What Do You Do With Failure?!?!

The Lord, a few years back, had shared with me the statement I put in the picture right here:IMG_1492.PNG  This was hard for me to hear back then because I was a “law woman”. Keeping the rules with a slave mentality instead of a daughter mentality was the relationship I chose to have with my Father in Heaven…until He set me free (see It is Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law).  Yesterday, as I talked with a good friend, the Lord reminded me of this word. As I was talking, I finally received understanding for this statement because He has helped me understand how to be His woman.  First and foremost, we must start at the right starting point: Jesus took my place and all punishment, condemnation, and sickness, that was my due because of sin, was placed on His body and for that I am eternally grateful.  I didn’t understand this when He had told me this a few years ago…I was still striving in my own effort to hold up my part of the bargain in this relationship with God; which I had been taught in the church to do (religious law keeping). If I didn’t hold up my part of the bargain then I was lacking, God would then turn away from me or lift His hand of protection. I would then have to go to Him repent, showing enough remorse. Then, and only then, He would be able to look back towards me, cover me again with His hand and all would be well……until…….I somehow messed up again.  This was a continual process of shame, guilt and remorse….and I NEVER felt like I would EVER be good enough for Him.  Wow!! So the statement, there is no failure in Him had me mystified…until….yesterday.  All because I have the right starting point now.  Here is the picture God gave me:

When I see His timeline or plan, many times it comes to me as a tapestry that is being made.  It is not complete, but is complete.  In the inner weaving of this fabric pattern are the failures in which He has made a beautiful tapestry out of.  Yes, the failures which He has made beautiful.  How can that be?!?!?!!!! These failures are not failures because they have actually fulfilled a purpose in our lives which He ALWAYS make BEAUTIFUL for His sons and daughters.  The scripture that comes to mind is this:

“Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;”
‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭CJB

I encourage you to put past failures in His hands and take a look at the bigger picture of the tapestry of life that He is creating.  It is beautiful and honors Him. ❤

It All Begins and Ends With Trust

I have been studying blessings and curses and how it pertains to what Jesus did for us.  I have been also studying the armor of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians.  God will tell us things so that we pray, so that we stand.  I think the standing we have learned vs the way the early believers stood are different.  I believe this is because the early believers knew it was a fight for faith or trust above anything else-remember Paul firmly stated to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (‭‭2 Timothy (2 Ti)‬ 4:7) and also, “Fight the good fight of the faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you testified so well to your faith before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Faith meaning to believe, trust, cling to. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  In Romans 14:23 Paul states, “But the doubter comes under condemnation if he eats, because his action is not based on trust. And anything not based on trust is a sin.”.  Now, no worries here because Paul talks more about faith or trust here in Romans 12:6 “But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust;”. And remember Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man takes and sows in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up it is larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the birds flying about come and nest in its branches.”” Mattityahu (Mat)‬ ‭13:31-32‬ ‭CJB‬‬. Also Paul stated, “For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift.” ‭‭Ephesians (Eph)‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭CJB‬‬. So, we start off with a mustard seed and God grows our faith which is a gift of God.

Some may have more trust in one area and another more trust in a different area….that is why Paul said, “or, to put it another way, so that by my being with you, we might, through the faith we share, encourage one another.”  The common faith, trust or belief in Who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us we have as believers when we come together we are able to encourage one another as God grows our faith in who we are in Him through our life circumstances.

I refuse to make the enemy bigger than God (read Why Seek Something Inferior??? (Charlie Game) or God Is Bigger Than The Boogeyman?) or believe that God doesn’t know the circumstances that are going on in my life (read God’s Big Plan).  Faith or trust in Who God is and all of what Jesus Christ did for us in His death and resurrection is exactly what the enemy wants us not to trust or believe in.  We tend to think it is about the circumstances when truly the enemy is trying to bring doubt to our belief or trust in ALL that Jesus did and how the Father loves us.  img_1365This is truly the enemy’s tactic.  The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy your trust.  That is what he is roaming about to do.  Yet God brought eternal life through His Son which we receive through trust. So with this foundation in the next post I will get into either the armor of God or blessings and curses…..stay tuned. 😊 This is exciting stuff!

