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JOYCE MEYER, EVANGELICAL: I am radically, insanely, nutty in love with Jesus! He has set me free!
LARRY KING, HOST “LARRY KING LIVE”: Tonight, Joyce Meyer. She overcame being sexually abused as a child and depression and drug use after a disastrous first marriage, to become one of America’s most influential evangelicals, but preaching the word of Jesus and the gospel of prosperity has brought her millions of dollars and some controversy.
Joyce Meyer for the hour, next LARRY KING LIVE.
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KING: Good evening. Great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE tonight Joyce Meyer. She’s included in “Time” magazine’s recent cover story, the list of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. “Time” described her as the feminine side of evangelism.
She hosts radio and TV programs, enjoying every day life. She’s a best-selling author of more than 50 books, the most recent of which, a runaway best-seller, “Battlefield of the Mind,” and a forthcoming book “Approval Addiction.” How did — were you shocked at being included in that “Time” list?
MEYER: Yes, I was.
KING: Did they tell you? Did you knew it was coming?
MEYER: I was actually in South Africa when my son called and told me. I was over there, doing a big conference, and it really did surprise me, because there’s so many people in ministry all over the world, and to think about being one of 25, that’s a pretty good thing.
KING: And so few women.
MEYER: I just think overall there’s not as many female ministers than there are male ministers.
KING: In all faiths? MEYER: In all faiths. And, you know, although it’s getting better and better all the time, I think that still, women are a little less accepted, broadly, than men are.
KING: What — how — what, by definition, is evangelical? Let me — you don’t have a church?
MEYER: No. Actually, I looked up the definition this morning, because I thought you might ask me.
KING: I didn’t know I would ask you, so, you’re psychic too?
MEYER: The Bible — I mean, the Bible — the dictionary just basically says it’s people who believe in the New Testament, especially the gospels, that they must believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, and that their salvation is not by works, it doesn’t come from obeying rules and regulations, but through faith in Jesus Christ and by grace.
KING: But, doesn’t it — or haven’t — hasn’t it also come to mean that they proselytize. They go around and tell others to believe the way I believe, or ask them to believe the way I believe?
MEYER: You know what, I’m really not sure what everybody else thinks it means. You know, I — everybody’s always wanting to know what you are and what you are and what you are. I’m just somebody that…
KING: What are you?
MEYER: I had a rough life, trying to help people. I believe the Bible. I’m a Christian, and we belong to the non-denominational group, but even that group gets a name. And, so, I think they include that in the evangelicals, because of the basic way that we believe.
KING: Do you have a specific place you preach every Sunday?
MEYER: We have a church in the inner city. No, I don’t preach every Sunday, because I travel so much. But we do have an inner city work in St. Louis. I just preached there this last Sunday. It’s called the St. Louis Dream Center. We’re really trying to reach out to the poor there, but because I travel pretty extensively, I don’t get to preach somewhere every Sunday.
KING: Well, we’ll get into your life, which was extraordinary. Do you know what they meant by the feminine side of evangelism?
MEYER: I guess just that it was, you know, here’s the women that are doing it. You know, here’s the…
KING: Is your appeal mostly to women?
MEYER: I think there’s more women that watch me than men, but I don’t look at myself as just a minister to women. My ministry began that way, but I really feel like the word of god is for everybody. The promises of god are for whosoever will, so I hope everybody listens.
KING: How did Joyce Meyer get to be Joyce Meyer? What happened? You had a tough growing up, right?
MEYER: Yes. I grew up in a situation…
KING: Tell me.
MEYER: …where I was abused myself.
MEYER: Sexually abused, verbally abused, mentally, emotionally.
KING: When was it?
MEYER: You know, Larry, when I look back, it was as long as I could ever remember. If I try to put an age on it, I think…
KING: What, you were as young as six, seven?
MEYER: Yes, yes. And, in different ways, it got worse as the years progressed. My father drank a lot. He just — something must have happened in his life or happened to him and he was just really just down right mean. I mean, just very unpleasant and mean.
KING: Where was your mother?
MEYER: My mom was there, but my mother just didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know how to handle the situation. Her and my dad got married when she was 17. She came from a farm and a different part of Missouri. She didn’t really know how to take care of herself.
She told me, years and years later, when we finally did talk about it openly, she said, you know, I’m sorry about what I let your dad do to you. She said, I just — to be honest, Joyce, she said, I just didn’t know what to do. She said, nobody talked about abuse. It would have been a scandal. I didn’t know how to face it.
It wasn’t a subject that you could bring out in the open like today. People frequently say, well, I’m abused or you’re abused, or you were abused. But you never heard that word then. It was just a secret that you kept, and you told no one, and, you know, even the people that you did try to tell didn’t want to get involved. The few times that I did, you know, try to say something to somebody…
KING: Like the school?
MEYER: …it was like they didn’t want to get involved. I never said anything at school. You know, abuse is an interesting thing. You just feel like you have to hide it from everybody.
