation.” 

When I think about keys to you breaking your drought?  I wanna say this to you.  You got to confront the source of the drought.  [Charismania says:  OK, it is pretty clear, here, that Pastor Smith most definitely considers this “drought” to be about a lack of financial prosperity.  In the following 2 paragraphs, he goes on to muse about what is NOT the “source of the drought,” and it’s ALL financial in nature.  I point this out because there really can now be no doubt that the “much rain” Smith mentions in his original prophecy must mean “much money.”]  Now, you’d say, “Well, the Republicans did it.”  Depends on what political party you like.  If you’re a Democrat, it’s all the Republicans’ fault.  And if you’re a Republican, it’s all the Democrats’ fault.  Cuz really doesn’t have anything to do with all the political spin we put on everything, it just depends on who you’re listening to.  Because if you listen to CNN, it’s all the Republicans’ fault.  If you listen to Fox News, it’s all the Democrats’ fault.  If you listen to our liberal, uh, broadcasters, it – it – it’s President Bush and the Republicans’ fault.  If you listen to our conservative broadcasters, it’s all the Democrats’ fault because they didn’t at –

Really, everybody kinda screwed up here.  Believe me, there’s enough blame to pass around to every party and every faction of the Senate, Congress, and the Executive level.  Believe me, nobody’s hands are clean in the mess that we’re in.  Now, get this.  But understand something.  This isn’t about flesh.  No, now I’m gonna go spiritual today because you have had enough carnal hurled at you.  I’m gonna go spiritual on you right now.  What is sweeping our nation right now is a spirit of panic and fear.  It was the same spirit that swep our nation at nine eleven, and when they hit those towers at nine eleven, and, and the World Trade Centers clapsed, it was not just the fear of a terrorist attack, it was the fear of our whole economic structure and what happened, the economy went into the tank.  Real estate went into the tank.  Wall Street went into the tank, Main Street went into the tank.  Why?  Because fear spread throughout the nation.

What is fear, fear is a spirit.  It’s not an emotional knee-jerk reaction, it is a spirit.  You have got highly educated intelligent people making irrational moves at the helms of companies, people selling off stocks at bargain basement prices when in their head they ought to know there will be a rebound, what’s happening?  Fear is infecting our nation.  Fear is a spirit.  You wanna take your time pointing your fingers at Bush, at the Republicans, at the Democrats, at the Congress, at the Senate, I’m going to the source of the problem, and I believe it’s about time for the church to rise up and take authority over the spirit of fear and over the spirit of the devourer.  [Charismania says:  I can sort of agree with Pastor Smith as he speaks about the “spirit of fear.”  But WHY are people so afraid?  WHY are people selling off stocks out of fear?  Don’t they sell because they are operating out of greed – rooted in fear – that they won’t get as much money for their stocks if they postpone selling for another day or even another hour?  And aren’t people afraid BECAUSE they are putting their faith in money? 

Wouldn’t true faith in God demonstrate itself in the idea that EVEN IF THE ECONOMY FAILS EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD, God’s truth will still prevail, God will still take care of His children, and His name will still be glorified?]

[audience applauds and cheers]

Y’say, “Pastor, the economy of our nation is at stake.”  You are right.  And the economy of the world is at stake.  Because every other stock market in the world is being impacted by the impacting of what we are seeing happening.  The stock market in Brazil is down, the stock market in the Asian markets is down, the European stock markets are down.  Everybody is in what?  A panic.

And who’s gonna rise up while the devil is running herd?  In realms and in ways that all these brilliant folks don’t understand? 

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!

[audience applauds and cheers]

[Charismania says:  Here we get at the heart of what is wrong with Pastor Smith’s message.  And that is that while yes, an economic meltdown is a terrible thing, who is to say that a “strong economy” is ALWAYS God’s will for His people?  Why is a strong economy evidence of God’s blessing?  Isn’t the whole message of the Gospel that life is about more than this world?  That eternal life is more important than any measure of financial success?]

Say now, you’re gonna have to turn off your logic right now, and you’re gonna have to start hearing not with these ears, but your inner ear.  The prophet said, “I know, I know who the source of this famine is, and it’s not me.  It’s you.”  The first thing you’re gonna have to do if you want to see – cuz I believe God can give you harvest if nobody else wants it, you can get your harvest.  If nobody else’s business wants to trust God, I believe you can trust God and somehow some way, as the Word said, “I will make a way in the wilderness and a stream to flow in the desert.”  Said, “I will bring a pool out of parched ground.”  We have got parched ground, we have a desert right now.  We have a wilderness right now, and what are we gonna do?  [Charismania says:  So would Pastor Smith then say that the New Testament church, with all its trials and persecution and economic instability, was also a “desert,” a “parched ground”?  How, then, did the Christian faith ever get off the ground?  Why did the Gospel spread, if financial hard times are a “wilderness”?]  Are we gonna lay down and die, or are we gonna rise up and fight?  I’m not talking about a letter to Senator So-and-So, I’m talking about shutting the prayer closet door and rebuking the devourer.  Every time you tithe, every time you give, you rebuke the devourer.  When you go into your prayer closet, wise up in the Holy Spirit and say, “You foul devouring source that is trying to suck my career, my business, my investments under, I take authority over you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth!”

[crowd cheers]

Y’say, “There’s a drought.  There can’t be blessing in the drought.”  Do you realize Egypt prospered more in the drought  than they did in the seven years of plenty.  Why?  Because one man had the ear of – had an ear to hear what the Spirit was saying.  One man named Joseph could hear what the Holy Ghost was saying, and the Holy Ghost said, “I’ll preserve this nation if you will do these things.”  [Charismania says:  I am quite suspicious here that with this segue, Pastor Smith is attempting to promote himself and his prophetic ability.  I could be wrong – I hope that I am wrong – but I distinctly sense in this statement that Pastor Smith is trying to plant the idea in his listeners that because he himself, like Joseph, is “one man who has an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying,” then THEY, like Egypt, will “prosper in the drought.”]