We All Have Our Storms

How I see this as the beginning and how God sees the beginning are two different viewpoints…but I will start where I see the beginning; otherwise this would become a book not a blog, lol!!

img_1103It started for me when I stood in the shadow of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.  I have tried to describe the sensation I had while standing in a place in the time period I live in but also knowing the history of this place.  I knew Paul may have walked in the same streets I was walking on and so many early Christians had definitely walked. As I stood there I fully realized: We all have our storms we must weather.  Since then the story of Jesus in the boat with the disciples has been in my mind.  Along with a book I had read by Ted Dekker two years ago.  While pondering the scripture with Jesus in the boat there was a story from my past that also kept coming forward.  Let’s start with the story: I was in high school and although I had done nothing that would even hint towards what would be whispered about me it didn’t stop the rumor that I was pregnant from going around the school.  I went home devastated and my mother told me that the truth would come out. Which of course was an easy one since in nine months there was no pregnancy or baby. I think for most of us our name being dragged in the mud or lies/rumors being told can be devastating. It can ruin people’s livelihoods and yet…God wanted to show me something.

Two years ago when my name began to be drug through the mud I wanted to, just like I wanted in high school, find out where it started at and confront the person or persons. I was angry and wronged.  I think it is difficult for anyone to sit back and listen to what is being said about you that is not true.  For me it has been a desire to clear my name and in doing that clear others too.  There is this piece inside of me that desires the truth and God made me that way and it is good.  Yet again, I knew God wanted to show me something deeper.

A few days ago I woke up feeling so much peace.  I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t pray for hours, I didn’t do anything.  God hears our hearts’ prayers because I had this peace but didn’t understand why I felt such peace.  A couple of days later, still in peace, I woke up and I distinctly heard the Lord say to me:

“It is time to let go of the need to clear your name. Trust Me.”

With this statement I knew that is exactly what He had done for me…taken away my need to clear my name and gave me peace.  I felt safe.  This came from the innermost place within me, my heart.

Please remember: I didn’t do this for myself or go through any particular steps, God simply did it for me, in His time and exactly when I needed it.  And He will do the same for you, because He loves you and desires the best for you.  (Luke 11:13)

After He stated this, He again reminded me of when He was in the boat with His disciples and the book I had read two years ago: 30 A.D. by Ted Dekker.  In this book I had highlighted some things when I had read it and I felt driven to go look.  Here I want to share a few quotes from the book:

“And why does man get angry? Because he feels threatened or wronged. And why does he feel threatened? Because he does not feel safe.”

“No threat in a rumor.”

“Nothing in this world threatens you.”

and lastly: “Release the fear your understanding shows you in the storm…..By trusting Me instead, not the storm and not the boat.”

See the disciples were of little faith or maybe better understood as little trust when they feared the storm and feared for their safety.  What was of greatest importance was the fact that Jesus was in their boat.  This is when I understood that the boat was the perfect example of our heart. What I was beginning to understand is nothing in this world threatens us, as Believers (faith in, trust in) in Christ.  This is how I knew Christians could walk into the Colosseum and face such horrible things.  They lived from a particular place that I wanted to understand and God was helping me to understand.

img_1312Let me dig a little deeper and hopefully put a picture to this.  In the Old Testament the Glory of the Lord was in the temple and now He lives in us, in our heart.  This fact led me to study the word: heart, among many others.  Today though all I want to discuss is the word heart in scripture to bring the fullness out of what Christ did on the Cross and what He is doing inside of us!!! Here the scripture from Romans 6:17:

“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” NASB‬‬

Let’s look at the word heart in Greek, which will give us the fullness of what is being talked about

Strong’s Concordance
kardia: heart
Original Word: καρδία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: kardia
Phonetic Spelling: (kar-dee’-ah)
Short Definition: the heart, inner life, intention
Definition: lit: the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center.
HELPS Word-studies
2588 kardía – heart; “the affective center of our being” and the capacity of moral preference (volitional desire, choice; see P. Hughs, 2 Cor, 354); “desire-producer that makes us tick” (G. Archer), i.e our “desire-decisions” that establish who we really are.  [Heart (2588 /kardía) is mentioned over 800 times in Scripture, but never referring to the literal physical pump that drives the blood. That is, “heart” is only used figuratively (both in the OT and NT.]  universally, καρδία denotes the seat and center of all physical and spiritual life.