KING: What about the doctor?
MEYER: Never said anything to a doctor.
KING: If you had bruises, what would you say?
MEYER: It wasn’t that kind of physical abuse. It was…
MEYER: Yes, sexual. He didn’t beat me or anything like that.
KING: Did your father eventually pass on? Did they get divorced?
MEYER: No. My mom and dad stayed married, and that’s a really, whole interesting story in itself. I don’t know, you know, how much you want to talk about it or how much time you want to take.
KING: It formulated you.
MEYER: My dad never really apologized or never admitted he did anything until three-and-a-half years ago. My parents are both alive, and actually, now…
KING: So, your father is watching now?
MEYER: Well, he’s probably not watching, but he knows I talk about his story all over. He actually did receive Christ as his savior three-and-a-half years ago. I had the privilege of praying with him and baptizing him. But, he could never — we would try today talk to him over the years. One time when he was sick and he was afraid he was going to die, he asked us to pray with him, and after we did, he said, you know, I just feel dead inside. It’s like I can’t feel anything, and — but the problem was, he was never really saying he was sorry for what he did. He was never repenting or really bringing it out in the open. He wanted that relationship with God to make sure he wasn’t going to go to hell, but he didn’t want to really repent of what he had done.
And, so, God put it in our heart to take care of my mom and dad, to bring them to St. Louis and take care of them. They were getting older. Their health wasn’t real good, and so it was kind of a hard for me to do, but after God dealing with me for a while, and David and I talking about it and really coming to the point where I knew it was God, we asked them if they would move back to St. Louis, because they were getting older.
And they lived about 250 miles from St. Louis, but, for me, in a way, it was kind of convenient at that point. I had them tucked away in a little corner of southeast Missouri and I saw them on holidays and sent a little money once in a while, was kind of doing my duty, so to speak. But they weren’t being taken care of the way they needed to be, and obviously, you know, because of the way I’d been hurt — although I’d worked through the forgiveness thing and didn’t have any hatred, I did come to realize, through that, that I did have some resentment. You know, I didn’t want to have to take care of them, because they never took care of me. I didn’t want to have to, you know, do that.
But God really dealt with me, showed me a lot of things in the scripture about it and we brought them to St. Louis, bought them a house and bought them a car and put them in it, and just showing them that unconditional love over a period of time really softened his heart. And, actually, they’re both in assisted-living care now, and they live about four minutes from our house. I’ve seen my dad probably four times in the last week.
KING: Are you married now? Got a family?
MEYER: Yes, I’m married. Married and have four children.
KING: Before we find out what brought you to the gospel and to this faith, your father, you believe, then, is forgiven? His deeds don’t matter? The things he did won’t matter.
MEYER: I believe he’s totally and completely forgiven.
KING: And someone who does a lot of good but does not believe — he’s not forgiven?
MEYER: Well, because — yes, I don’t feel like…
KING: Isn’t that a little strange? There used to be a motto of a junior high school, “we live in deeds, not years.”
MEYER: Well, I don’t — it’s not strange according to the Bible. Let’s put it like this. A lot of things that Christians believe probably are strange to somebody trying to figure it out with their mind. But Christianity is about the heart, and the Bible says that we cannot get to heaven on our own good works. No matter how good we are, we cannot be good enough, because God is perfect, and we’re always going to be less than perfect.
KING: Why do you believe that?
MEYER: Why do I believe that?
KING: Yes. In other words, why wouldn’t you say rationally, wait a minute. There’s that guy. He never hurt anybody. He observed the golden rule. He’s decent. He’s kind. He’s giving. He’s charitable. He cares. He’s incredible. He’s never hurt anyone. He just doesn’t believe.
MEYER: Well, first of all…
KING: He would go to hell?
KING: He, who’s a braggart and a drunk and a rat and a scoundrel, at his death bed, says, I find Christ. He goes to heaven?
MEYER: Well, I admit it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense up here but it’s — it’s what the Bible teaches, that we can’t get to heaven on our own good works.
Because, first of all, nobody without God in their life can be as good as you were describing that guy to be.
KING: Can’t be as good?
MEYER: No, and even when you — a relationship with Christ changes your heart. It’s not about your head. It changes your heart. Jesus comes to live in your heart, and even if a person does good works, but they do them without Christ, most of the time, their motives are wrong for why they do them. They may do them to be noticed, or to be admired, or to thought to be good, or you know, for a lot of different reasons, and the only way that I think you can do good works for the right reason is to do them because you love God and you love him because he loved you first.
KING: For the record, Joyce’s father did provide us a statement through his attorney addressing the abuse allegations. And that statement reads as follows, “I have committed acts in my past that I deeply regret and I’m not proud of. I currently have a wonderful and proper relationship with my daughter, Joyce, of which I am very proud.”
We’ll be right back.
