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. ❤

Resting in the Armor of God

How many times have you been taught about the armor of God?  I can say I have sat through many teachings and preaching regarding the armor of God.  Most times the teaching was about how I needed to put on the armor, keep on the armor, how not to take off the armor.  I don’t know about you but for me God wanted to reassure me that it wasn’t so much about me and my behavior but about Him and standing in what He has already done for me.

I have been waiting awhile to write about this.  I have been so excited to write about this topic.  Here is why: the Lord had asked me, “Darlene, do you know how well Bryan (my husband is a police officer) knows how to use his weapons?”  I answered, “Yes.” Then He asked,  “Do you understand how to use My weapons?”  I answered, “I don’t know.”  “It is time for you to understand,” He replied.

Let’s look at the scripture in Ephesians:

“Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength! Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary. For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing. Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom. Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of deliverance; along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God; as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people.” ‭‭Ephesians (Eph)‬ ‭6:10-14, 16-18‬ ‭CJB

You may want to read It All Begins and Ends With TrustWalk Confidently-It All Begins and Ends With Trust (Faith) (Part 2), and A New Wine Skin if you haven’t already.  These set up where I am going next.  Like I said in It All Begins and Ends With Trust:

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.

One of the things I have been telling myself and others lately is God never promised that we would not have “evil days”.  What is interesting is Paul also told us that our struggle is not against human beings.  Now we have to look at context here.  This is during some evil days.  Christ followers are being fed to lions, crucified, boiled in tar….by other HUMANS.  What, the what!?!?!!!  If Christ followers were being told by Paul to specifically do something when all of this was happening to them, we might want to take note.  I have to say I have not been fed to lions, crucified or boiled….but some tactics felt like that in my life….just not unto death in this lifetime.  So….let’s pick apart this very strong statement Paul makes through the Holy Spirit.

First Paul reminds us of the very thing in which I believe the entire armor truly consists of in his opening statement in Ephesians 6:10:

“grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength!”

Here is the direct translation from Biblehub.com:

“be empowered (1743-I fill with power, strengthen, make strong)

in [the] Lord and in the strength (2904 dominion, strength, power; a mighty deed)

of the might (2479-strength(absolutely),power,might,force,ability*) of him.”

Note that there are two different strength meanings in this verse.  What I want you to see is how God does this for us.  We do not do this for ourselves.  We simply TRUST (believe) He will do it for us or already has done it for us and we thank Him for doing it.  I want to clarify here, my strength comes from the Lord alone.  I do not have enough strength of my own to be able to stand in circumstances that are beyond me. Truly I don’t know how people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus do life.  I love the direct translation from bible hub.com because it helps us to start at the right starting point-trusting (faith) Him to do for us what we can not.

Next Paul calls what he talks about next our “war equipment that God PROVIDES” and that we are to put it on or use it so that we can stand (2476-I cause to stand) against the schemes (3180-a way of search after something, an inquiry; a method), scheming, craftiness, deceit.).  Again I want you to see in the Greek that HE will enable us to stand against the methodology of the evil one or “rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm”.  Father causes us to be able to stand!

Now into the nitty-gritty.  I believe Paul is showing us the way to stand during trials and tribulations.  Yes they come to the believer and the non-believer.  As believers we do not get a pass on these trials and tribulations: but what we do get is Someone, the Great I Am that walks it with us, enables us to stand, helps us to see a greater picture and to have good come out of it (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, Romans 8:28).

Truth-But not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea;reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness: true to fact. Literal: what can’t be hidden.=Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Righteousness-divine righteousness. =Jesus gave us our divine righteousness our righteousness is like filthy rags (1 Corinthians 1:30,Isaiah 64:6)  Romans 10:10 helps describe why righteousness is a breastplate; because, “For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness.”

Peace-Good News of Shalom-wholeness.  Jesus came so that we would have “firm footing, foundation, preparation, readiness” in that He came to give us wholeness (shalom, peace).  This is a foundational truth of what He did for us in His death and resurrection and what He desires for us to share with others. (Luke 1:79)

Trust-belief, come to trust, confidence, be persuaded, core meaning of faith=DIVINE PERSUASION- Jesus came, died and was resurrected and our part is to believe in who He said He is. This is why we are to always carry this “shield”. It all starts in the faith of Who Jesus is. For we have been delivered by grace through trusting and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. (Ephesians 2:8). This shield (4570) thwarts, extinguishes, and I suppress.  As we trust the true battle is won. Like I said above the enemy wants to steal, kill or destroy your trust.

Salvation-saving, bring salvation. This word is derived from the word soter which means Savior who of course is Jesus– Again Romans 10:10 helps us understand why salvation is a helmet, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance (salvation).

