suffice it to say….

I am going back to my old blogger account. Maybe I will be able to do an extreme blog makeover soon.  I just like Blogger better.  😉 http://jennyhope-jennyhope.blogspot.com/

another good one from gotquestions.org

How do we distinguish a psychological disorder from demon possession?


 psychological disorder demon possession
Question: “How do we distinguish a psychological disorder from demon possession?”

Answer: The short answer to this question is that the Bible does not speak to distinguishing between demon possession and a psychological disorder. Because God chose not to equip Christians for this task, we should probably assume this is not something we are called to do. However, there are two things we know for sure from Scripture.

First, we know from the Bible that demons can and do possess those who do not belong to Christ, and Scripture gives some examples of people being possessed by demons. From these descriptions, we can find some symptoms of demonic influence as well as gain insights as to how a demon possesses someone. In some of these passages, the demon possession causes physical ailments (inability to speak, epileptic symptoms, blindness, etc. [Matthew 9:32-33, Mark 9:17-18]); in other cases the demon causes the individual to do evil (Judas is the main example); in Acts 16:16-18, the spirit apparently gave a slave girl some ability to know things beyond her own learning (a spirit of divination); in the case of the demoniac of the Gadarenes who was possessed by a multitude of demons, he had superhuman strength, cut himself, went around naked, and lived among the tombstones (Mark 5:1-17). King Saul, after rebelling against the LORD, was troubled by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14-15; 18:10-11; 19:9-10) with the apparent effect of a melancholy mood and an increased desire and readiness to kill David (God’s next anointed king of Israel).

Second, we should be greatly encouraged to know that it is impossible for a Christian to be possessed by a demon. The believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God who comes to reside in our hearts when we give our lives to Christ (2 Corinthians 1:22). The description of a possessing demon as “evil” means “unclean” in the Greek (Mark 5:2), therefore making it impossible for the Holy Spirit to share His dwelling place with such a creature. For those who do not have the Holy Spirit, however, no amount of “cleaning up their lives” will prevent a demon from possessing or influencing them. The parable Jesus told in Matthew 12:43 makes this clear:

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Jesus is teaching here that we are incapable of sweeping and putting “in order” our own hearts because our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV). Only God can regenerate us and create in us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and make us new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

However, while Christians cannot be possessed by a demon, this is not to be confused with being influenced by one. The apostle Peter is an illustration of a believer who was influenced by the devil (Matthew 16:23). This can occur especially when we are not mature in the faith and not sufficiently involved in the spiritual disciplines of regular study of Scripture and prayer.

Lastly, a word to the wise: some people develop an unhealthy fascination with the occult and demonic activity. This is ill advised to say the least. If we pursue God with our lives and we are clothing ourselves with His armor and relying upon His strength (not our own) (Ephesians 6:10-18), we have nothing to fear from the evil ones, for God rules over all! When we are in Christ, and He in us, we have nothing to fear from the evil one because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Recommended Resource: The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare (Revised & Updated) by Ed Murphy.

I was talking with someone tonight about this subject.  I hold to the belief that since we are sealed to the day of redemption that we can not be “possessed” by a demon and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in our mortal flesh.  Ephesians 4:30 says: 

30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

And here: 

2 Corinthians 1:21-23 

21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

And Ephesians 1:13:  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

I know that a believer can go through great sickness, suffer depression, and a whole host of things but I believe that if you are in Christ you may be oppressed but not possessed. 

I am super tired so I just cut and paste this article from www.GotQuestions.org .  I really love their site!

 Question: “Can a Christian be demon possessed?”

Answer: The Bible does not explicitly state whether a Christian can be possessed by a demon. However, since a Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19), it would seem unlikely that the Holy Spirit would allow a demon to possess the same person He is indwelling. This is sometimes a controversial issue; however, we strongly hold to the belief that a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon. We believe there is a distinct difference between being possessed by a demon and being oppressed or influenced by a demon. Demon possession involves a demon having direct control over the thoughts and/or actions of a person (Luke 4:33-35; 8:27-33; Matthew 17:14-18). Demon oppression or influence involves a demon or demons attacking a person spiritually and/or encouraging him/her into sinful behavior (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7). Notice that in all the New Testament passages dealing with spiritual warfare, we are never told to cast a demon out of a believer (Ephesians 6:10-18). Believers are told to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7), not to cast him out.