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MEYER: I’m just telling you, God permits things in our lives sometimes for reasons that we do not understand yet because of the spiritual level that we’re on. We can’t have any understanding of it, because we’re not at a place of spiritual growth yet where we understand the deeper things of God.
But when you get through things and you get on the other side of them and you look back with hindsight, you realize that the person you are today is a result of all of these things that God didn’t make disappear, that he made you go through.
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MEYER: I had lots of hurt and lots of pain, lots of woundedness, bruises, broken heartedness in my life. I was abused sexually by my father, abused mentally, emotionally. My mom didn’t know what to do about it, and she was being hurt in the process. So she just didn’t deal with it. And I can guarantee you, just because you don’t deal with something, that doesn’t make it go away.
KING: We’re back with Joyce Meyer. Her radio/TV programs, “Enjoying Everyday Life.” But how did you get away from that home environment?
MEYER: Well, the couple of people I did reach out to, to try to get help and who really turned me down, I told my mother once when I was about 9 years old. And I remember her examining me with a friend, and then going in and accusing my dad, and he just lied about it and said I was lying. And so, I guess, what woman wouldn’t want to believe her husband? She didn’t want her marriage to end. And so, when I realized that, you know, she didn’t really know how to help me, wasn’t going to help me, the more I realized nobody was going to help me, somewhere along the line, I just decided, I’m going to survive this. I’m going to learn enough that I can support myself, and when I’m 18 years old, I’m moving out of this house, which is exactly what I did.
However, I thought when I walked away from the problem that I no longer had the problem, but I didn’t realize…
KING: But you certainly didn’t have an abusing parent.
MEYER: No, but I still had the problem in me. I still had the effects and the results of the abuse in me. And so that was the part of me that had to be healed and the part of me that had to be dealt with, because I had fear. I was manipulative. I was controlling. I was obnoxious. I was frightened. I had all these different things inside.
And, you know, that’s why it’s so important to have a relationship with God, because he’s the only one that can get down inside of you and heal what needs to be healed inside. You know, I could do — I looked OK on the outside. I mean, I had a good job. I was always in management and leadership, and drove a car and had a husband. And starting having kids. And, you know, we went to a church. On the outside, we looked like your all-together, average, suburban couple. But behind closed doors, we were fighting all the time and arguing, and weren’t getting along. And I wasn’t happy if I wasn’t getting my way, and nobody could tell me anything, because my attitude was, I got pushed around all my life and nobody was going to tell me what to do again. And so I had a lot of changes that I needed in my life.
KING: And ended that marriage?
MEYER: Well, no. No. My husband and I have been married 37 years. I married a young man when I was 18 years old, and that marriage lasted five years. And that was just kind of a just a…
KING: No children in that marriage?
MEYER: One child, right toward the end of the marriage. I got pregnant once, had a miscarriage, and then had a child right toward the end of the marriage. Actually, he left me and lived with another woman while I was pregnant with that child.
KING: And that child is now?
MEYER: That child is now almost 40. He’ll have his 40th birthday this year. And, interestingly enough, I named him David, which was not my first husband’s name. It was my brother’s name. I named him after my brother. And the man that I’m married today and have been married to for 37 years is named David.
KING: Has that marriage had its ups and downs? MEYER: We had struggles in the first few years, but my husband was a very committed Christian when we got married. He’d had a lot of…
KING: You were not?
MEYER: Well, yes, I was a Christian, but I wasn’t a committed Christian.
KING: Born again?
MEYER: In other words, you know, I was — I had received Christ as my savior when I was a child, but I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have any knowledge. I didn’t go to church. And I had a lot of problems, and I needed somebody to kind of help me along. And I think sometimes even people who want to serve God, if they have got so many problems that they don’t think right and they don’t act right and they don’t behave right, they almost need somebody to take them by the hand and help lead them through the early years. And that’s really what discipleship is. It’s helping people.
KING: Were you depressed?
MEYER: Well, I was…
KING: As we have come to understand?
MEYER: I never had as much a problem with depression as I did with stress. I was just a ball of stress. I mean, I was stressed out to the max, because I didn’t like who I was, down deep inside. Any time that a person is abused in their childhood, they end up with a shame-based nature. You become ashamed of who you are, because you begin to think it’s your fault. And, you know, I think you go through a period where you’re ashamed of what’s happening to you, but then you come to a point where you think it’s because of you that it’s happening.
I had this little recording playing in my head for years and years and years, what’s wrong with me, what’s wrong with me, what’s wrong with me?
KING: You blamed yourself?
MEYER: I blamed myself. You know, I must be doing something. What am I doing? This is not happening to everybody. Why am I being treated this way? Why is nobody helping me? Why does my father do this to me? And so because I did not like who I was, I couldn’t really get along well with other people.
And so, I had to come to a lot of — a lot of, you know, understanding about being loved unconditionally by God, and the Bible actually even says that he removes the shame of our youth and that he will give us a double blessing for our former trouble.
KING: So how did you find God? You marry a Christian man?