Now, I’m not expecting some atheist businessman to get this.  I’m not expecting some agnostic or some mind-over-matter, “I am so intelligent, I am so intellectual, I am so educated, I know everything about everything.”  Those kind of people don’t never grab anything because they are so – excuse me – so doggone analytical, intellectual, that they can’t move in faith.  These are the times when God shows up!  [Charismania says:  One thing that we heard again and again during our years at Living Word Church was a complete disdain for analytical thought.  It was only after we left that it suddenly occurred to me that the BIBLE never teaches such disdain.  So I had to ask myself, if Scripture does not mock analytical thought – as long as such thinking begins with the fear of the Lord and is renewed in Christ Jesus – then it’s likely that there’s another, less Christian, reason for Pastor Smith to continually put down human thinking skills.  It’s now my suspicion that Pastor Smith discourages analytical thinking, because without such a total suspension of logic, his church people would be able to see through the manipulation inherent in the “Prosperity Gospel.”]

You say, “Well, those guys, they run their companies in the ground and get a sixty million dollar parachute.”  Get your mind off that STUFF!  What you need to get focused on right now is, if God is in you, and faith is in you, you may make thirty, forty thousand dollars a year, and what you’re believing for is that your company stays functioning to where you have a job in 2009.  Or you may have a company that generates millions and tens of millions of dollars and you are concerned about how you’re gonna navigate through the transition of this moment.  Or you may be somebody that sales is your resource.  That you’ve got to get out there in the marketplace and you’ve got to sell your product if you’re gonna earn a living.  Are you following what I’m saying?  It hits the blue collar, it hits the white collar.  It hits the business owner, it hits the employee.  It hits the middle income bracket, it hits the upper income bracket.  But somewhere, God is looking for a people – “I sought for a man that would stand in the gap and would make up the hedge.”  And in, that day, He said, “But I found none.”  But I believe that right here, in this room, there is a people that will stand in the gap and make up the hedge.  [Charismania says:  When God was looking for people to “stand in the gap and make up the hedge,” was God REALLY referring to people who would go out and have a positive attitude about their workplaces?  Is THAT what “standing in the gap” means?] 

[audience claps and cheers]

[Pastor Smith mimics a listener, as he says,] “Now what are you trying to do, rally the troops?”  Well, I sure don’t want you to wave a white flag of surrender. 

I sure don’t want you to throw up your hands and say, “Because Anderson Cooper said something, I’m giving up.”  I don’t want you to git all bent out of shape because of Katie Couric.  I don’t want you to git all bent out of shape cuz you’re afraid because somebody said this or that, that that is the end-all.  I believe we’ve heard a sound of an abundance of rain, and we’d better take what God’s saying!

[audience claps and cheers]

Say, “You just, uh, you just live in your little religious world.”  Listen.  This church operates through the tithe and the offerings of people.  If you don’t have no money, you don’t have no tithe.  I know that’s a shock.  If all of sudden I come out here one week later, and fifty percent of my church is unemployed, you think the resources are going up?  I mean in the natural, no.  But do you think I’m gonna wave the white flag and say, “We’re done”?  [Charismania says:  Isn’t there some middle ground between “waving the white flag” and attempting to boost people’s confidence in their rosy economic future (by trumpeting the supposed upcoming “abundance of rain”)? 

Wouldn’t Living Word’s people be better served if Pastor Smith were to bring a TRUE word of encouragement, by going back to what the Bible has to say about money?  Wouldn’t it be better, and more Scriptural, to exhort the people with a different message, that EVEN WHEN WE LOSE EVERYTHING FINANCIALLY, we can still have the joy of our salvation?] 

Now, if I wouldn’t a heard what I heard from God, back before all this happen, I might be a little edgy right now.  Now – he said, “I know where the trouble’s from.  I know where the trouble is from in this issue.”  The Bible says He will rebuke the devourer for your sakes. 

The Bible tells us that as He rebukes the devourer, that your fruit basically is not gonna perish.  Read Malachi, it’s not just talking about you giving tithe, it’s talking about what God will do for you if you do it.  And I may not get off of this point, I’ve got several keys to this thing and I may have to preach the rest of it later, but I gotta get this through to you.  We have got to rise up as the salt of the earth and go to wear.  We’ve gotta fight for the salvation of the economy of our nation. 

Oh, I know, I’m just getting’ right down to – you know why?  Cuz that’s what all your minds are on.  [Charismania says:  But would the Bible say that it’s RIGHT for everyone’s minds to be dwelling on the bad economy?  Wouldn’t the Bible instead instruct God’s people to focus their attention on God Himself, and not the economy?  If Pastor Smith really is God’s mouthpiece – i.e., a “prophet” – then why is he delivering a message that he admits is a reaction to people’s preoccupation with economic news (a preoccupation that is NOT Scriptural)?  Wouldn’t a true prophet instead first base his message upon what the Bible has to say, rather than just upon what’s on people’s carnal minds?]  Don’t kid me.  Unless you got fifty million dollars stuck in a sock someplace, you’re probably concerned about what the next six months is gonna bring.  And I’m telling you something, the next thing that he said, “I know, I know, I know who the source is, and I know who the source is.”  Because fear is ruling our nation right now.  George Bush isn’t running the country, the Senate in’t running the country.  Congress in’t running the country, the Democrats and the Republicans, the Libertarians, the Independents aren’t running the country, FEAR is running our country right now.  Fear is running the markets, fear is running Main Street and Wall Street, fear is infecting believers in business and unbelievers in business.  Now if fear is a spirit – they want to convince you it’s an emotion, and it’s not an emotion, it’s a spirit if the Word is true.  If fear is a spirit, then how do you deal with an unclean spirit.  You take authority over it.