Let’s look at the scripture in Ephesians 3:17, where it states exactly where Christ comes to dwell:

“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lordʼs holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” NASB

The heart is the center of our being when used in scripture. It not only contains the physical part but the spiritual part of us. When we have declared with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believed (trusted, faith) in our heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10:9). In this the Holy Spirit resides in your heart, the center of your whole being.  Kingdom of heaven resides now within the center of your being. Kingdom meaning rule of God in your heart- both physically and spiritually.  Heaven meaning we truly are seated in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6).   This is the kingdom of heaven in us and through us.

As I saw this from a much newer perspective, I understood more of what God did in me, for me and my trust in Him deepened. I saw God more clearly, exactly what I have asked for…to see Him as clear as He sees me.  This is a lifelong, eternal relationship. I did not do this myself, I didn’t in and of myself heal myself…no….. I simply live from the fact that Christ lives in me, God has reign over my heart and He means good for me even in the midst of the storm, there is a peace that comes only from Him-it is always there, trust not in your boat (whatever that may be) nor fear what the storm can do to you.

This truth was born out of the fact in trusting (believing) God that I am safe in Jesus, always…no matter what things may look like.

This is something we constantly need to be reminded of, this is why the Body of Christ is so important for one another. The reminder of exactly where you are living from- a heart, your whole being: physical and spiritual where God dwells and has brought His kingdom into.

Letting go of my boat (my name being cleared) didn’t make what was done to me right, it also doesn’t mean I don’t speak truth when called or needed.  What it means is that it is no longer my “end result”, I don’t ever have to see it happen.  If it does great, if it doesn’t I will be okay because:

I trust God and His larger plan.

Amazing Grace, Amazing Peace ❤️

‭‭

The Struggle Is Real 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

How many times have you used this scripture to remind yourself of what is truly going on behind the scenes?  I have used it many times; yet I don’t think I truly had a definite core value regarding it.  Remember I have talked about core values, how they line up with your actions and how your actions don’t always line up with your words; you can read more in these articles: Simon of Cyrene and Core values and Grace. I believe we have all had AHA! moments with God.  This is when we see God clearer and where true repentance happens in that moment; when we see things the way God sees them.

I had started this blog stating I would share openly what is happening with me, an open life journal.  There are times this is fun and at times it isn’t. Yet, I choose to live from the inside out in honesty.  Why a public forum???….maybe it will help someone else.

I had been talking to my husband, Bryan, over a month ago.  There had been a situation that had happened and I was angry at the injustice in it and the history that I have seen and heard about regarding these same people.  I looked  at Bryan and I said, “I hate them, no don’t look at me like that, I hate them!”  Now my husband and I have been married for nineteen years and thankfully he knows when to let me just say what is in my heart and let the Lord deal with me, haha!!  I went on, “My mom told me not to say I hate someone, I can say I dislike them but not hate. But Bryan, I hate them.” Later as scripture flooded my heart like: hate in the heart is just like murder and you aren’t walking in the light because you hate it would have been easy to be overcome by self hatred and failure like I had in the past.  But see I know the trick of the enemy, he loves to use scripture to always tell me I can’t measure up.  So, I agree with him in the truth that I can’t live up to the law, ever.  But I know Someone who has….and that is Jesus!!  In that moment I am so thankful, grateful for all that Jesus did for me and the whole world and in that thankfulness something always happens for me but first I had to be open and honest with what was going on inside of me.  If we start at the wrong starting point with God and see Him as a judge of our actions and not realizing all of God’s wraith has been taken on His own Son then we are fearful and can’t approach God with what is going on inside….and we begin to pretend that all is well (saying no, no I am in control of my emotions I don’t feel that way) and all we are doing is painting the outside as good and not dealing with the inside and we know God is more interested with our inside.  We must acknowledge the truth of what is going on inside of us.  Jesus took the law all the way to our hearts, trying to show us we can not ever perform this, but He could fulfill the law for us.

So, what do I do with this???  This very real feeling of hate in my heart?? These were real things that someone has done, is doing and may continue to do until God gets ahold of them.  I think it was about a week later when God spoke to my heart and this is what He said:

Darlene, you don’t hate the person you hate their actions. It is the action not the person you hate. This is what it means when Paul was explaining to the Ephesians that the fight is not against flesh and blood but the powers and principalities of darkness.  It is okay to hate wicked “acts” but you really don’t hate the person because the person has been made in My image and you walk in Me, in the Light, it isn’t who you are.  What you are railing against are the powers and principalities of darkness.