Sword (3162 properly, a slaughter knife; a short sword or dagger mainly used for stabbing; figuratively- an instrument for exacting retribution) given by the Spirit which is the word (rhema) of God.  In Matthew both the sword and word (rhema) are used for the first time in the New Testament.  Let’s look at both: in Matthew 10:34 Jesus says He came to bring a sword and in Matthew 4:4 Jesus says we are not to live by bread alone but every rhema (word) coming out of the mouth of God.  Also in Revelation Jesus is shown to have a sword coming from his mouth (Revelation 1:16).  Rhema word is very different from the Logos word.  Rhema (4487) means  (from 4483 /rhéō, “to speak”) – a spoken word, made “by the living voice” (J. Thayer). 4487 /rhḗma (“spoken-word”) is commonly used in the NT (and in LXX) for the Lord speaking His dynamic, living word in a believer to inbirth faith (“His inwrought persuasion”). Because we are here to continue Jesus’ ministry (see A New Wine Skin for more info) we are to speak what the Spirit tells us to. Remember when Paul encouraged us that we would know what to say when we need to say it (Matthew 10:19).  We are to bring the necessary words in the time of need through being connected to the vine Who is Jesus.  This is how we know what to pray…by His Spirit in us.

So how in the world do we do this?  I have been taught I need to prayerfully put on each piece and make sure none of my armor slips off. If it slips off I need to say sorry and pray to put it back on. I have finally truly repented from this way of thinking and see it God’s way.  I believe the Lord has shown me exactly how we are clothed in the armor and are able to fully use the weaponry God has given us.  Please note God gave this all to us through His Son.  His Son made the way for all of the above.  All we need to do is believe in Who Jesus is.  We find a great secret in Isaiah 56 and Hebrews 4. Let’s take a look:

Isaiah 56:1-2 (CJB)

“Observe justice, do what is right,
for my salvation is close to coming,
my righteousness to being revealed.”
Happy is the person who does this,
anyone who grasps it firmly,
who keeps Shabbat and does not profane it,
and keeps himself from doing any evil.

  • (7676 Shabbat or Sabbath means rest for the heart. 2490 Profane means to  take it for granted. And remember this is under the law.)

Hebrews 4:1-3 (MSG)

“For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith.

‭‭How are we disqualified? By not having faith or trust in Who Jesus is–the Son of God! Once again faith (4102) is a gift from God never generated by us.  Again this all begins and ends with faith.  Faith as small as a mustard seed that each of us is given by a loving Father in heaven.

So, we have a choice, yes that is a free will choice that God also gave us, to enter His rest as we choose to believe the Good News of Who He is and choose to trust He has truly done it all for us.  This is why we can approach the throne boldly with our IMG_1459requests, our prayers; we can stand in the evil day and when God has completed or literally, “worked down to the end-point,” i.e. to an exact, definite conclusion (2716 katergazomai)— we are still standing, because of what Jesus did for us.  We trust that Jesus is Who He says He is and that the promises are ours…we rest in ALL that Jesus accomplished at the Cross in His death and in His resurrection.

That is literally what the armor is….resting in ALL THAT CHRIST DID FOR YOU.  Otherwise known as standing in Christ the vine.

And we pray in the Spirit. The Greek word “en” is contained within this sentence, “in the Spirit”.  Realize again this word means:

  • properly, in (inside, within); (figuratively) “in the realm (sphere) of,” as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (within).

The Holy Spirit dwells within us and time after time the prayers that have been “in the Spirit” always align with God’s will.  This truly is a whole other topic that will take another post.  Realize though or prayerfully ask Father what His will is in situations…not what you expect but what is His will.  His love is multi-dimensional and doesn’t always look the way you think it has to. Ask Him and rest in Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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’s Party Like It’s the Year of Jubilee

Because it truly is….

There have been so many times while sitting in the audience at church I was being taught that the favor I want/need from God will occur only if I am completely obedient, say sorry for every sin known and unknown, do everything right, pray enough, act right enough and don’t listen/watch certain music/movies. People have taught that God’s favor was dependent upon my behavior. This mixing of law and grace teaching (the old covenant with the new covenant) in most churches have bred Christians to doubt what Christ has done on the Cross and what He had done was enough. I was one of those Christians, but not anymore.

When I believed the mixture of old and new covenant, it was easy to believe that if I didn’t hold up my parts of the bargain then I would be cursed and if I did my part God would be required to move in my “favor.”  Now if He didn’t move in my “favor” obviously there was a hidden sin either on my part or maybe “generationally” that I had to ask forgiveness for. I would spend hours upon hours asking and pleading with God to show me why He hadn’t moved in my “favor” and the enemy sat back and laughed. Why did he laugh??? Because I had discounted what Christ did for me on the Cross and I was believing a lie. This lie kept me bound, gagged and unable to move forward in the freedom Christ so lovingly paid for me.

image
Jubilee
God intervened and started me on a route to discovering the true meanings of words. This led me to true repentance by seeing God the way He truly I. God was, is and will always be good. Jesus made a very bold statement in the beginning of His “ministry.”  Well actually he read out of the Book of Isaiah one Sabbath.  He read this:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD” Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Jesus stopped there and did not read any further about vengeance. Jesu stopped right after He proclaimed the FAVORABLE year of the Lord. Yes let’s just repeat that—FAVORABLE. Because of what Christ did on the Cross, all we have to do is believe in Him, He created a supernatural exchange. We supernaturally enter into the favorable year of the Lord, not by anything we did or didn’t do; but because of everything Jesus did for us on the Cross. By creating the New Covenant for us.