[crowd claps]

Now you don’t need – I don’t need one person prayin’.  We have got to rise up in the Holy Ghost.  In your prayer closet at home, in your – in our corporate prayer time – in, when you’re drivin’ down the street, when you flip on the news, and they begin to tell you this and that and the other, cuz I’m the same way as you are.  I have been saying, “God, you tell me you’re gonna break the drought.  I preach it and then it gets worse.”  And then I go to Dallas and preach it and we have the worst week in the history of the stock – I said, “God, am I losing my mind?”  And the Lord said, “Did you hear a sound from heaven?”  And I’ve got to say to you, you may crucify me three months from now, but I’m tellin’ you something, DON’T PANIC.  GOD’S GONNA MAKE A WAY WHERE THERE SEEMS TO BE NO WAY…FOR HIS PEOPLE!

[Charismania says:  So essentially, the encouragement that Pastor Smith gives his people is that they should not be fearful about the economy because God is going to turn things around economically. 

Is this REALLY what the Bible promises us?  Is God’s economic provision/intervention the main message of hope in His Word?]

[crowd cheers and claps]

He tells Ahab – teek shanda la bo ko sah tie [Pastor Smith interrupts himself with a sudden flood of speaking in tongues here] – he said, “Get the people up to the high place.  Get ’em up to Mount Carmel.”  First key to breaking your personal drought is, number one, you gotta confront the source of the drought.  Number two, you gotta be willing to go to a high place.  Now what I mean by that again – how many of you know I preached a series on that not too long ago? – what you have got to grab hold of, you can either live with the turkeys and the chickens.  Or you can get up into a place that is higher than ignorance or fear.

Now, again, I know a lot of you are intellectually processing through the whole thing.  But, what you have to realize, is that fear…you – you know what the part of the problem is here is that the pipes of the fluidity financially of our nation are plugged up, cuz of this whole mess.  Now, if I talked to [Pastor Smith here names a specific church member who is known as a big financial corporate executive] and have him explain it to you, he could do it much more articulately.  But just in my simple way, the pipes of the economy of America are plugged.  The bail-out was designed to get fluidity – and there’s a good reason for that term – get money FLOWING again.  Cuz everything’s plugged up.   Because all the mismanagement of things.  So businesses can’t get financing, people can’t get loans, small businesses can’t get loans.  So what all of a sudden, bam, everything’s under the grip of this thing.  Now the Word says, when you look at this, so what’s it done, it’s put fear in us.  Now, when fear grabs hold of you, what does fear do?  It plugs up faith.

So what’s happen now?  Our economy is plugged up, but the spirit realm of the church is now plugged up because we’re functioning in fear.  And fear paralyzes faith, and without faith it’s impossible to please God.  And what I’m trying to get you to understand, if you don’t take authority over fear, and if the church doesn’t take authority over fear and panic, who will?  It’s like we’ve turned the devil loose to run wild, and what is he doing?  He is causing – uh – back in the Depression, we’ve seen the pictures of people jumping out of windows, on wall street, out of skyscrapers, because everything was gone.  Panic and fear and depression and anxiety running rampant.  We’re either gonna fall into that.  And it happened at nine eleven, we were scared to fly on an airplane.  We were scared to go out of our house.  Everybody – we were looking at everybody.  We had paranoia running rampant.  We didn’t know if the, the bag that somebody was setting down next to us, and they go over to use the telephone, was full of TNT or something.  And panic set in.  And all of a sudden people’s whole lives became interrupted and disrupted because of fear.  Fear is a spirit.  You can have a peace in the midst of chaos if you will take authority over it.

Now if you don’t, then faith won’t function.  And if faith doesn’t function, we not gonna get through this. 

Hallelujah [Smith says this in a sort of ironic, mocking tone, as though he is responding to himself]

We’re not.  It’s going to be faith that unplugs the pipes of the economy.  [Charismania says:  So the ultimate object of our faith is to “get money flowing again”?]  And I’ve told you back when this thing started, that God was gonna take it on a course that when it flipped, we wouldn’t be able to explain exactly why it flipped.  Now, I am, I am not one to just set around and say, “God showed me this,” and how many know, I just preach, and if the Lord gives me something I just – but I’m tellin’ you, God has been rehearsing back into my ears the things that He spoke to me over the last few weeks since the end of August, and I’m tellin’ you, one of the things He said is, “When I do it, it will not be explainable up here, people will just say, ‘My Lord, what happened?’ foomp, it just flipped, it just shifted. 

And WE will understand something, because people will say, “Well, if they elect McCain, that’ll shift it, if they elect Obama, that will shift it.”  That in’t gonna shift it.  The only power that’s gonna shift this thing is the faith of God’s people to unplug the pipes because the faith is what moves the mountains.  We have got the biggest mountain in front of our nation that we have ever faced, and if we’re gonna move that mountain, don’t expect some intellectual setting in an office on Wall Street to figure it out.  They’re not gonna figure it out in the natural.  But by FAITH the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of wisdom will come on men, by FAITH God will begin to speak, and all of a sudden, decisions that may not even make sense will be made, and they will be the key to turn the tide.

Said, “You gotta go to a high place.”  See, because the low place says panic.  The high place says, “Get up where you can see what’s happening better.”  A few weeks ago, I preached to you, I said, the church, and people, when there’s a flood, will return to high ground.  Whenever there’s a flood, people go to high ground.  We have got to understand something.  God’s gonna bring His people back to a place of commitment to the things of the Spirit. 

Now I know a lot of you look at this in a political way, an economic way, a business way, a secular way.  I’m lookin’ at this in a big scheme of what’s more important than all that – the realms of eternity and the realms of the kingdom.  The devil is trying to cut off the blessing of this nation because if he does, it will impact the preaching of the gospel worldwide.  It will impact nations that have no way to get the gospel into their nations without people like you sowing seed and making an impact in missions and in outreach.  It will impact new churches from starting.  It will impact uh, historical churches from functioning, it will impact a church like ours from reaching out, doing more, taking on more challenges, believing God for bigger and better and greater things.  It will impact the work of the kingdom of God, and whether you understand it or not, because we kinda look at the kingdom sometimes as some kind of a thing we do when we don’t have anything else filling our schedule.  The most important thing to God is why He said, “Seek first the kingdom and my righteousness, and I will add the other things unto you.”  The most important IS the kingdom. 