It is unthinkable that God would allow one of His children, whom He purchased with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) and made into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), to be possessed and controlled by a demon. Yes, as believers, we wage war with Satan and his demons, but not from within ourselves. The apostle John declares, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Who is the One in us? The Holy Spirit. Who is the one in the world? Satan and his demons. Therefore, the believer has overcome the world of demons, and the case for demon possession of a believer cannot be made scripturally.

Recommended Resource: Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason.

can anyone enlighten me on how to get that stinking flicker thing off  of my sidebar?

I had mentioned a while back that I really wanted to share something that I learned about the Jewishness of Christ.  I am telling you what, I have absolutely been blown away by some of my faulty Western thinking.  Let me give you an example.  A long time ago I pondered and pondered what in the world made 12 men, of all walks of life, just pick up and follow Christ. Was there some mysterious glow about Him?  Did they know off the bat that He was the Christ?   Then, I read about the culture then and how Jesus was indeed a Jewish Rabbi.  Rabbi’s literally had disciples or maybe a better word would be apprentices.  They would literally follow the Rabbi (teacher) and go where he went, do what he did, and soak in what he said.  Here is a quote that I loved from Yose ben Yoezer from the second century B.C. : “Let your house be a meeting place for the rabbis, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily.”

*Edited to add:  The covering yourself in the dust of the Rabbis feet was a saying regarding how much the Rabbis would walk and teach along the dusty roads.  I just loved that.  As He led, they followed and literally covered themselves in the dust of the Rabboni’s feet! 

So of course He would have come to His chosen people and been Jewish like they were.  I am no scholar but I love that it wasn’t some weird freakish thing for him to have the disciples.  He was the fullness of the Godhead bodily but He was also a Jewish man.  You did not become a Rabbi until the age of thirty so it just excites me to know that as tradition went Jesus would start His earthly ministry at the age of thirty!  I am just wild about Him! 

Dig this.  Forgiveness.  A BIG DEAL.  A huge undertaking when we have been wronged.  Also, sometimes we really struggle with forgiving our own self.  Yet some of us have been wronged BIG TIME.  I am about to burst with excitement as I type this.  I pray I don’t bang the keys off of my keyboard.  Get this scene with me.  Peter comes and poses a question that I think we have all asked before, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (I have included the verses at the bottom)  How many sermons have you heard on this reply that are incorrect?  Western thinking looks at that verse without digging any deeper and reasons that we need to forgive 70 times 7.  Then, we reason oh 490 times!  That is not what Jesus is saying and all of the disciples would have known exactly what Jesus was saying by what He didn’t say.  Seven is symbolic of completeness in the Word.  So, Jesus is referring to the following in Genesis 4:23-24:

 23 Lamech said to his wives,
       “Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
       wives of Lamech, hear my words.
       I have killed a man for wounding me,
       a young man for injuring me.

 24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
       then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

Lamech was a descendent of Cain.  Cain was murderous and evil and killed his brother Abel.  So, Lamech in these verses is wanting what is beyond complete vengeance.  Jesus blew Peter’s question out of the water by saying, without saying, to the extent that Lamech wanted what was beyond complete vengeance is the extent to which I want you to forgive.  A forgiveness that is absolutely other.  Absolutely radical and only possible through the Holy Spirit.  No small task but this was Jesus’ answer and obviously it is not beyond the power of the Holy Spirit which resides in each believer.  With the LORD is forgiveness.  We are not capable of true forgiveness apart from Him.  Psalm 130 my anthem  3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
       O Lord, who could stand?