Here are some scriptures that go along with what He told me:

“”The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭8:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalms‬ ‭97:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Now I was able to see things more clearly, literally dividing the person from their actions.  Look, I fully understand that I am not perfect because I know the Perfect one climbed on the Cross willingly for me and the whole world.  People choose to do evil things to one another but that doesn’t define who they are. Jesus defines who they are, they are still created in God’s image.  Does this mean that these actions are okay…no……and I wrote more about this in: Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4) and Has “Sorry” Lost Its’ Potency (Final Part)

Just because I have forgiven the person for their behavior does not mean that I need to trust them, or be around them.  Nor does this mean I should not look at and judge the actions they have made.  Note I said judge their actions; I didn’t say judge the person.  Lastly, remember forgiveness doesn’t come overnight, it is a process of healing with God and friends. You can read more here: We Stand In the New Covenant.

img_1280Now, I feel like I have written on my heart:  “Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  This is simply Jesus in His fullness….I in Him and Him in me.  I do not have to make an effort within myself not to do something….because literally Jesus has changed me from the inside out.  This is where I have the privilege to walk everyday, because of Jesus.

✨ Let Your Light Shine ✨

A little personal celebration….this is my 💯th post! 🎉🎊. Okay…now to my subject. 😊

On my way back to my room one morning on the ship, I walked by the wedding chapel which happened to be on our deck and I heard a bible study going on and the question asked was…How do you let your light shine?  I walked on pondering this question in my heart of how that looks to me now and thought of the many people I know who do this effortlessly daily; just this like my friends who own their own business and how they have successfully let their light shine without condemnation, shame, or judgement.

Yet, I want to look a little deeper……and am hoping you will come along with me 😉

The other morning while talking to God I had a vision that I want to share.  This vision was of me praying and as I ended the prayer I was going to say, “in Jesus Name I pray”.  As I went to say this I could see Jesus in me and I in Him.  Making John 14:20 come to life: “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”  It was like an essence in me and around me.  In that moment, I believe, I understood in a greater way what “in Jesus Name” really means.  I believe that I am where Paul was at in Acts 19 in understanding what the Name of Jesus holds.  Let’s look at scripture:

In John 14:13-14, we read the well-known scripture from Jesus, ““Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” ‭‭NASB‬‬.

There are also many scriptures that refer to Jesus’ Name and believing in it, asking in it, baptizing in it, being gathered in it, cast out demons in it, speak in new tongues in it, perform miracles in it, receives children in it, and receives the Father in it.  I want to expand your understanding of Jesus’ Name and how much more it means then maybe what you have thought of it as.  So many times I have been taught or read how we must pray in His Name. It has become so many times, at least for me, a way to get something done in the spiritual realm.

I was talking to a friend recently about deliverance. (BTW, one of my favorite topics now). We were discussing the lack of power when dealing with the demonic.  I was explaining to her the importance of who you are and Whose you are and the complete reliance of ALL that Christ did on the Cross.  She was explaining to me some circumstances and the “methodology” that has developed in many Christian circles regarding dealing with the demonic.  One of those methods was the use of Jesus Name.  Now there are plenty of times in Acts where we see this used….yet there are times we don’t see this used…..so where does this leave us???  I think we need to look at the fullness, the multifaceted meaning of the word “name” in Greek because I believe with all my heart, that what I experienced the other morning was exactly where the apostles and believers in the book of Acts came to understand as they walked with the Holy Spirit in them.  First let’s look at the Greek word for “name”:

ónoma – name; (figuratively) the manifestation or revelation of someone’s character, i.e. as distinguishing them from all others.  A little more description coming from Hebrew understanding: “According to Hebrew notions, a name is inseparable from the person to whom it belongs, i.e. it is something of his essence. Therefore, in the case of the God, it is specially sacred” (Souter). (emphasis mine)

Second, let’s look at a couple of scriptures that help explain first our position in Christ because we believe in Him or Who He is and second just what happened at the end of Acts with miracles God was doing through Paul:

Jesus talking: ““I’ve used figures of speech in telling you these things. Soon I’ll drop the figures and tell you about the Father in plain language. Then you can make your requests directly to him in relation to this life I’ve revealed to you. I won’t continue making requests of the Father on your behalf. I won’t need to. Because you’ve gone out on a limb, committed yourselves to love and trust in me, believing I came directly from the Father, the Father loves you directly. First, I left the Father and arrived in the world; now I leave the world and travel to the Father.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭16:25-28‬ ‭MSG‬‬ (emphasis mine)

“God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing—handkerchiefs and scarves and the like—that had touched Paul’s skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it—they were healed and whole.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭19:11-12‬ ‭MSG‬‬ (emphasis mine)

Lastly let me give a real life example about a woman who my friend knew. This woman had come to us for prayer.  She told us that she felt God’s love by standing with my friend and I. This had been the first time she had felt God’s love in years because she had dabbled with witchcraft most of her adult life.  My friend and I never once prayed over her or proclaimed Jesus Name over her.  What did happen is she felt Jesus’ essence (name) emanating from us.  We simply stood near her.  God wanted this for her more than anything and He did it.

img_1265As we believe in His Name, we will then have the essence of Him in us and us in Him, we will manifest and reveal Him in our actions as we simply believe we walk in Him and Him with us. We reveal a part of His character as we bring freedom and healing for those around us. As we become more assured of the fact Christ never leaves us nor forsakes us even when we have done something wrong is when we then fully believe Christ truly took ALL sin, ALL condemnation, ALL sickness and disease on Himself and finished, and paid our penalty for all time this is when we begin to fully walk in our authority of what Jesus died for us to have. The church is who has been left on this earth to bring heaven to earth. We are the light and the salt of the earth.  That is you and I as believers in Christ’s Name. What I am saying here is that, His essence lives in you.  This is a fact, believe it and your light shines!  You can’t help but shine because you exude Jesus and in that it reveals His character.  Just Who He is.  As we more fully understand or maybe just believe this truth we will see these greater things Jesus promised His people would do.  Anybody ready for handkerchiefs and scarves?  I am!! ❤️

Ummmm…Is That An Elephant in the Room?!?!?

imageIt is time for me to stop ignoring the elephant in the room. For too long I have allowed a “no reply unless asked” about what happened a year ago to both me and my family which has in some instances created an “elephant in the room”. Now elephants cooped up will make a very large mess. It is time to set the elephant free and clean up some mess. I believe the only way to do this, at this point, is right here with some facts.  No naming names, if you know me you will know who I am talking about just like what was done to me publicly from the pulpit, emails and group meetings. See no names were named publicly by others but we became known as were “the people who left” and people did know who exactly whom was being talked about. This is in no way to “get back” or “get even”  it is only to set the record straight, tell my side, and just tell some what had happened (if I told every fact here it would be pages) for those that have been too afraid to ask me.

Everyone always wants to know how things got started, I usually have to point back seven years ago but for here we will start with…..

…back in November of 2014, the morning of Thanksgiving, the Lord began to reveal to me over the next three days something which changed my perspective of how I see God, which in turn radically changed my whole life and the life of my family. It wasn’t something really new but in fact very old. If you want you can read about it in this post It’s Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law.   Through the last twenty years I had learned something very different from the churches I have attended. So, what the Lord began to reveal to me flew in the face of what most churches in America teach or adhere to. After the three days, on Saturday, I posted on Facebook: “The Lord has revealed something to me that has changed me and my family forever. I feel like my face is shining like Moses did.” My pastor (the lead pastor), at the time, had asked me the next day if I could send him what the Lord revealed to me and my husband, who was standing next to me, said yes. I wrote out three pages of notes for the lead pastor and my husband read them before I sent them. After the lead pastor read it he stated to me that the essence of what I wrote was that the enemy always tries to make us forget who we are. That statement was not the fullness of what I had written nor the summation of what had been revealed to me. A couple of days later the Lord answered my question, “What is the essence of what You showed me?”  He answered,

“The essence of what you wrote is that church leadership likes to put rules, regulations and standards on My sheep to “protect” them but what it actually does is put them in bondage-(you yourself have done this before-God had given me a very distinct open eyed vision of what I had done and what it looked like which helped me to “see”). This is a core value that I want pulled out of the church because it is based on fear not faith.”