KING: You go to church, but you do it perfunctorily?
KING: You go through motions.
KING: What changed?
MEYER: Well, we did that for a lot of years. And I really did — I mean, I loved God and I read the Bible a little bit every day. But I did it more out of obligation than out of really trying to learn something. And we were involved in church work. I always say I went out and did witnessing. I knocked on doors every Wednesday night to tell other people about Jesus, but I didn’t have enough power in my life to act like him at home. And so in February of 1976, I was on my way to, my husband and I had another argument that morning. And I just…
KING: What were you doing, what kind of work?
MEYER: I was, at that point, I was in management in a seafood wholesale company. I had been a bookkeeper and I had gotten into management.
KING: In Missouri?
MEYER: In Missouri, yes.
KING: So he’s driving you to work?
MEYER: No. I’m on my way to work by myself, I’m driving myself to work. And I was just so frustrated, because I was trying to do what I felt like the church was telling me to do. I was going to church. I was doing church work. You know, I was trying, trying, trying, trying. And it just wasn’t working for me. And I just basically, in my car, cried out to God and said, something is wrong, something is missing. When I read the Bible, I see that we should have victory in our life and be overcomers, and I can’t even control my temper. I’m impatient. I’m hard to get along with. I’m selfish and self-centered, and I don’t seem to have any control over it.
And that day in my car, God touched me.
And, actually, one of your producers called this morning to do a pre-interview with me. And she asked me if I had a light bulb moment. And so that was, I guess, what some people would refer to as my light bulb moment where I became so very acutely aware of not only the presence of God, but the goodness of God. And I actually felt like somebody took my head off and filled me with liquid love and put my head back on and turned me loose.
KING: And life was better?
MEYER: Life was better.
KING: We’ll pick right up on that when we come back with Joyce Meyer. Don’t go away.
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MEYER: And we would get in some kind of a fight Sunday morning, maybe because he had played golf on Saturday, maybe because he was going to watch football on Sunday, maybe because we were late and I was blaming him or he was blaming me. Whatever the case was, we would usually end up on some kind of strife Sunday morning.
So, we would fight all the way to church, ranting and raving, screaming and yelling. Then kids would start crying in the backseat. David would get mad and say, shut up back there. Shut up. They say today he would hit the wrong one and they would start crying.
So, by the time we would get to church, we were so stinking mad, but the first greeter at the door we saw, I mean, we had a total transformation. Well, praise the Lord. Glory to God. Thank you, Jesus. We’re just fine. Praise God.
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MEYER: I’m jealous. I’m mad. I feel bad. But one day, I woke up and I thought, you know what? This is wearing me out. And I’m not getting anywhere. So, I decided that even though I did not have a good beginning, I made a decision that I was going to let go of what lies behind and I was going to have a great finish.
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KING: We’re back with Joyce Meyer. She’s named, included in “Time” magazine’s recent cover story, one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. “Time” describing her as the feminine side of evangelism.
When everything changed, whatever, light bulb whatever, what happened, how did you know it wasn’t a crutch? How do you know it wasn’t psychosomatic? I mean, if it helps you, supposing instead of Christ it was Phil, it was a feeling inside yourself? How do you know what it was?
MEYER: Well you know, people always want to know how you know. And knowing in your heart, Larry, is very hard to describe. I think so often, we’re trying to understand something with our mind. But, actually, the Bible teaches us that much of what God does in our life will be difficult to understand with the mind.
I knew, because something happened in me. I was not a different person because I was making something up or — you know, first of all I wasn’t crying out to Phil or to Harry or Tom, I was crying out to God. I did love God. And I think there’s so many frustrated people who have tried to have a relationship with God, but sometimes, you know, they go to church and they don’t find what they need.
And there’s a lot of wonderful churches and a lot of great churches, but there’s also a lot of them that are just houses of rules and regulations that tell people what all they have to be to be accepted in that group. And I always, you ask a person, are you a Christian? And they say, well I go to church.
Well, you know, I can go sit in the garage all day and that don’t make me a car. Just because someone sits in church week after week doesn’t make them a Christian. A Christian is someone who has Jesus in their heart. And I actually received Christ as my savior when I was a 9-year-old child, but as I said, I never had any education.
So when the holy spirit touched my life in 1976 how do I know? Well, for one thing, I became extremely hungry spiritually to learn the word of God. And you know, you can do something for a little while if it’s hype, but you can’t do it long term unless there’s some inner motivation to do that. And I literally have been studying the word of God from that day until this.
KING: You still are?
KING: Some people might have said, why not study Muslims, a religion with more members than yours? Why not study Judaism, a religion older than yours? Why Christianity? There are a lot of roads to God.
MEYER: Yes. I’m sure that — first of all, I didn’t even think of anything else, because this is all I had ever heard about or known. And I know that question is always there. Well, what about this? What about that? What about something else?
KING: They believe as fervently as you do.