 4 But with you there is forgiveness;
       therefore you are feared.

Forgiveness sets US free.  It releases us from being in bondage to our bitterness and unforgiveness.  Let me give you a quick application that may help you.  It will require work but it is worth it.  Whenever I have really struggled with forgiving someone I have taken out some scriptures of blessing and etc and inserted the person’s name in the verses and prayed for them.  I would start out and say, “God, I no more want _______ to be the apple of your eye but I just pray that you would bless ____ and guard them as the apple of your eye.”  I would go on with scriptures praying this way until God changed my heart toward that person.  I am telling you it works!  Gods word works.  It is not a formula but the only thing I know to tell you.  I would end up really wanting Gods mercy and blessing to fall on that person.  Often times the person that has hurt me the most has been the one that I have allowed closest access to my heart.  It is also humbling to think of how much I have been forgiven.  This life is hard but we need to take it day by day and fight this good fight until He calls us home.  Unforgiveness will cause bitterness and spread like gangrene it will hurt us and cause the waters around us to become bitter.  It will literally eat us alive.  Another way that helps me is I journal and just tell God all that is on my heart right or wrong.  That is just part of casting my burdens on Him.  He cares for you and me.  Any thoughts?

Matthew 18:22-35

 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

 21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 23“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

 26“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 28“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

 29“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

 30“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

 32“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

 35“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

just checking in

So I need the following verse to be literal for me right now.  

Psalm 32:6 (New International Version)

psalm 32: 6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
       while you may be found;
       surely when the mighty waters rise,
       they will not reach him.  

 I have been in over my head lately and here is what we get to clean up today.  Hoping to see how all things work for the good in this situation.  😉 


Out of Touch

Matthew 5:13 (New International Version)

Salt and Light

 13“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  

So, yesterday morning I dropped Morgan off at school and began to try to work with my gps to get to the destination I needed to go to teach bible study.  This was my first time to teach there so I was not sure what to expect.  I get really nervous before teaching whether it is 100 people or just 2.  I always have that nausea’s feeling no matter what.  With the loss of our friend this past week I had almost forgotten about teaching.  My poor class on Sunday probably suffered through my teaching, bless their hearts.  So, my gps would not find the location AT ALL. I began to panic and as I was sitting in our church parking lot.  I got Rod on the phone and he kept telling me, “Jenny, you need to calm down! You just don’t know how to use the gps!”  I almost burst into tears imagining how lost I was going to be.  It occurred to me…what good is a gps if you don’t know how to use it?  I even yelled out, “you stupid GPS!!”  I am one of the most directionally challenged people you will ever meet.  Still, I ended up very lost! VERY LOST!  Then, to top it off, I had to parallel park of all things once I made it there.  Whew!  So many of us are the same in our walk with Christ and we wonder why we don’t have the victory when we are not even attempting to wield our sword of the Spirit.  We can’t just put our bible under our pillow at night and expect to get it by some sort of “biblical osmosis” so to speak.  We are going to have to crack our bibles, memorize scripture and use it in the unseen battle here on earth.   God has given the believer everything he/she needs for life and godliness yet we will not participate in the divine nature nor escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires without putting on the armor and allowing God to transform us or metamorphosis us from caterpillars into butterflies.  A caterpillar never makes it off of the ground, yet a butterfly is rich in color and glory as it flies freely.   

2 Peter 1:3-4  

 3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  

So how do we be in this world but not of it and still be in touch with peoples deep needs?  Well, Jesus is a perfect example in His holy writ.  You see replete examples of him healing others and the Pharisees becoming indignant that He would do such a thing on the Sabbath…yet these people were desperate for a Saviour.  Jesus met people where they were and they would be forever changed because of it.  When we encounter Jesus through His word and daily walking things out with Him, we can’t stay the same without being miserable in our complacency.  