I later posted this statement on Facebook img_0391-1and the next day is when I first got an email to consider the post from the co lead pastor at the church we had attended for almost nine years. By “consider” I knew the post needed to be taken down, because this was not the first time I was asked to “consider a post” I had on Facebook. I replied I would not take the post down because I thought it was true regarding the world wide church and needed to be said to bring freedom. Later, I received a text to call the co lead pastor. I called and was then accused of trying to hurt my church and them, the pastors. I said no, that I never intended to hurt them or the church. I related again it was truly meant for the world wide church as a whole and I had used myself as an example in the post, making it personal to me. It was then I was told, because of the post,there were people questioning my feelings about the church, pastors and leadership. I asked if they would please refer these people to me. I even referenced Matthew 18 and how it is biblical for the party to come to me first and ask me if they have questions about my feelings or thoughts in regards to the post. I was then told they would not refer the people questioning and I had to understand people prefer coming to their pastors instead of asking the people involved. The post remained up for several reasons: first I was not going to give away my free choice to follow God and not fear man anymore, second it is my Facebook page, third it was a true and accurate statement and fourth my heart intent was not to be malicious with the post, but to bring freedom.  Next, an associate pastor called a couple days later and requested we meet about the post. We met and the main question was, “When will you submit to the lead pastors?”. Actually four times that same question was asked. I told her I was doing what the Lord had asked me to do, my heart intent was never to harm but to bring freedom, even using myself as an example in the post. She asked me would I ask the Lord again and I agreed to. Later that night the Lord said, “It is finished…” So I deleted the post on a Thursday night and let all the pastors involved know the post was down.  I had also let one very close friend know the post was taken down, as she was praying for a peaceful resolution in all of this. My friends husband had seen the lead pastor the next day and asked him privately if they are making a habit of “policing Facebook”? That same morning, I got a phone call from the co lead pastor stating we needed to meet immediately. We did meet that same afternoon. Our conversation boiled down to the fact she was mad because she claimed she had never told me to take the post down and I believed she had asked me to take it down.

By now, I had also begun to blog again about what the Lord had revealed over the Thanksgiving weekend. I think it was the next week when Bryan (my husband) and I got called into the office with the lead pastor. He had said he wanted me to explain in more detail what the Lord had revealed in what I had sent him. I knew before we went that wasn’t exactly what he wanted and knew there were two things that were going to be required by the end of this meeting. Here is what it all came down to: He wanted me to write a post on FB that stated I was not talking about his church, the pastors or the leaders in the post I had deleted (this I didn’t expect and told him that would just dredge it all up again and didn’t think it was wise), I was to no longer blog against their doctrine or theology, if I did blog again he would have to authorize it and lastly “was there anything I would like for him to take back to his wife”, the co-lead pastor (I think they were fishing for an apology; but I am still not completely sure). I blogged again, fully aware that I would most likely be asked to step down from leadership, my family and I would be shunned, we would be pushed out of the church, my boys would lose friendships, and I would most likely be called Jezebel and probably worse. How did I know all of this would happen? Over the years puzzle pieces were taking on a form from questions that never were fully answered about others that had disappeared from this same church. All of what I thought might happen did indeed happen and more.

First though, because I had blogged again, my husband and I got called in to meet with the lead pastor again. This time there was an associate pastor present. The meeting, probably at the most, took ten minutes. The Lord had told me I was to be silent as a sheep before a shearer fully knowing that I would be asked to step down from leadership. The only thing we were to say is: “That is your choice” and ask two questions for clarity. There was no reason given for asking me to step down. I was simply told that is what they decided. My husband said that is your choice. The two questions for clarity were about my husband and our boys regarding leadership duties. Bryan was to step down also but the boys could continue. We got up and left, civil and short. Yet, this became only the beginning of an almost year long nightmare.

Not only was my family targeted, but also any family that would ask questions about what was happening with us, question the statements made about us or try to bring restoration by hearing all sides and bring together a meeting. Next the same good friends of ours that had asked about “policing Facebook” were told by the co lead pastor and an associate pastor to ban us from their place of business. My friends said “no” and asked these pastors this very important question, “If Darlene is that deceived, shouldn’t we, like Jesus, leave the 99 and go after her, not shun her?”. This is when one by one each of their children were told they could no longer serve in any form of leadership position in the church and my friends business was shunned by all pastors and the leadership of the church followed suit. It went so far as people were being told my friend was a witch and she was practicing voodoo out of their business. I know it sounds CRAZY. Yet what is crazier is people believe it even to this day.  My friends lives became turned upside down all because they said they would allow me to come into their business and if all of what the pastors were saying about me were true they would do what Jesus did and go after me.  Next two other families were also targeted, one because she had stepped down from leadership because of the “gossip” that was happening in both the pastoral team and leadership about me and the co lead pastor wanted her to lie about why she was stepping down. The other family wanted to bring biblical restoration and was told by the lead pastor that will never occur. All of a sudden all four families were caught up in this same nightmare.