[Charismania says:  OK, so here, Pastor Smith suddenly shifts gears and spiritualizes this whole quest for money and a return to economic stability.  Suddenly, seeking FINANCIAL STABILITY is “seeking first the kingdom”???  Since when????  Just because the vast majority of organized ministries do need money to maintain their operations, that does NOT mean that the “kingdom of God” can be equated with those organized ministries – or therefore, dependent upon MONEY – to keep going.  This line of reasoning reveals that Pastor Smith has some ideas about what the “kingdom of God” is that are simply NOT Scriptural.]

And so the Lord looks at all of our – uh – at the – the lukewarmness, He looks at all of the circumstances that are happening to the left hand and to the right hand, and somewhere, we gonna come to high ground again.  Somewhere people are going to say, “I am scared to death, I don’t know what’s going to happen, I am so fearful, I don’t know what my future’s gonna hold,” and all of a sudden, something called the Holy Ghost will begin to come upon them, and they will begin to say, “You’ve got to get into a house where faith is preached, you have got to get someplace that this torment breaks off of you, and this little place you’re in, that is the pulpit is filled by somebody that’s immoral, the pulpit is filled with somebody that agrees with things that God is diametrically opposed to, is not cuttin’ it.  That’s why you’re still dead, that’s why you’re still tormented, that’s why you’re still dry.”  [Charismania says:  Here it’s interesting to observe that Pastor Smith puts in a blatant plug for Living Word Church.  Without directly saying so, the clear implication nonetheless is that “getting up to higher ground” means going to a church like Living Word.  Pastor Smith is essentially saying that attending Living Word Church – “getting up to a higher place” – is the second step in “breaking the drought.”]  I’ve got news for you, the flood has hit.  But when the flood hits, people are gonna find high ground.  The fire has hit.  But like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we are gonna walk in the midst of the fire, and in the midst of the fire, the fourth man is gonna begin to talk to us, and we are going to hear what the Spirit is saying.

[crowd cheers and claps]

A high place.  You live in the basement, you’ll get depressed.  You live on the street, you’re gonna panic.  You go to the high place, you’ll just simply say, “I’ve done all I can do to stand, and I am gonna keep standing!” 

[crowd claps]

He told them to go to a higher place.  I don’t know how far I’ll get here today.  Then he said, “How long halt ye between two opinions?”  Now right now, folks, you gotta make up your mind.  You either gonna believe God, or you’re not. 

[crowd claps]

Oh, don’t kid yourself.  The ministries all across America, men standing in pulpits, just like I am, all across America, are facing the reality.  Are we gonna believe God and live, or we gonna get bound by fear and die?

[Charismania says:  Definitely, watching the U.S. economy fall apart is not fun.  It’s not especially cheerful or joyous.  Who among us would actually CHOOSE to suffer through financial devastation?  I certainly wouldn’t!  BUT…if our salvation – “believing God and living” – is somehow connected to the fate of the stock market, then what sort of “gospel” do we even profess?]

Now, that word “halt” – and I brought this up in another sermon I preached – when you study out the eighteenth chapter of First Kings, it talked about in this segment, how many recall, the prophets of Baal had their little show they put on.  And it talked about the prophets of Baal leaping on and off the altar.  So they’d get up on the altar, and they’d dance and cut themselves and carry on and scream and holler, they’d do their little deal, and they’d jump off the altar.  It’s weird, because the word “leaped,” in that context, and – when you read it, in the eighteenth chapter of First Kings, and the word, “halted,” come from the same Hebrew word. 

Well y’say, “Those two words don’t really make sense.”  Well, if you understand the essence of the meaning, the word “halted” there really means, how long will you go back and forth between two opinions?  Now here’s where the battleground’s gonna be.  Right now in the church, under the presence of God, under the anointing of God, with me, with the hammer out, faith is gonna get stirred in you.  That’s what I’m here for.  I’m here – faith cometh by hearing, right?  OK.  Faith cometh by hearing.  And the Word says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for.”  So faith comes by hearing.  So right now, you’re hearing me speak what I believe with every fiber of my being God spoke to me, and what my speaking to you is activating faith in you.  Faith is the substance – that word “substance” means “foundation” – of things hoped for.  Now, I speak to you, faith gets activated, substance is foundation, which is what faith is.  Faith is the foundation of your vision of your tomorrows.  Now, you’re either gonna get into your tomorrow in panic, or you’re gonna stand on a foundation of faith and hope and vision. 

Now, I’m not putting a date on the calendar, ladies and gentlemen, but I do know God spoke to me within that hundred-day period, that we were gonna see amazing unique unusual things like we have never seen before in the history of our nation.  How many believe that’s already manifested?  The other side of it, that He said in that, is that miraculous things were going to transact.  You say there’s no way anything can happen by the first part of December.  I’m not saying, exclusively, that it will.  But what I am saying is that it is not a time to lose hope. 

It is not a time to tank your dreams and visions.  It is not a time for you to prepare to go under.  Because what you are doing in doing that – you have given way to the panic, and the panic will not move the mountain that impacts us all.  This mountain will not be moved by one man of God, this mountain will not be moved by one dear mother in the prayer closet interceding.  This mountain will not be moved by two or three intercessors.  This mountain is going to be moved by God’s people rising up and saying, “Devil, you are a liar,” God’s people rising up and saying, “I’m going to the high place,” God’s people rising up and saying, “Satan, I know one thing, that I will not be halted between two opinions.  I’m not going back and forth.  I am on the Lord’s side.  I am on the Lord’s side.”