So, yesterday I met Tiana for lunch at the mall.  She had to leave and Morgan and I went into Forever21.  I saw the cutest lace tank top that needed to go home with me, or so I thought.  Mind you I have worked in retail for years before I tell you this.  I asked one of the associates where the top was.  She looked and looked and then told me it was the last one on the mannequin. Well, of course I asked her if I could have it.  I kid you not she says, “We are not allowed to take the shirt off of the mannequin.”  This is not the first time I have heard this.  Seriously.  So, I cracked up thinking, OK this is a retail store that makes money by selling clothes, yet a customer wants to buy something and they are not allowed to take it off of the mannequin.  It is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.  Yet I can’t tell you the times working in retail that I have had to follow through on the craziest decisions from people in the corporate world, that did not work in a store, who were sitting at a desk (out of touch from people) making decisions. I would always crack up and say, “Ah ha corporate…someone sitting at a desk not actually in touch with people!”   Yet that is how we can get as believers.  So busy in the salt shaker, shaking around that we lose our saltiness.  We become out of touch with people.  People who are desperate for the salt to spill out on them…the meat of this cosmos, and preserve that meat as salt used to do in the 1st century.  

We have got to ask God to open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to be burdened for those around us and offer hope to the lost.  What good are we if we lose our saltiness.  Salt used to be mixed with gypsum and used as sort of a tar to put roofing on the tops of the houses back in biblical times.   People also spent a lot of time on their roof…trampling so to speak on top of that salt!  The enemy should be under our feet.  We should not allow him or this world or our flesh to get us to the point where we are the ones being tossed out, not useful.  People are hurting.  We are the means that God can so readily use to offer the message of hope, healing and full redemption.


Psalm 42: 10 My bones suffer mortal agony
       as my foes taunt me,
       saying to me all day long,
       “Where is your God?”

Isaiah 48:11

 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
       How can I let myself be defamed?
       I will not yield my glory to another.

I swapped blogs last week and I literally had a thousand hits yesterday on this blog regarding Todd.  So, if you have come back I wanted to talk about something that I think some people may be confused over.  The teacher in me has to write and part of that is how I express myself.  If you are a non believer in Jesus Christ some of you may have been thinking to yourself thoughts like: “Was Todd’s faith all a sham? Why didn’t God heal him?  Why did God let him take his life?  Was Todd’s God a sham?”  I would like to address a few of those questions as my mind has been inundated with memories and thoughts.

There will always be people who scoff the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The One True God.  Let me say after over a decade of very aggressively seeking God, He is more real to me than the air that I breathe.  He is more real to me than anything I can see, touch, taste, or smell.  He surpasses the senses.  I have come to know his faithfulness in the midst of great hardship in my own life.  Things like knowing Him as my husband (even when I have one). No human being can meet the deep longings of the soul that God can meet, these are not just words on a page to me…they are life and breath.  I have known Him as my Father when my own father abandoned us at the age of 4.  He is the Only One I look to as Abba.  I have known Him as the Only One who could bind up my broken heart when my first child, Shelby, went to be with Jesus.  He has been the Provider of my spiritual needs as well as physical needs.  I have also known Him through illness.  After I had Morgan I began to have panic attacks and if you have never had one, let me say you don’t ever want to.  It was three years of sheer terror for me.  After many trips to the doctor and several ambulance visits to my home, I was finally diagnosed with this because of my mitral valve prolapse.  Do not be quick to judge anyone who goes through this because you sure don’t ever want to be in their shoes.  I am not talking about some quick passing anxiety either.  It is horrifying like I am sure other things are as well.  God has used it all in my life to use the enemy to sift me like wheat.  That is not the reason for everyone but it is mine.  He knocked the judgment right out of me as I have battled this.  He has been faithful even as I have gone through this particular thing.  He has also not treated me as my sins deserve, He has been so more than merciful and I praise Him. 

So, was this Gods “perfect will” for Todd to take his life?  NO!  This was His permissive will.  Did Todd have license to take his own life? Heck no!  But was it sin?  YES!  I was reminded in my spirit a few days ago that the only “unpardonable sin” was to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10).  Todd did not reject the Holy Spirit in His life or scorn Him.  Hebrews 3:15 says the following: 15As has just been said:
   “Today, if you hear his voice,
      do not harden your hearts
   as you did in the rebellion.”