See, we never intended to leave our church. We loved the people. Yet when the preaching from the pulpit begins to be directly pointed at what you last blogged about; you are shunned and made to feel unwelcome; while at work, with children all around, two different associate pastors approach you separately, one female and one male, (the male being very angry, so angry spittle comes out of his mouth and his face is red as a beet) they accuse you of being deceived and the deception is over and when you ask what deception they don’t answer but continue to just say that same sentence over and over to you, you begin to not feel safe; young adults and adults you have known for years all of a sudden don’t know if they can talk to you and begin unfriending you on Facebook and Instagram; people literally run from you in the store; my boys youth pastors don’t even have the decency to text them back; you are being lied about; and you are then told to leave the church through an email. You decide it is best to leave. Even after leaving, the character assassination continues for months later: you are then likened to fallen angels; called Jezebel; a bible study is given out stating “those that have left” are rebellious like the sons of Korah; you are considered a hyper grace advocate(whatever that is or isn’t); the pastors/leadership are insinuating your children will fall away from God and so most of their friends that go to that church are too afraid to be friends with them anymore; it is stated you no longer follow God; it is said you wanted to control them; other church pastors in this area are “warned about us”; I am deceived and anyone that is close to me will become deceived also; and on and on. You then begin to understand why many people were thankful to move away from or simply disappear from these pastors themselves and the people they have influence with. Because quite honestly you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

There is so much more to this story…but what I have found is I am not the first that this has happened to. I would like to hope, I am the last. The cycle needs to stop. Not just in this church but in any church that in anyway thinks this behavior is okay. The “code of silence” calling it “gossip” if facts or truth is told needs to stop in the church. What I have seen is real gossip isn’t called gossip and non-gossip (fact telling of your story) is considered gossip-that is simply backwards. Others have said: God is your defender! And yes, why yes He is. But we also need to see ALL Jesus accomplished at the Cross. At the Cross Jesus gave us dominion of the earth back to us. He paid a mighty price for it. We have a part in all of this that must be done. Remember He called us His Hands and Feet and He had no problem calling things as they were. Why because of LOVE. REAL LOVE. This pattern of demonizing people, trying to control them with fear, and when they aren’t controlled we must shun them is unhealthy and not Christlike in any way. All that has been stated about me, my family, my friends and those this has happened to in the past has ALL been done in FEAR. I truly believe that His perfect love casts out ALL fear. If we do not rightly believe: that no matter what happens, God loves us…..then we can easily give place to fear. That fear spot is the ONLY way in the enemy has in our lives. He preys on that fear. I fully rest in Him knowing- I abide under the shadow of His wings; no weapon formed against me will prosper; He will never, ever, ever leave me nor forsake me; and I am fully forgiven because of what Christ did not what Darlene did, Thank God!!

Like I said I am not the first in a long list of people that this has happened to. Many on the long list I have met or reconnected with over the last year; yet I know there are many more out there I have never met. The personal stories over this last year have broken my heart to hear. A few of them I was a part of because I had believed the lies I was told about them and either never had an opportunity to see the person again or I chose not to contact the person and had to go seeking forgiveness for believing the lies and acting in those beliefs. Restoration has been the theme this year in so many areas. I will not be naming any of you in this post. I understand the desire for anonymity in these circumstances, it has not been easy. Though, if you see this and want, feel free to tag yourself and add your signature to mine to make the bold statement, “WE WILL NO LONGER BE SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET”.
img_0697Besides, the pile of names is getting too big to be able to be covered up anymore and healing can only come when the bandage is taken off and the wound cleaned out thoroughly and completely; so that healing can happen from the inside out.