[Charismania says:  How did we get to the place where being on the Lord’s side is automatically equated with economic prosperity?]

No, nobody’s hearing me now.  I am on the Lord’s side.  He is Jehovah Jireh, He is who the Word says He is.  I am on the Lord’s side.  And people, this is not a problem that just impacts you.  It is a problem that impacts all of us.  And we’re gonna have to knit our spirits together and say, “Satan, get thee behind us,” I don’t care if anybody can figure out how it’s gonna happen, I don’t know how, but I do know, I hear a sound of an abundance of rain!

[crowd claps]

Say, “This, this hard for me to believe.”  Faith cometh by hearing.  I’m not gonna tell you to go get your survival sausage.  I’ve been through that Y2K garbage.  Panic, another panic attack we had.  Y2K.  Y2K, Y2K, panic everywhere, people had water in their basements.  My Lord, the only – you know, people, paid fortunes on some generators, cuz everybody was panicked.  The power’s gonna go out.  Don’t be on an airplane during Y2K.  You – all your records for your business are going down.  “America won’t be ready on time, it’s all over with!”  Panic, panic, panic.  The market got impacted.  Main Street got impacted.  YOU got impacted, cuz you STILL got that water in your basement you got eight years ago.  You still got your Y2K water.  You still got your Y2K survival sausage.  You still got it.  And you know why you got it?  Because you panicked. 

“But what if it would have – ”  But it didn’t!  And all you did was get phobic.  Fear hath torment.  People couldn’t even come to the New Year’s Eve service that year because they were scared that the world was going to come to an end at twelve o’clock.  You know what I was doing at twelve o’clock?  I was shoutin’ and dancin’ and praisin’ God and drinkin’ sparkling cider.  And you know what, the world didn’t come to an end, and you know what, the world is not coming to an end now.  Our economy is not coming to an end.  God is gonna make a way, God is gonna help us.  Because there is a seed that has been sown that has not yet been harvested.

[Charismania says:  Here is the heart of Pastor Smith’s message – that the economy is not coming to an end, that God is gonna make a way, that God is gonna help us…and all because people have been faithful in their giving.

But is that what the Bible would tell us?  And is that TRUE HOPE?  Is that TRUE GOOD NEWS?]

Oh I know I bumpin’ your logic right now, I am bumpin’ your logic button right now.  But I am trying to shift you out of the natural into the spiritual and get you to draw a sword in the Holy Ghost and say, “DEVIL, YOU ARE A LIAR!”

[crowd cheers]

Where sin abounds, where sin abounds, grace doth more abound.  You know why this mess is here?  Because of sin.  The Bible says, “The love of money is the root of -”  How much evil?  ALL evil.  So we got a sin problem.  We got a sin problem on Wall Street, we got a sin problem in the Senate, we got a sin problem in the Congress, we got a sin problem in the cabinet, we got a sin problem in leadership structures, we got a sin problem in CEO positions in major corporations.  But where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.  But who looses grace?  God looses it, but why does He loose it?  He looses it when people pray.

[crowd cheers]

[You say,] “I’m believin’ God, pastor, now you stirred my faith, my faith is – my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I’ve heard, and now my faith has been stirred – faith cometh by hearing.  Now my faith is the substance, it’s the foundation of my vision.  My faith is…and I’ve got it.”  And then you go out, and as soon as you flip on the TV, you get halted between two opinions.

I got my mutual fund report today – er, yesterday – and I didn’t open it. 

[Charismania says:  At least Pastor Smith HAS a mutual fund.  Many people in his congregation aren’t nearly so lucky.  We personally knew of several folks who had saved nothing for retirement because they were “believing God” for His miraculous intervention.]

[crowd cheers and claps]

Y’say, “You need to know where you’re at.”  You know what?  If it’s all gone, it’s all gone.  But you know, if Jehovah Jireh isn’t all gone, somehow, someway, we gonna make it.  I don’t know what else to say to you, but I’m not wavin’ a white flag.  Because I realize something, I can deal with this devil.  Naw, you didn’t hear me, I said, I can deal with this devil.  Naw, no, no, no, no, no, I can deal with this devil!  No – I gotta go past being Trinitarian, I think I gotta say this four times, Harry – I CAN DEAL WITH THIS DEVIL.  You can deal with this devil.  You say, “Who am I?”  You’re a son of God.  “Who am I?”  You’re a daughter of God.  “Who am I?”  You are the children of righteousness, you’re the light of the world, the salt of the earth, you’re kings, you’re priests.  You can deal with this devil.  Business owners, listen to me.  Don’t start your day without first opening the sound…

Get up in your morning as the sun rises and you look at the dawning of the day, don’t get up and say, “What bad news am I gonna hear today, how much worse are things gonna be today, how much more hell am I gonna have to deal with today?”  Get up, lift up your eyes unto the hills from whence cometh your help, your help cometh from the Lord which made the heavens and the earth.  Think I’m crazy?  Fine.  Think I’m crazy.  But I’m not waving the white flag at this devil.  GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU THAN HE THAT IS IN THIS WORLD!!!!!!!

[crowd cheers]

There are atheists depending on you to get a breakthrough.  They don’t know it.  Fear and sin are at the root of this whole thing.  You can get all intellectual with me, but even the most liberal and the most conservative say the problem is rooted in greed.  The love of money is the root cause of all – everybody say it – ALL – evil.  And the result of the sin is what sin always brings.  Fear.  Because when Eve sinned and Adam sinned, they hid cuz they were afraid.  I can deal with THAT devil.  You can deal with that devil.  Because Jesus shed His blood for you to deal with that.  [Charismania says:  Wow, so Jesus shed His blood so that I can believe that our economy will pick up again?  I thought Jesus shed His blood to reconcile me, a sinner beyond hope, with a holy righteous God so that I could be restored to fellowship with Him for all eternity?  I had no idea that Jesus died for the U.S. economy.  And yes, sorry – a little sarcasm is beginning to creep into my remarks.  But really, does anyone else join me in thinking that this whole thing is becoming downright blasphemous?]