This is the repetitive rejection of God in Your life.  Rejecting salvation and rejecting God.  Scorning Him.  It is not His will for anyone to perish.  Yet many will harden their hearts against God because they are blinded by satan the prince of this world.

God knew before the foundations of the world that this would take place.  The fact is God is in control but He will never force our love or our obedience to Him.  He will not make us do anything.  Do I have answers to all of the “why’s?”, NO!  Yet as I mentioned in one of my previous posts the believer in Christ is never separated from the love of God.  God will still be glorified even in this and God will not yield His glory to another.  The enemy does not have the victory.  Just like God does not want us to commit s*xual sin, lie, steal, lust, cheat, and a whole other host of things, this was a sinful act and covered by the blood of Christ.  YET DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND…God, does not approve or give any of us license to take our own life as a means of healing.  Life is sacred and holy.  He is the giver of life.  Job33:4 The Spirit of God has made me;
       the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

He gives and He is the one to take away yet in Christ Todd is washed in the blood and standing in the presence of the Lord.  Just like the Israelites had a promised land, a perfect part of Gods perfect will for them, they fell short of entering Gods rest on this earth, yet He remained faithful to His covenant.  His covenant with His chosen people was not depending on anyone but Him.  The gospel is spelled out and points to Christ all the way through the Old Testament.  So Gods covenant was not contractual and is not contractual.  Our salvation is in Christ Alone and all of the power of hell can’t keep God’s love away. 

Why didn’t he get healed here on this earth?  Well, we never know.  The Apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he prayed would be removed yet it wasn’t and in his weakness God was made strong.  Still God is not perverted, the suffering we endure is part of living in a fallen state as you see in Genesis.  Satan has been wreaking havoc since his fall from heaven.  God can use medications and doctors to heal us yet as research shows some of that can harm.  We are not even going to discuss that here.

Will God be glorified in this, yes!  Yet this is not a way that God chose to get glory.  He is no more or less God based on our actions.  Can we bring reproach to His name because of our witness? YES.  Yet He will be no less God because of us.  He is the Eternal, Immortal One, that has never had a beginning and will never have an ending.  He goes on and on and on.  He is already in our tomorrow, today and our yesterday.  He never changes.  He never shifts.  He never ceases being God on the Throne.  Yet He came wrapped in tiny flesh and experienced life and pain and paid for all of our sins past, present, and future when He could have forsaken us.  He could have done away with us, yet He made a way for us through the cross.  This isn’t some legalistic baptist chick typing you a bunch of crap.  This is real.  He is our life and the length of our days.  Yet hear me again…if you are suffering please get help.  You and I should not see this as an example of “finding your healing from this life” but we should see that Todd suffered, he did commit sin in taking his life, yet I am certain from years of knowing him that his faith was real.  Christ was life, and he is in the presence of God.  Yet we grieve the loss of our friend.  I am glad I have the assurance of his salvation but it doesn’t take away our pain for now.  We were never meant for this fallen state, yet here we are.  Still we have hope. 

Lamentations 3:21-22

 21 Yet this I call to mind
       and therefore I have hope:

 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail

Let me also recommend a book that is very accurate about Heaven.   It is called “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn.  I don’t like any of the hokey books on heaven/hell if they are not based on scripture incase anyone wants to suggest one ;).

Todd’s Funeral

Here is what Tiana talked about at the funeral today for those of you who could not make it:
The Speech I (Tiana Gaston) Gave at Todds Funeral Today
 Today at 10:56pm
I am totally standing here today only because God is carrying me thru this. I can’t even get up and make announcements in front of some of our closest friends in our Sunday School class – Todd had to do it for me!!! But God has laid a lot on my heart that only I can share being the only one that experienced this illness with Todd.