MEYER: All I know is this works. It’s not only worked for me, but I’ve seen it work for literally thousands and thousands of people. I have seen the transformation on people’s faces when they receive Christ. I’ve seen the glory come on them, the light. I’ve seen what’s happened to my own father.
KING: If it works, don’t knock it?
KING: What led you, though, to be a minister of it? It’s one thing to be a believer.
MEYER: Actually It’s kind of an interesting story. I’ll just give you the plain, simple truth.
KING: Tell me. MEYER: I was a boss where I worked. And you know, when you’re so excited about something, you can’t keep quiet about it. And so I was starting to talk to different people. I felt like God wanted me to start a Bible study, which I didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t know how to teach, I didn’t know what to do.
But I asked the different people that worked for me if I had a Bible study on Wednesday mornings in St. Louis if they would come. We had to have it at 6:00 am before work. And they all said, yes, they would come.
I wasn’t smart enough to realize at the time, because I was their boss, they felt obligated to come. But they all came.
And we had the bible study in a restaurant that’s no longer in St. Louis. It was called Hollings Restaurant at the time. 6:00 am on a Wednesday morning. And I always say my ministry started with every one of those ladies getting a $10 parking ticket for parking in a no- parking zone.
And I went to my pastor. At that time I was part of the Lutheran Church. And I asked him, if somebody was going to teach a Bible study, what would they use? And how would they start? He told about a Thompson Chain Reference Bible (ph) and told me the book of John would be a good place to start. And that’s where I started.
And to be honest, Larry, just like you’re gifted to do this, God has gifted me in communication. He has given me a gift to be very open about myself, which seems to really help a lot of people. It’s not even anything I do on purpose. It’s just something I don’t have a problem with. I don’t care what you know about me if it will help you.
KING: Is that when you came out, sort of, openly discussing it? Or were you doing that before to discuss what happened to you?
MEYER: Oh, yes. When I first starting teaching the Bible, that’s when I first really started talking about it.
KING: We’ll be back with Joyce Meyer on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don’t go away.
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MEYER: I had felt wrong for so long that I thought that was the right way to feel. So when I started learning about righteousness and learning that I didn’t have to feel guilty and condemned all my life, that I didn’t have to be mad at myself because I wasn’t a perfect specimen or because I didn’t suit everybody around me and because I had a past and I’d made some mistakes, that I still didn’t have to feel bad about myself.
When I started actually trying to take a step to feel good about myself and not to feel guilty, I felt wrong. It’s like, this can’t be right. I only felt right if I felt wrong.
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MEYER: I can’t do anything about my past, but I can do a lot to cooperate with my destiny. I am re-created in Christ Jesus, born anew, that I might do the good works that he laid out for me and live the good life.
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KING: We’re back with Joyce Meyer, her — written many books — her most recent is “Battlefield of the Mind.” She’s got one coming called “Approval Addiction.”
Early, I’m to understand, early in your ministry, you were involved in casting out demons. Did you actually feel you could do that?
MEYER: Yes, Jesus did it.
KING: Do you do it with others?
MEYER: If I need to.
KING: Do you still do it?
MEYER: If I need to.
KING: How did the ministry — how did life in the word begin?
MEYER: Well, my ministry actually started at a church I worked at for five years. I taught these home Bible studies we were talking about, for five years.
KING: (INAUDIBLE) of your business world?
MEYER: Yes, I quit my job, and actually…
KING: What did your husband think of all this?
MEYER: Well, at first, he wasn’t really all for it. He thought it was a little odd that God called me and not him. After all, he’s the man, and why shouldn’t he do that? But I have a wonderful, Godly husband. And God just dealt with him, that he had given me a gift, and he needed not submit to me, but to my gift and to help me, and Dave is just as much involved in the ministry as I am, except he’s not up front.
KING: So, you started life in the word out at another…
MEYER: Out of this church. I went to a church called Life Christian Center, and I started actually, what was a women’s meeting there at the time, and it just became very popular in our city. We got to the point where we had like… KING: St. Louis?
MEYER: Yes. We got to the point we had like 400 ladies coming every Thursday morning, and then after being there about five years, I really felt like God was dealing with me to take the ministry and go north, south east and west. I really had a vision and a desire to just help people worldwide and to…
KING: Started writing books?
MEYER: …go different places. And, after that, I started writing books. We started our own ministry, which we have now been in 19 years, and we called it Life in the Word for a good number of years, but we recently, about a year-and-a-half ago, changed it to Enjoying Every Day Life, because I think so many people have been given the gift of life and don’t really know how to enjoy their life.
KING: Do you ever relive the pain of your youth?
KING: I don’t really think about it anymore. It’s not — when I talk about what happened to me as a child now, Larry, to be honest, it’s almost like talking about somebody I used to know at some time in my life. That person is so, like, so gone from me.