Instead of believing that my actions will give me favor with God (Old Covenant-Law), I now believe that Jesus’action on the Cross gives me free flowing access to favor, grace, mercy, blessings and love. All my needs are met and all of the benefits befitting a son or daughter of the Most High God are freely given to me.

Let’s look a little closer at this word in the original Greek (here is the link if you want to dive in further Dektos):

1184 dektós (an adjective derived from 1209/dexomai) – properly, what is received favorably (acceptable), describing what is welcomed because pleasing.

NAS Exhaustive Concordance
Word Origin
from dechomai
Definition
acceptable
NASB Translation
acceptable (2), favorable (1), welcome (2).

δεκτός, δεκτή, δεκτόν (δέχομαι), accepted, acceptable: Luke 4:24; Philippians 4:18; τίνι, Acts 10:35; the phrases καιρός δεκτός, 2 Corinthians 6:2 (Isaiah 59:8 for רָצון עֵת), and ἐνιαυτός δεκτός, Luke 4:19 (Isaiah 61:2 for רָצון שְׁנַת), denote that most blessed time when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound. (Exodus 28:34; Isaiah 56:7 (etc.). Among secular authors used by Jamblichus, protr. symb. § 20, p. 350.)

I really want you to understand when Jesus died for all the sins, for all the world, for all time this supernaturally created the favorable/ acceptable year of the Lord. You are fully welcomed in, accepted and received favorably because it is PLEASING to God. It is that simple you please Him. Not by your actions or non-actions but because He created you. All we have to do is receive in the New Covenant because Christ did it all for us. I also want you to understand there is nothing you can do once you have chosen His free gift that will change this placement He has freely given you (unless you throw His free gift back at Him). Amazing God!

The other little tidbit I found interesting in the use of favor in the New Testament, ie: “Favor with God, finding favor with God”, is it comes from the Greek word charis. The first time the word was used is in Luke 1:30; where Mary was told that she had found favor (charis) with God. The last time it was used in this same manner was in i1 Peter 2:19-20 where Peter is talking about unjust things happening to you. Let’s look closer at the flow in Greek with 1 Peter 2:20 (here is a link if you would like to view it for yourself  1 Peter 2:20 Interlinear) :

image

The part “charis para Theo,” literally means: “Grace\blessings brought to man through Jesus Christ is very close/beside or in the presence of God.”  There is a very important word just before this statement it is the word “touto.”  This Greek word is a demonstrative pronoun. Demonstrating the ability to suffer; because the closeness of the presence of God that was brought through Jesus to us, is the only way we could possibly suffer wrongdoing even when we have done the right thing. His favor is abounding to us. Para is part of the Holy Spirits name in Greek-Parakletos. The closeness of God- Holy Spirit- our Helper living inside of us gives us our strength to stand. Anyone can suffer wrongdoing done to them when they have done wrong but it takes the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in is to suffer wrongdoing when we have done right. (1Peter 2:19-20)

I know, I can hear the question rumbling in your mind…what about when I don’t see God’s favor for me??? What about when such and such happens in my life. I am so glad you asked that question!! God’s favor is always abounding towards you. ALWAYS. Even when it doesn’t look like it is.  Remember one of the favorite things He likes to remind me of is that His ways and thoughts are way above mine. So…I trust Him and what He has already done for me (if you want more of an explanation read this This is How Much He Loves You) and I live, move and grow in Him—no longer bound by what I have or haven’t done—-free in Him, full of favor that is always bounding toward me despite the circumstances. I no longer allow people to try and make me believe that God is against me because I haven’t crossed every “t”and dotted every “i”. Because of what His Son did on the Cross He crossed every “t” and dotted every “i”for me because He knew I could never, ever live up to His perfect standards only He could.

I am so grateful to live now in the Favorable year of the Lord…fully qualified by my faith (belief) in the Son of God-Jesus the Christ of Nazareth.

A few months back the Holy Spirit said this to me…

I had to chew on it for awhile because I had been taught differently and it felt like heresy…..but it is true because God is……well God and I am a frail human. True perspective or the right perspective from the onset leads to the ability to see God for Who He truly is…a loving Father, full of mercy and abounding in grace. I can not be thankful enough. Thank you Abba for Your mercies are new everyday.  

This Is the Year Of…

REALIGNMENT= “change or restore to a different or former position or state.” The Body of Christ is realigning or coming full circle to the original purpose or state that Christ called us to. I see the Body coming back to its original purpose and understanding of just who they are in Christ. We will understand who we are; which will then have the world wide impact that God has called at this a time. Not because we did it, but because He called it for such a time as this. This is not out of striving but coming from a place of rest in Him. Those that truly understand resting in Him will set the fire and it will spread like a wild fire. Watch…it is happening already….


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!