Don’t lose hope.  Don’t panic.  Oh, yes, we’re aware.  Because when they hit the towers on nine eleven, you’d better have been sober and vigilant.  You need to be sober, and you need to be vigilant.  But you don’t need to be panic-ridden.  You NEED to be able to rise up and really take authority over that which would take authority over you.

You think preaching this right now is easy?  No, I’m gonna tell you something, God is not going to fail His people.  He’s not.  He’s not gonna fail you.  This mountain has to move, and I want you to understand, this mountain must move, because, if it does not move, then, it becomes, it becomes a barrier that stops the work of the kingdom.  Because if we don’t move this mountain in America, the mountain will shift geographically and stagnate the work of the kingdom all over the world.  And the enemy right now is having a party.  I got news for you, HE’S gonna be jumpin’ out of a skyscraper. 

[Charismania says:  So essentially here, Smith believes that if the economy does not turn around, then that would mean that God HAS “failed His people.”  God’s faithfulness to His people, according to Pastor Smith, simply has to mean that God will intervene in our finances and bring us financial prosperity.]

[crowd cheers]

[Pensive piano music begins playing softly in the background.  Pastor Smith begins to speak more slowly, seeming to give more weight to each phrase.]

Now people, you gotta get off of our in-between, lukewarm, halted-between-two-opinions.  I’m gonna finish with this.  I’m not gotten through this yet.  If you go I believe about the thirtieth verse.  The next thing that the prophet did is that he repaired the altar that was broken down.  And he told the people, “Come near.  Come near.  Come near.”  And the people pressed in and came near where he was rebuilding the altar.  And as he began to rebuild the altar, he was reestablishing divine order in the nation.  But he said, “Come near.”

You can’t right now pull away.  You have to come near.  You have to draw nigh.  You have to come near in prayer, you have to come near in praise.  You have to come near in service.  You have to come near in faithfulness.  This can’t be a time that you play it like you have.  You’ve got to come near.  We are in a mountain-moving moment.  And you know what?  We’ve got what it takes to move a mountain.  [crowd claps] 

Sin has abounded, it’s apexed to a point that every family in America is impacted by sin.  We’ve kinda looked at it.  But now, every family in America, probably in the 95 percentile is being impacted by panic and fear.  We can deal with that devil.  We can deal with the spirit of sin.  We can deal with the abounding of sin but the higher abounding of grace.

[Charismania says:  It’s interesting that despite mentioning more than once that “sin” is at the root of our economic problems, Pastor Smith never gets around to explaining which “sin” he’s talking about, except for a passing mention of the sin of greed.  The only “sin” he seems to define is the “sin” of having a fearful reaction to bad economic news.  If “sin” is at the root of financial problems, wouldn’t it be good to get more specific, so that people can know what they’re supposed to repent of and change? 

I’d definitely be interested in hearing Pastor Smith’s explanation of when greed is a sin, anyway, since he and his family frequently display a breathtaking eagerness for financial gifts from their congregation, stretching all boundaries of good taste by sending out letters of reminder when their birthdays approach, and specifically spelling out in those letters that monetary gifts are much appreciated.]

And I want you to understand today this is not a time to become a user-friendly, lukewarm, skim milk, preach-what-people-wanna-hear kind of church.  [Charismania says:  Pastor Smith was always fond of telling the congregation that Living Word Church was NOT “user-friendly” and did NOT preach what people wanted to hear.  I actually used to believe him when he’d say this.  Then, after we left and the fog lifted, I realized that Pastor Smith preached almost EXACTLY what people wanted to hear!  How is his message of economic prosperity – even in times of financial bad news – NOT what people want to hear?]  This is not a time to be ashamed of speaking in tongues.  This is not a time to be ashamed of preaching an undiluted black-and-white gospel, this is not a time to be too busy to pray.  This is not a time to be too busy to be in the Word.  This is not a time to be laying out of the house of God because everything else in your world is spinning.  This is not a time for that.  This a time to come near and put it into order.  This is a time to come near and to put it into order.

You say, “I can’t give, this is a bad time to give.  This is a bad time.”  But we’ve, you’ve gotta understand, that it’s in these moments that when we press in, when we walk down the aisle, when we stay faithful with our tithe, stay faithful with our giving, it’s in these times that God realizes that you’re not operating maybe out of your abundance, you’re operating out of the abundance of your faith.  You are operating out of the abundance that you believe God will make a way where there seems to be no way.  [Charismania says:  Yet again, the main thrust of this message comes down to giving money in Living Word’s offerings.  In times of crisis, Pastor Smith would say, we must remain faithful to give money to the church.  Or else we won’t get out of our crisis.] 

Listen, I’m not backin’ down to you, or to any devil, or to any body.  Because somebody’s got to cry aloud and spare not, somebody’s has got to pull the plug on this spirit, and this spirit will destroy our nation if the church does not rise up and be the salt of the earth.  I’m gonna say it to you one more time – it might irritate you when I say it – but THE DROUGHT IS BROKEN!!

Somebody give Him a praise!

[crowd claps and cheers]

Stand to your feet all over this house.  Get out of your pews wherever you’re at and get down here to the front and draw near to me right now.  [Charismania says:  OK, when I first heard this one little phrase – “…and draw near to ME right now” – I thought I’d misunderstood what Pastor Smith had said.  So I replayed it.  And no, I had NOT misunderstood.  He had indeed told the people to “draw near” to HIMSELF.  I don’t know about you, but this, in my thinking, is CREEPY and CULTIC.  In the Bible, we NEVER see any of the prophets or apostles encouraging people to “draw near” to themselves.  Rather, they tell people to “draw near” to GOD.