Oh and one last thing an update a year later: I and my husband are still walking with God; my boys have grown a deeper relationship with God then ever before and have grown deeper in true friendships; I am not Jezebel; I, my family or my friends did not cause a split in the church-people ALWAYS will have their own choices unless they give that freedom away; nor are any of us like fallen angels or sons of Korah; we never wanted to control anyone-we just wanted to walk freely with God and be who He called us to be and fully believed others could, would and should be able to do the same; we never forced anyone to listen to us or ask questions; we desired for biblical restoration but were never allowed the opportunity to do so.

As we walk into 2016, I am excited for even more revelation from my Father in Heaven…❤️ Darlene, Bryan, Taylor and Caameron Gaston

There has been such an overwhelming response to this post I would like to add something from a trusted Christ following counselor, Judy Friederich. Below, I have pasted what she wrote on my personal Facebook post regarding this and it is spot on. Early on my friends and I had gotten a hold of a book Toxic Faith and it helped us to heal. What Judy wrote was very similar to the book. Please take a look below. Also she said if anyone needs to ask further questions they can private message her on Facebook. With no further ado her post:

This discussion brings out the fire in my gut to help the Church become abuse-proof. In order to counter the enemy’s plan to blame God for the behavior of those who are abusive “in His name,” we need to be diligent to know and spread the truth about church-based manipulation and abuse. I am going to list some characteristics of controlling, narcissistic personalities as they can manifest in a church setting. Please comment and add other behaviors that you have seen so we can all have good radar to spot this behavior and not take part in it. Controllers are paranoid – they assume the worst about someone’s words or actions and assign evil motives to anyone who questions or disagrees with them. They are also defensive, recruiting others to back them up in their stance and to go on the offensive for them. They are protective, but the protection is about their own reputation, appearance, or the kingdom they have established for themselves, not about true righteousness. They must monitor everything that goes into or comes out of the church and paint themselves as the victims of other’s manipulation when they are the true manipulators. They may establish that they are superior to other churches, programs, or revelation and aim to recruit people of positive reputation to back them up. They are very charismatic and able to convince a person that you are just who they need to advance their plans using “you are the best thing that ever happened to me” types of flattery. Until you challenge them, then “you are the worst thing that ever happened to me.” This type of “I love you/I hate you” treatment tears down self-worth and creates confusion and weakness in their victims. You become dependent on what they think of you rather than what God thinks of you. They further promote these ideas by trying to isolate their minions so no one is able to challenge their authority. They promote the idea that they intend to rescue you out of the deception you have been under from inferior teaching. There becomes an “us and them” mentality and a violent resistance to correction or change, but others must change to meet their ideals and become like them. There often is great effort put into teaching and recruiting others so there is strength in numbers of those who follow them, strong peer pressure to follow their dictates, and multitudes of admirers to build up their egos. Slander and shunning are employed if there is any perceived straying from their control as this is seen as a threat to their existence. They will recruit witnesses to prove their side and to testify that they did everything they could to reconcile in a godly way. They will trap you into saying what you do not mean or twist your words, then turn around and lie about their manipulation of the situation. They call good evil and evil good (i.e. gossip – they are free to tell everyone how they are wronged by you and others and to defame your character, but you reporting how you have been wronged by them through Biblical channels is forbidden.) Focus is on punishment of what they perceive as a crime and not on loving discipline and reconciliation. They may go through the motions of reconciliation, but it ends up being an exercise in proving how wrong you are. If you disagree with them, you are rebellious and need to repent and be convinced of the errors of your ways. Apologies from them are only an attempt to appear righteous, but they cannot truly apologize because they are never wrong. They are invested so much in their behavior that their mindset is twisted into anything that will promote themselves as supreme. They refuse to think logically because that would destroy their primary beliefs to the point that they could feel as though they are dying. In order to change, they have to see a reason or need to change, and because of their belief in their superiority, they will never acknowledge that need. They will give you just enough hope that they will change to hold on to you, but it is all part of the manipulative process. How do you respond if you recognize yourself in these situations? Too many people, out of love and pure hearts, try to stay and change things. I have never seen this work. I must admit that all things are possible with God, but when Pharaoh’s heart did not change, God released Moses to leave. There are many other Biblical precedents that support a choice to flee unrighteousness. Find free, godly people to support you. Do not blame God; He has nothing to do with the behavior of these people. Heal. And become a person who brings freedom from abusive bondage to the Church so the Body can focus on Kingdom come and not dealing with fear and pain. Bless and be blessed!