Now, I will say that there are times, I believe, when in my behavior or in relationships or in the way I react to something, that I’m still dealing with some leftover stuff from my childhood, but the good thing is now, because I have learned so much from the Bible, I can tell when I’m behaving wrong and when I’m not, and it doesn’t take me very long to realize that’s out of fear, or, you know, that’s because I was controlled as a child, and I can make a conscious decision to behave the way I know I should behave.
KING: You’ve been characterized as a prosperity gospel teacher.
KING: You teach it’s good to have money or wealth. Is that part of it?
MEYER: First of all, I don’t know — I hate all these characterizations, you know, where we get put in these little boxes. You’re a faith teacher. You’re a prosperity teacher.
KING: Someone must have characterized you.
MEYER: Yes, because I teach and believe that God wants his people to be blessed. You know, that if we give and we are a blessing to other people, that God promises in his word that he will take care of us. Actually, says he’ll open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so great that we can’t contain it.
And so, I have seen that in my own life. God has blessed me in many, many, many ways. Money is not the greatest blessing you can have, but I literally had absolutely nothing. The first message that I preached at Life in the Word, I had to borrow a suit from my pastor’s wife, because I didn’t have any decent clothes, and I was driving a 20-year-old car.
We went through a lot of rough years, a lot of years of having nothing, sleeping in McDonald’s parking lots, because we didn’t have money to stay all night in a hotel when we’d go out to minister. But, like anybody else who works hard and is diligent and doesn’t quit and doesn’t give up, there is a day the blessings come.
KING: Was there an event? Was there a book that took off? Was there one…
MEYER: No, I don’t think it was one thing. We just — my husband has a little phrase, it’s called slow and solid, fast and fragile, and our ministry really has grown slow and solid. I did thousands of meetings of less than 100 people and was diligent and faithful. I taught those home Bible studies with 25 people for five years and got nothing. You know, I mean, no money, no anything, for that. I just did that and I had to quit my job to do it, and so we were financially strapped.
I would go out and believe God to find my kids’ shoes at garage sales, and then when I went to work for at church, of course, I drew a salary, but it was small. Then, even when we went into our own ministry, you know, it was still just — everything was little. You know, our first office space was — we started in the basement of our home and then we outgrew that. We got 1,700 square feet and we thought, my goodness, how will we ever fill this up?
KING: You’re self-made?
MEYER: Yes, really. I mean, just, really…
KING: Now, there’s a group called Wall Watchers that monitors the finances of large Christian organizations. They’ve asked the IRS to determine whether the tax exempt status of your ministry should be revoked. Is anything happening with that?
KING: Do you know about this organization?
MEYER: I’ve heard their name because of what — because of just what you’re saying right here.
KING: You’ve never heard from them?
MEYER: I’ve never talk to them. They’ve never asked me a question. They — the best that I know, and I checked, actually, with our accountant today, because I didn’t want to give wrong information. They sent us some paperwork a couple of years ago, wanted us to fill out all this paperwork. Well, we didn’t even know who they were and so we sent them a letter of decline. And, so, then they decided that, because we wouldn’t answer their questions, that we were dishonest.
The only problem is, is we have a legal audit every year. We have a regular audit every year. We have lawyers. We have CPA’s, and I basically don’t do much of anything without checking with somebody to make sure that it’s right. And so, although no one would enjoy an IRS investigation because of the time that it takes and what’s required, I wouldn’t be afraid of it, because I don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong.
KING: You think the Jim and Tammy Faye’s hurt all Christian ministries?
MEYER: I think it hurt the reputation of Christianity tremendously, yes. I think that one of the things that Christianity really needs, and the church really needs, is credibility. People need to be able to trust us and they need to believe we really want to help them and that it’s not just, I’m-doing-this-for-me type thing.
KING: We’ll be right back with Joyce Meyer on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don’t go away.
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MEYER: Now, here is the first thing the devil is going to say to you when you try to control yourself. But it’s hard. We need to lose that sentence from our vocabulary. But it’s just so hard. It’s just so hard! Well, it’s just so hard! I’ll tell you what’s hard, staying in bondage is hard.
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MEYER: I didn’t really understand the importance of little things. I didn’t really understand that it was the little foxes that spoil the vine. And if we’re not faithful in little things, that God will never be able to make us ruler over great things. And you can think whatever you want to and laugh, but I believe if I would have never learned to put my stuff back on the right grocery store shelves, and I would have never learned to put my cart back where God told me to, I don’t believe I would be standing here today preaching this message to you. And I think there are literally millions of people who miss the will of God for their life because they think little things don’t make any difference.
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KING: We’re back with Joyce Meyer. Now, you’ve certainly overcome quite a background. Your lifestyle, you have a private plane, a large house. You and your husband and children are all on the payroll of the ministry. You said God wants to establish his covenant in your life, and his covenant is I will take care of you and take care of you in style. That means poor Christians are not being taken care of by God?
