From the Pulpit to Repentance
Several have asked me to share my journey from the pulpit to repentance. Ten years ago, my husband and I were Charismatic ministers. We served together as Associate Pastors of a church in Texas. I was on the preaching schedule with the men, monthly. Yes, I got the accolades and approval of the church, and the association we were involved with until…. The grace of God reached down and pulled my husband and me both back to the Word of God and out of the fire.
Here is a snapshot of the journey, our journey. It is hard to share. In fact, I have shared our story with select few. Sure, this will bring fiery darts my way, but I really couldn’t care less. I trust that this will help open the eyes of those seeking Truth.
I met my husband in an evangelical church, he was a youth pastor at the time. Both of us were from very Biblically based churches. My husband was the son of a Baptist minister. As a student at Biola College, I remember the warning given to the students by my professor, Dr. Curtis Mitchell, against tongues and the unbiblical Charismatic movement. Truth is, I was curious as most college age young people. I found myself wondering if Dr. Mitchell knew what he was talking about.
I met my husband my sophomore year of Biola. He had a full time job and was a youth pastor. He had a ministry to teens and the kids loved him. He was everything that I prayed and asked God for. We were married one year after we met. I wish I could say we lived happily ever after. When you are on God’s team, attacks come, and they are very real. As a young couple, we found ourselves in two churches, both with serious issues.
After one year of marriage, he was offered a position as a youth pastor at the beach, one block from the ocean. It was an awesome church where we were both very happy. The youth group was growing, kids’ lives were being changed, and parents were grateful. All was well until . . . the senior pastor asked a friend of his to become the Associate Pastor. The new staff member immediately began to breed distrust between the staff. He had an agenda, to bring a copy of the Satan bible into the youth group and have the kids read it. We found ourselves in a spiritual battle that we had never anticipated. We did not want to cause a church split so my husband resigned. (We found out later that this man had a history of going from church to church and causing splits!)
Another local Baptist church contacted my husband. His youth pastor was being transferred by his full-time job, and Phil was asked to step in.
Things were going well at the new church. The youth group was thriving. Nine months in to the job, the senior pastor was asked to resign, the music director’s wife divorced him, and then the music director committed suicide. Upset, discouraged, angry at God were only some of my emotions. I wanted to quit the ministry. We both were so discouraged. It was at that point that Phil decided that he was through with the ministry. We were done!
The last two churches had taken their toll on us. We hardly read the Bible, only attended church. Our marriage was having issues and another baby was on the way. We were trying to keep ourselves together, no one knew the depth of our pain and discouragement. Looking back, I can see clearly that what happened to us was a direct attack from the enemy.
In the midst of the pain, I knew that the God was the answer. Not wanting anything more to do with the traditional church, I gravitated towards the popular charismatic movement. Some of my family had gone that direction, they seemed happy – so I thought maybe that’s what we needed.
Looking back. I now see now that it was all a trap. The discouragement with the church, the hurt, thinking that God let us down . . . we were slowly being destroyed. I got into the Charismatic movement first. I started by going to meetings, listening to TBN, talking to my family. Phil tried to warn me but being hard headed, stubborn and thinking I knew more than he did (he wasn’t reading his Bible so what could he say to me????) I took the bait and had my first experience. I say “experience” because everything seemed to be an experience from that point on. To be truthful, I did feel happier, read my Bible, (substituted the KJV with the Amplified version), and was nicer to live with. He decided that because I had made some positive changes that maybe I was on to something. He jumped in with me and we started attending a Charismatic fellowship. Please note as I write from this point on, the progression . . .
Discouragement, mad at God, feeling empty, Charismatic appeals, we take the bait.
At no time did we consult God’s Word on any of the teaching we were hearing. The Bible was used in the sermons with enough truth that we bought into the lie.
We moved our family to Tulsa. Phil enrolled in Rhema but half way through the first year, he left school. We look back and see the grace of God even in that situation. In the meantime, we had become friends with another couple and she and I were convinced we were supposed to be ministers. Women ministers were all the rage, and all were serving with their husbands, so why not us? We all continued in the Word of Faith churches in Tulsa, voraciously reading every book, attending meetings. At one point, we all decided to be ordained. After applying and being interviewed, we were ordained along with many other couples.
We found a church that was growing and we got involved. We thought we could use our “ministry gifts” there. We did become leaders in the church. I led a woman’s group and together we did a weekly care group in our home. We were being destroyed emotionally as the church was spiritually abusive. It was taking its toll on everyone, including our kids. We both began to see how the Word of God was being twisted from the pulpit to say things that were not there and there was no demonstration of the love of God.
One morning, while having my quiet time, I read an article about spiritually abusive churches and the signs of a toxic, abusive environment. Everything I read we were experiencing. It was clear that we had to leave.
I went to my husband with tears streaming down my face and shared what I believed God was saying. I trusted him to make a family decision. It was the next Sunday that the pastor stood up and said to the congregation, “If you are called to this church, you are called to me.” Walking out, my husband looked at me and said, “We are done.” We quit the fellowship with a resignation letter and never looked back.
A job change was in the air. We both got jobs in Dallas, TX. We left Oklahoma and never looked back. Our daughter moved to Seattle and within a few years, our son did the same. We were all out of Oklahoma!
After a couple of years, we decided to go back to church but did not know where to go. Someone had invited us to attend a little Charismatic start up church and we went. We fell in love with the Filipino pastor and his dear wife. We started going and helping them. The pastor invited us to be on staff and he submitted papers for our ministerial license. (We had rescinded our other ministry certificates years earlier). We became co-associate pastors. We loved the people and we both preached one Sunday a month. Phil and I had begun our personal studies at home, using the KJV Bible. We studied the Emergent Church and saw how it was infiltrating the organization. We read John MacArthur’s book, Charismatic Chaos, and scales began to fall from our eyes. Everything that John MacArthur wrote in his book was 100% accurate. We had experienced it first hand and had lived it.
When I saw that I had not held to the faith that was once delivered to the saints, tears of repentance gushed. I cried for weeks. I had wronged the Lord. I had been duped, taken the bait of Satan, and strayed way off the track. Phil had his own similar moment with the Lord. The beautiful part of this testimony is that each of us came to the same place at the same time using the same Bible. God, in his grace, had snatched us out of the fire. We now had a decision to make. We then drafted a letter of resignation to the organization and walked away.
We were done. We had each other, we had God’s Word. We had already walked away from Word of Faith in Tulsa, and now we walked away from everything Charismatic. The circle was complete. We went into Babylon but God brought us out. We found a Biblical church where women are in their place. I have never looked back.
If you are reading this, I plead with you to think Bible, read your Bible, stop listening to Charismatic/Word of faith/Emergent church and women preachers. We tossed books, tapes, cd’s, Bibles. Our library was quite large. Yes, we tossed our huge library in the trash.
Today we stand on God’s Word. I don’t need to preach to be fulfilled. God has given me a national platform in a dental organization. I influence women all over the country and as God gives opportunity, I share his grace. I found my place in Christ, in my marriage, and in my church. I am 100% fulfilled being the person God has called me to be.
Today I stand heart- broken as I look across Christianity and see the deception. With tears, I am humbled and grateful for God’s grace, His forgiveness, His love, and the Truth of His Word.
We have come full circle – back to the Bible and the roots we were raised with. I pray that you too will find the Truth. Seek and Ye shall find. Here is a clue . . . Truth is in God’s Word!
Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!