Even in the midst of our greatest love for Pastor Smith and Living Word, I always felt like Pastor Smith sometimes got dangerously close to having something of a “God complex.”  I think he has a difficult time differentiating between where he and his personal interests end and where his “ministry” begins.  I think a long time ago already, the lines began to blur, to where he sees his ministry as being part of “the Gospel” and himself as being one and the same with his ministry…so therefore, he himself (in his thinking) sort of BECOMES “the gospel.”  It’s a scary thing.  It’s not always obvious, but occasionally it slips out, as it did in this little phrase of, “Draw near to me right now.”  CREEPY.] 

Come on.  I’m glad you’re here this morning.  Most of you do not get here on time, but you do eventually get here.  Come on, press on in.  You don’t need all of your cubic inches that you think you need – PRESS IN!  Bother the person in front of you.  Cuz we gotta fight this fight together.  We gotta fight this fight together, Marc.  Man, we talk – Marc’s a vice president of [Bank Name].  We talk.  I’m tellin’ ya something.  I can’t turn off what I heard God say.  And God’s gonna have people like you, in banks like [Bank Name], people like many of you in different corporations, they won’t even understand what you’re doing when you’re walking down the aisles, and they say, “Hey, wanna go to lunch?” and you say, “No, not today,” and all of a sudden you’re just walkin’ the hallways.  “What are you doing?”  “Oh, I’m just getting’ a little cardio in,” but what you’re really doing is you’re walking the hallways of your company and you’re praying in the Spirit, you’re believing God, you’re fasting, you’re saying, “God, I’m not waving the white flag at this devil.  I’m not waving the white flag.  Somehow, someway, for the kingdom’s sake -”

Quit lookin’ at it all for OUR sake.  There’s something bigger than our house, our car, and our retirement.  There’s the work of the gospel.  There’s an eternal perspective here.  My God!  Be sober about this.  I’m not preaching some cute little series to make you jump up and down and wave your hands in the air and give you a hot flash and a cold chill.  We are in a battle.  And we better draw the sword.  And we better know what God’s saying to us.  And when they come back down the mountain and say, “I see nothing,” send ’em back up again, because finally somebody’s gonna come and say, “I see a little cloud, I see a little cloud,” and when they do, you better gird up your loins and get ready to run, cuz it’s gonna be time to move in faith. 

Now lift your hands up toward God.  [Lapses into speaking in tongues] Sheda bota kotanduh da ko sigh.  Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I rebuke the spirit of fear and panic, anxiety that is upon men and women, uncertainty and unsettled spirit, that is resting upon the youngest to the eldest.  I rebuke it in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  I declare peace that surpasses understanding will come upon men and women.  What has become evil, you will turn the evil to good.  What seems to be a stranglehold will be broken, and when it breaks, it will become an opportunity to overflow in blessing.  And God, I declare, your Word said you’ll bring a pool out of parched ground, you will make a way in the wilderness, you will make a stream flow in the desert.  I cannot do this, God.  [Charismania says:  Then why command the people to “draw near” to you?]  Nobody in this room can do this.  The smartest business people in my church can’t turn and correct this problem.  But God, you can do what no other power can do, and we humble ourselves before you today, and we pray and you said, if we would, you would heal our land.  God, heal our nation, heal it, God, for the kingdom, heal it for the lost souls that need to be saved, heal it for the preaching of the gospel, heal it for miracles in the name of Jesus. 

Somebody lift your hands up and start praising God.  I break the spirit of fear.  I rebuke the panic spirit that’s upon our nation and upon our people.  [Charismania says:  OK, so Pastor Smith just finished declaring that he himself “could not do it” – he could not fix the nation’s economic problems.  But in this sermon, convoluted though it often was, he CLEARLY STATES, several times, that our economic problems are all tied up in the “spirit of fear.”  According to Pastor Smith, the “spirit of fear” is what is causing an economic downturn. 

Now…if Pastor Smith is able to “break the spirit of fear” and “rebuke the panic spirit,” then isn’t he contradicting himself?  Either he is able to break the spirit of fear – and thereby fix the economy, according to his own analysis – or else these are just empty words designed to “rally the troops” and make people feel better and give money in the offering.  Which is it?]  God, I declare churches that are full of the Holy Ghost all over this nation, we’ll raise up armies of intercessors, raise up armies of people, in the name of Jesus!  Somebody praise Him, somebody praise Him, somebody praise Him, somebody praise Him today.

I heard…I heard His voice.  I heard His voice.  Believe me, it’d be a lot easier on this one, to just preach to you and say, “Now hold on, somehow, someway we gonna make it.  I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”  [Charismania says:  The insinuation here is that somehow, Pastor Smith actually DOES know what’s going to happen?]  But you know, for me to do that, I’d have to tell God to never speak to me again.  [Charismania says:  How does a statement like this one measure up theologically?  Is God really so small that someone like Pastor Smith could successfully “tell God to never speak to me again”?  If Pastor Smith’s “God” really is that small, no wonder he must put his faith in the U.S. economy’s turnaround!]  And I won’t do it.  I wanna hear Him, but right now, just like you, it’s taking all the faith – I gotta say, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.”  I gotta grab it by faith.  And I don’t know about you, but it’s not a time to pray less, it’s a time to pray more.  It’s not a time to not fast, it’s a time TO fast.  It’s not a time NOT to give, it’s a time TO give.  It’s not a time to get loose and lax in our study of the Word, it’s a time to plow into the Word that faith will be ignited in us.  It is a time to let the workings of the Holy Ghost do what only God can do.  It said, “Blessed are they that mourn, they shall be comforted.”  And that does not mean he’ll just wipe the tears out of your eyes, he’ll EMPOWER you in traumatic circumstances.  How many need a little bit of that in your life?  Somebody give God one more praise this morning.  Come on and bless Him, come on and bless Him.