Todd’s Sickness and Suffering
I do not have to tell anyone what a wonderful man my husband was. For those who knew him well, you got to see a different part of Todd than what I saw. You got to see the fun-loving, joking, funny guy. Full of life and compassion and love for everyone else. I got to see the tremendous suffering that he kept hid so well from the world. He suffered with depression and anxiety for 25 years and it got progressively worse over the years just like cancer or any other illness. Most of us have experienced one if not both of these illnesses but they have passed. For Todd he lived in a constant anxiety/panic attack every waking second of his day every day! To put it in his own words he was terrified of life itself.

Do Not Pity Me
I knew Todd suffered before we were married. He had never confided in anyone of his illness but confessed that that was why he had stayed single for so long. He had never found anyone that he felt would understand him. His confiding in me was a testament of his love for me. I made the choice to love him thru this no matter how bad it got and I am grateful that he did not have to suffer thru the worst time alone. I am honored that God would choose and appoint ME to walk this path with Todd.

My Dream
About 6 months into our marriage and after praying for Todd’s illness for over a year, I had a dream one night. I dreamt that I was standing in heaven and it was like I was a spectator. God was seated on His throne although I could not see his face. His robe flowed throughout the temple just like what is described in Isaiah 6. Todd was standing at the foot of the throne in front of God. The robe flowed and wrapped around Todd and pulled him into the breast of God just like a mother comforting a hurting child. I awoke that night with the biggest sense of peace that God was going to heal him someday. What I didn’t understand until this happened is what that dream TRULY meant for me.

Gods Faithfulness
The bible says his ways are not our ways. I always thought that someday God was going to perform a modern day miracle on Todd that he was just going to wake up one morning and be healed. I thought his healing would be here on earth. Tuesday night God enlightened me on that dream. 2 ½ years later!!!!! Wow… I can look back and see the work that God did in those 2 ½ years in Todd, in me, in our children. God NEVER forgets us and he is ALWAYS faithful and working even when we do not see it. It is comforting to me to look back at that dream and to know that Monday morning when Todd took his own life, he KNEW what I had not seen from that dream yet.

Do NOT Question His Salvation
I have heard lots of condolences and lots of comments that sadden me. Do not pray for Todds soul. Do not doubt where he is. Todd knew his healing would be at home in his Saviors arms. He put all of his Faith and Hope in Christ Alone.
2 Corinthians 5:4 -5 – For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by LIFE! He who had prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee

Do Not Feel Guilty
I have heard many say that they should’ve seen the signs, they should’ve been there more, etc etc. Do not feel guilty! Todd left me a sweet letter and instructed me not to play the “what if” game. Those were not just words for me but words I feel like I am meant to share. Even if he had talked to every one of you, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The Million $$$ Question
What Can I do for you???
• Give God the Glory!!!! Todd NEVER made this about HIM. I believe that’s one reason he kept it hid. He relied on Gods strength everyday and I would like to believe that the simple fact that no one ever noticed how bad he suffered is a perfect testimony to how much strength God can give someone
• Pray for each other – I had almost 5 years to deal with this and to at least know that there were problems and suffering for him. This is a shock to every one of you. Even though I will miss him horribly, I have a peace and an understanding with this and I believe with the foundation in Christ that we have given our children, they have that peace also.
• Unbelievers – For those of you who do not trust in God or have a relationship with God, look at this situation and see ALL that God is doing for those of us who believe in him. I am not Wonder Woman or Super Woman, I am simply a Godly Woman a woman who loves and trust my Lord and Savior
Let this make a difference in your life and bring YOU closer to God. That’s what Todd would’ve wanted out of this situation!!!!!! So that if any of you should go before your friends and family, they can have peace and comfort knowing where your soul rests.

Todd Coleman Gaston


May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Words fail me right now.  Each few seconds I feel as if I am taking a heavy blow to the stomach.  We are so grieved for the tragic loss of one of our very best friends.  I have not even been able to get on here and type this because if I do then somehow that makes it all the more real.