MEYER: No, I didn’t say that. I just said…
KING: I’m asking you. If someone is homeless…
MEYER: Oh, no, you know, I don’t…
KING: … can’t they be as good a believer as you?
MEYER: Oh, absolutely.
KING: So why aren’t they getting that break?
MEYER: Well, you know, the Bible says be it unto you even as you believe. And I think a lot of people believe that they have to be poor to serve God, that they can’t have anything. They don’t really even know how to give. And one of the main principles in the Bible is you’ll reap what you sew, and that if you give into the lives of others, that it shall be given back to you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together.
If you go plant one tomato seed, you don’t get one back one tomato; you get a vine of tomatoes. And — which is also a godly principle. I’m talking about the gardening thing; God did that too. But the same principle works with the word of God. If I’m a blessing to you, then either God will put it on your heart to bless me, or he’ll use somebody else to bless me. If I’m friendly with you, then I’ll have friends. If I’m merciful with people, the Bible says I’ll get mercy back. If I’m not judgmental, then people won’t be judgmental with me. And it works also with finances. If you give to help other hurting people and you give to the preaching of the gospel, because you love God, then God takes care of you. He makes your — you know, it’s kind of like the tithing, Christians believe in giving 10 percent of their income to church work, and what, you know, we were talking about before about things that don’t make sense — well, what sense does it make to say to somebody, if you need more, give away some of what you have? But it works.
KING: How about this — Lenny Bruce was a friend of mine, who once said, any person who got a calling to lead a flock, who has more than one suit while someone has no clothes is a copout.
MEYER: Well, I don’t agree with that, you know. Jesus said when the woman poured the alabaster bottle of perfume on him that was worth almost a year’s wages, and Judas, who was very money-minded, said you shouldn’t have done that, because you’re wasting that, we could have sold that and given it to the poor. And Jesus himself said, you will always have the poor with you, but she has done this as an honor to me, and she will be honored for it all of her days.
And so you never run out of poor people. You could give everything you had, I could give everything I had, and the world would still be full of poor people.
God is not asking us to not have anything or even to give away every single thing that we have. He is asking us to share with people who have less than us, which we do all the time.
KING: How about church and state? Should the church — are you involved in politics?
MEYER: No, I’m not political. I’m patriotic. KING: Did you endorse a candidate for president?
MEYER: Yeah. I had the one that I wanted to vote for, I mean…
KING: But did you tell people, vote for George Bush or vote for John Kerry?
MEYER: Oh, you can’t really do that when you’re in ministry. What we told people to do was vote godly, to really look at the candidates and to see what the people believed.
KING: Well, both were observing Christians. One was a born again. One was an observing Catholic.
KING: Both believed in God. Both believed in worship.
MEYER: But their policies were different on what they said…
KING: That’s different. That’s policy. You said follow God. They were both godly, so…
MEYER: Well, let’s say godly principles. And you know, as far as am I political — actually, our ministry is involved in helping people to understand that they need to be involved. They need to let their voice be made known. We encourage, literally, hundreds of thousands of people to vote at the election. We sent out e-mails. We did not tell them who to vote for, we just asked them to really look at what the candidates believed, and to make sure that they voted…
KING: Believed as related to God or believed in…
MEYER: Well, God and/or godly principles, you know.
KING: The war in Iraq wouldn’t be godly or godly principles?
MEYER: No. No. Just, you know, God or godly principles, and vote according to what they felt they should do in their heart.
KING: Do you believe you have a lot of power politically? The evangelical groups, that’s one of the contention of the “Time” article. If you have — you call the White House, the call is taken?
MEYER: Well, I’ve never called, so I don’t know. But I think that, yes, I believe if Christians come together, that you know, the Bible calls us the army of God, and I believe that, you know, you would have power in any arena. Anybody who comes together, you know, in a large group and they all believe the same thing, they’re going to generate a certain amount of power. The Bible says one puts 1,000 in flight, and two 10,000, and so on and so forth. And so even if you and I got into agreement about something, we would have more power than each of us by ourselves.
KING: Right. But the question is, how do you use it?
KING: Do you — what are your thoughts when you say you love all people? What are your thoughts about — you mentioned earlier judge not lest you be judged. Do you judge homosexuality?
MEYER: Well, I knew you’d ask me this, too.
KING: I think you’re more of a psychic than a (INAUDIBLE).
KING: You knew something I didn’t know, because I never know what I’m going to ask.
MEYER: But I kind of watch what you’ve been asking, those questions. Obviously, Larry, if I believe the Bible, then I don’t believe that a gay lifestyle or a homosexual lifestyle is the right way to choose to live. I believe that there’s something so much better.
KING: You believe it’s a choice?
MEYER: I believe it’s definitely a choice.
KING: So you chose heterosexuality?
KING: How did you choose it? Because I chose it, but I don’t remember how I chose it. I mean, I’m heterosexual, but I don’t know why I’m heterosexual.
KING: I know that I’m heterosexual.