[crowd cheers]

I want you to turn to two or three people, look at ’em, and say, “Somehow, someway, God’s gonna make a way.”

Aw, now, look at two or three more, and say, “Somehow, some way, God’s gonna make a way.  Somehow, some way, God’s gonna make a way.  Somehow, some way, God is going to make a way.”

 

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Anointed Sweat?

The other day, my husband and I were musing aloud about our time at Living Word Church (for the record, a pseudonym, as are all other names used here – except for those of widely known celebrity TV preachers).  As we reminisced, I had a fleeting thought of a story I’d shared once before, in the “comments” section of another post.  When someone new replied to that post recently, I happened to be reminded once more of that same little incident, as I read through the comments again.  It now strikes me as so bizarre that I thought I’d resurrect my re-telling from obscurity and turn it into a post.  Here it is:

Anointed Sweat?

When we were in the midst of our love and loyalty for our church (which was actually our love and loyalty for our PASTOR and his family, because they made themselves synonymous with the church), we actually DEFENDED these same birthday offerings if anyone would ask us about them.

I mean, I always thought that taking up a collection for yourself – openly asking people to give you money – was a little odd. But because of how much we loved the Smiths, I always thought of their money-grubbing with a sort of indulgent smile, like, “Aww, there they go again!” In a weird way, I believed it was their RIGHT to do this.

I bought into their reasoning because I’d internalized all the stuff we heard from them, over and over again. They had “sacrificed for the anointing,” so they deserved to be blessed. They were our “covering,” and “anointing/blessings flow from the head down,” so if we blessed them, we were in effect blessing ourselves. If we blessed them (financially – it was ALWAYS with material stuff!) we would receive similar blessings. The Bible told us to “give honor where honor is due,” after all.

The Smiths worked very very hard to cultivate the perception of themselves as special, and since we were spending at least 7 hours a week in that environment (our Sundays were completely consumed by church, with the morning service having us at church from 9:30 to about 1:30, and the evening service clocking in from about 6:00 to 9:00), we were very much inundated with the message that the Smith family was a cut above.

It really was like Living Word Church was an alternate universe. The Smith family had their photos plastered throughout the church facility, gorgeously lit (and very retouched!) portraits of themselves that had been taken by the most expensive photographer in town. On the rare occasions that they did mingle with the people in the lobby or stroll throughout the building, they would be accompanied by security people, big guys who volunteered for the privilege of being their bodyguards, fully decked out with Secret Service-like ear pieces and radios. Pastor Smith and his wife were never with the congregation for the entire worship time, instead making a grand, sweeping entrance into the sanctuary about 20 or 30 minutes after we’d started singing.

They always sat on these plush, throne-like chairs on the stage, perched a good 4 feet above the audience. Even that gave them a psychological edge over their people. They wore the best clothing, drove the finest vehicles, lived in a home that was better than the houses of about 99% of their congregation, and went on at least two or three luxury vacations each year to places that most of the rest of us could only dream of visiting. When it was raining, you could watch the bodyguards scurry out with umbrellas to meet the Smiths at their cars, open their doors, and usher them into the building so that they would not get wet.

The celebrity treatment extended to the two Smith sons, young adults who were lauded and applauded for what would have been seen as merely mediocre talents anywhere else.

Like I said, it was like once you walked through the doors of Living Word, you were in another world, a world where regular rules did not apply.

And once you bought into one part of Living Word – like once you believed that Pastor Smith was an amazingly accurate prophet and/or an amazingly “anointed” preacher – you simply bought into all the rest of the celebrity treatment that went along with it.

So even though I was always uncomfortable with the birthday offerings and knew on some deep level that such obvious greed for money was inappropriate, ESPECIALLY for a supposed “man of God,” my thinking was so clouded by my belief in Pastor Smith’s anointing that it was like “anointing” somehow trumped all normal standards for good behavior. Like I said, when we were in the midst of our love for the Smiths, we would have defended the birthday offerings as somehow being their right.

It really is like brainwashing. After all the reading I’ve been doing lately about Kundalini manifestations and crowd hypnosis, I’m even beginning to believe that Pastor Smith works some sort of mind control over people, through the use of repetitive music, and through the use of all the psychologically manipulative things the Smith family does to isolate themselves and set themselves apart as special. I also now believe that Pastor Smith just has one of those dynamic and charismatic (lower-case “c” ) personalities that can exert force over others and control them.

One other example, and then I’ll wrap up these musings.

Living Word Church did a “Handkerchief and Anointing Oil” service once a year, during which time every member of the audience would receive a small vial of anointing oil and a hanky that had been prayed over by various visiting ministers. On the night of the hanky service, Pastor Smith and his wife would also pray over the hankies, and then we’d all file up and they would momentarily “lay hands on” each hanky individually. This process was done in a very efficient, orderly way, and we were instructed to keep the line moving. All the handlers and bodyguards and ushers would be enlisted to help in this service.

My husband and Pastor Smith had an interesting friendship, one that was often watched with envy by others who had been at the church longer. Pastor Smith had an obvious soft spot for my husband, which he demonstrated in various ways. One year, during the hanky service, we were among the later ones to walk up with our hankies to receive the 1-second moment of the “laying on of hands” from Pastor Smith.

Pastor Smith had already worked up quite a sweat when we reached the front of the line, and in a gesture that was watched jealously by everybody, Pastor Smith took my husband’s hanky and wiped away the sweat off of his (Smith’s) face, before rather dramatically handing it back to him.

The message was clear – Pastor Smith was so anointed that having his sweat on your prayer hanky gave you a special edge.

In retrospect, it sounds nuts! My husband even jokes now that if anyone else had ever done that to him, he would have punched him.

But at the time, we felt extremely privileged. And just about everyone else in the sanctuary was jealous! They would have done a lot to be able to have the hanky with Pastor Smith’s sweat on it.

Brainwashing. Mind control. It was crazy!

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