I received a phone call from my man Monday.  I knew when I heard his voice that something was bad wrong.  He told me the news that his very best friend took his life on Monday morning.  We knew bits and pieces of the fact that he had been struggling with life in general for 25 years and battling severe “social anxiety/panic attacks along with depression.  As I type this I want you to know that his wife, Tiana, has given me permission to share his story.  She was one of the only people on this earth that saw his struggle and suffering day in and day out.  I can’t even begin to tell you what this man meant to me personally or to Rod.  There were hundreds and I mean hundreds of people lined up tonight at his visitation.  Todd touched so many lives and he truly loved God with all of his heart, that is something I couldn’t be anymore sure about.  He was a Christian, and is with Jesus, yet He suffered and was ill.  Some ask, “is he in heaven?”  A resounding YES!  Can someone suffer that way and have the hope of Christ in their heart?  Yes!  Is depression real, VERY!  My heart is just about to ache its way out of my chest.  If you or someone you know is battling depression reach out for help.  Tell your friends.  Please set aside your pride and speak up.  Get it in the light so people can pray for you.  Yes we live in a world chock full of judgmental people but you are not alone. 

For the true believer in Christ you are sealed unto the day of redemption, yet you can also be terribly oppressed.

Ephesians 4:30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

 Luke 4:18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed,

If you and I are sealed and marked with the Holy Spirit, then nothing is going to inhabit us but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 1:21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Ephesians 6:11-13 

11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

I have always loved Romans 8 and it speaks to the fact that NOTHING can keep the love of God away from the life of a follower of Christ.

 Romans 8:31-39 31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
      we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Is it sin to take your own life? Yes.  Gods word teaches that we are all sinners.  We all fall short of the glory of God.  This is not justification for the sin.  We do not sin so that grace may abound. 

Romans 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

If the Lord kept a record of sins who could stand?  None of us.  He bore our shame on the cross that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life.  Todd is in heaven with Jesus. 

Psalm 130:3-4

3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
       O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness;
       therefore you are feared.

Why wasn’t he thinking of his family and friends when he did this?  He was ill.  Someone told me tonight that sometimes some people just feel like the world would be a better place without them.  I had to correct that.  No, I am sure for him to be that mentally ill he thought heaven would be better for him and the only way in his thinking to be free from his body of suffering. 

We are mourning but we do not mourn as those who do not have hope (1 Thess 4:13). 

Revelation 21:1-5

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Again, we knew Todd well yet he hid his agony well.  We are so sad and we will miss him so much.  We grieve for his wife Tiana,  son Jarid and step daughter Abigail.  Our hearts break that our dear friend was in so much pain.  Tiana and all of us want him to be remembered by how much he loved God and loved others.  We want others to seek wholeness and healing and continue to fight the good fight in the midst of great trials on the sod of planet earth. 

May his life bring God glory even in his death; and to the great praise and glory of God we know He is with God in Glory.  We will never be the same. 

The following is his obituary but we will remember him for so much more:


GASTON, TODD C., age 45, of Pelham, AL went to be with our Lord on Monday, February 22, 2010. Todd was raised in Decatur, AL and was a graduate of University of North Alabama. He was a long time member of Hunter Street Baptist Church where he taught a singles class and served in many other ministry opportunities through the church. Todd spent the last 15 years working in sales for Jenkins Brick Company and Averitt Express. He will be remembered for his giving and serving spirit as well as his humor and his love for God, his family and friends. He is survived by his wife, Tiana Roper Gaston, and children Jarid Gaston and Abigail Medina; parents, Cecil and Kathleen Spivey Gaston; brother Alan Gaston (Shannon); sister, Teresa Nelson (James); nieces and nephews along with many friends. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 24th from 5-7 pm at Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham, AL. Funeral Services will be held at Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, AL on Thursday, February 25th at 11:00 am. Burial will follow at Southern Heritage Cemetery, Bill Decker officiating. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Todd C. Gaston Memorial Fund at Regions Bank.
Published in The Birmingham News on February 24, 2010