MEYER: Well, I think that that’s the natural way that God intended us to be. I just followed the natural way that I was. I didn’t have to consciously think, do I want to do this or don’t I?
KING: So the people who are gay then chose it?
MEYER: I believe that, yes.
KING: Why would they choose it?
MEYER: I think a lot of different reasons. I believe a lot of people that are gay, had even had problems like I had in the past. I think they’ve been hurt by somebody from the opposite sex, and they don’t know how to function right in those relationships.
When you’re hurt very badly in your childhood, the area that it has the greatest effect on is relationships. Once you feel like you can’t trust people, once you feel like that they don’t care about you, that they’re really not going to take care of you, it gets very difficult in relationships. And you know, I’ve been so mistreated by male authority in my life that I had a terrible time in my marriage trying to be a submissive wife, you know. I mean, I wanted to rule the roost in everything. And it wasn’t even really that I was rebellious; I was afraid of being hurt. And I think that a lot of people that choose these alternative lifestyles, I think it’s because they’ve been hurt somewhere along the line very badly.
KING: We’ll be right back with Joyce Meyer. The book soon to come — I’ll ask about it — “Approval Addiction” what does she mean by that after this.
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MEYER: So often, we blame other people when, really, the problem is right down in here. I’m not happy. I don’t know what’s wrong. If I just had another job, I could be happy. If I just get married, I would be happy. Well if I just wasn’t married, I would be happy. Well, if I just had some kids, I’ll be happy. I’ll be happy when these kids finally grow up and get out of here. If I had a bigger house, I would be happy. Well, I got a big house. Now if I just had a maid to clean, I’d be happy. Well, now if I just had a maid, I could get along with better, I’d be happy.
Come on. Get a revelation. You’re the only common demoninator in every one of these situations.
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MEYER: Because Dave is 6’4-1/2, he would get in one the other aisles and he could see me, but I couldn’t see him. So he would take things like a roll of toilet paper and throw it over the aisle at me.
Well see, Dave’s whole mentality was if he was going to go, he was going to enjoy it. Well, I went with a purpose and a goal. And I had my list and I wanted to get the stuff, get it in the cart, get it through the checkout lane, put it in the car take it home, put it away and be bored some more.
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KING: We’re back with Joyce Meyer, who completely discusses her past. You’ve chain smoked?
KING: Welcome to the club. You drank?
MEYER: A little bit. I didn’t have much of a problem with liquor, but I did drink.
KING: Stole things. MEYER: Stole things, yes.
KING: Someone called you the Dr. Phil of Christianity?
MEYER: I’ve heard of that.
KING: What do we mean by approval addiction?
MEYER: Well, I believe that a lot of people in our society today, people who have been hurt and even people who haven’t been hurt, get their worth and value from what they do, what they look like, what they own, what kind of job they have, what kind of house they live in, how much money they have, what social circles they’re in, what level of education they have, especially even how other people respond to them. They feel better about themselves if everybody is giving a smiling nod to the way they look and all their choices.
KING: Need that?
MEYER: They need that constant, you’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK. And the problem with that is, is you can become so manipulated and controlled by what you think other people expect you to do that you literally live under the tyranny of other people’s expectations. And what I call the shoulds and the oughts.
You’re not doing things, because you feel led to do them. You’re not doing them because it’s in your heart to do them. You’re not doing it necessarily even because you feel it’s right for you, but you feel you should. You feel you ought. It’s someone’s expectation. You don’t want to make people mad.
And I believe that literally, hundreds of thousands of people miss their God-ordained destiny and they never really feel satisfied, content and fulfilled, because they’re so busy trying to keep everybody else satisfied with them that they don’t ever get around to doing what they really want to do.
KING: And what do you recommend?
MEYER: Well, I believe that people need to get their worth and value from knowing that God loves them. I believe that all healing in our inner man and even, you know we know Christ also heals people’s physical diseases, but the Bible says he heals our wounds and bruises.
And I believe that just knowing that you’re loved — I mean, I have had people write in and say, I heard you say on that television, God loves you. And he loves you unconditionally. And he wants to be in relationship with you. Don’t worry about what’s wrong with you right now, God accepts you just the way you are and he will help you be what he wants you to be.
And I’ve had people tell me, you wouldn’t think that would be possible in this day and age, but I have had people tell me, I never had anybody tell me that and really know that they were sincere. And when you said that to me, it changed my life. KING: We’re almost out of time. Do you ever doubt?
MEYER: Do I ever doubt? Oh, sure. You deal with doubt all the time. You have to choose to believe God in every situation. I remind myself all the time, get out of fear. Get out of doubt. Get back in faith.
KING: First of other visits, I hope.
MEYER: Thank you. God bless you.
KING: Joyce Meyer, her newest book “Approval Addiction” among the 25 most influential of evangelicals in America. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow. Don’t go away.
KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay tuned for news around the clock on your most trusted name in news, CNN. See you tomorrow night. Good night.
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