One Way

TruthThis is all so much bigger than me. This thing called life and the working out of it all. It’s best to walk in humility and grace as I apprehend truth and revelation. Trying to defend my corner of the world, I can find myself upended when God reveals Himself to me in a way that I don’t expect or even comprehend. Life as I know it, walk it, and see it is so much bigger than me. Life is breathtaking, awesome, magnificent and majestic in Christ. I need some awesome again.

There are seasons of life where my foundational beliefs flow in life again, not just lodged in the area of my heart on a shelf called “What I should Know by this Time”. Foundational beliefs are easily challenged in the realm of social media, tolerance at all costs, new trends, opinions, arguments, images and input from every diverse opinion on the planet easily flows. Facebook can crack my foundations and try to get me to believe that what I believe is not quite right, not quite open-minded enough, not quite true.

I deactivated Facebook for now. How long? Long enough for me to get my personal bearings in Christ and His simplicity right on target again. Long enough to see the course that Jesus has charted for my life without the distraction of constant noise that subliminally unnerves me on Facebook.

talking headsIt’s easy to move in the ebb and flow of Facebook, in the transitional waters that try to take me down into various currents. The grace current, the political current, the prophetic current, left-wing, right-wing, constant images, atheists, agnostics, progressives, liberals, evangelicals, new age and more. I unplug or I will lose myself in the process. It’s true, you know. And, that is what I did – at least for a while.

Facebook is a never-ending series of words and images that seem to be going nowhere for me. For me, maybe not for you. The waters are always moving to the next trend of belief and they are always trying to shift people. At this time in my life, I want to stand secure on the rock of Christ Jesus. Him alone. My voice sounds forth as I stand on a sure foundation, not one that is rocky, shaky or moving erratically with the times. There is no safety or security outside of Christ.

The foundation of my life:

Way Truth LifeJohn 14:6
Jesus said to him, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jesus is the way. He is the name above all names and the way to Father God. He is the way – not Allah, Buddha, not Confucius. He is my way, my truth, my life.

To make this claim, as He did, is either lunacy or the simplicity of truth. I believe He is truth, in its ultimate simplicity that makes a person believe or walk away.

He is love.
He is light.
He is life.

I am fully committing myself to this reality again in my life. Now, don’t get me wrong. I never stopped believing this. He is the way. Yet, amidst the constant noise of social media and the world at large, it’s easy to get lost in its flow. My voice sounds forth with clarity, despite any opposition. His way flowing through my life – no other way. No other life, outside of Christ. This truth being revived in my heart opens up a door into which I walk, again. Where do I find myself? In a broad place of life and light. In Christ. In Him I live and move and have my being.

Future posts will flow from this reality – with challenge, confrontation, love, simplicity, life. My life reached a point where I must affirm this reality in my writing. It never is popular. One can easily see that. But, I never was popular anyway. Why start now? It’s easy to lose your life and voice if you’re not careful.

DebraIn Christ
Debra

If you would like Rivers of Eden Ministry to come to your home group, church, or gathering please comment below, or contact us on Twitter. Read Our Timeline to get better acquainted with our lives.

To All The Cave Dwellers: Come into the light!

stop-scaring-meAre you a cave dweller? This is a place that many may find themselves in at this time. In caves, one adjusts to a level of comfort, whatever that may individually be, isolated from reality. To many, a cave is better than confronting the fear of what is ‘out there’. One can find solace in the safety of a cave. One can be isolated from the reality of the world, which exists in increasing fear. The light in a cave varies from pitch-black to shadows laced with illusion and imagery. In this place, one can even create their own reality. In any case, a cave is not a pleasant place to be for it evades the light of life. And, life comes with fear. That’s life.

One can live forever in a cave, isolated and alone, even when surrounded by people. One can live bound by fear, go through the motions, and yet, not really live even in the midst of their life. One can learn to see through shadows, avoiding pain and living in internal sorrow. There are self-imposed caves that people live in and these people are all around us on a daily basis. One retreats there to avoid the pain of a chaotic world, its confusion, and its uncertainty. It seems safe.

Fear abounds in caves where voices of accusation cry out. This voice consistently tries to contradict the voice of light and love, which is outside in the light trying to get you to see there is a better way. The voice of fear is powerful and its sheer purpose is destruction of your life. As I said, you live but your life is really only existing. You are not really living.

The darkest of voices accuses in the midst of the cave. The sound bounces off the walls with such a strong reverberating echo that the one who is imprisoned in the cave will repeat over time what the echo is saying.

The dark voice sounds forth: “YOU CAN’T”. This sound crashes against the walls of the cave, resounding with such fury that it penetrates the ears of the cave dweller. It echoes: “YOU CAN’T. YOU CAN’T. YoU Can’t. YOU can’t. You Can’t. you can’t. you can’t”…as it fades away.

The sound penetrates the ear of the one listening. The cave dwellers repeat this empowering sound to themselves each and every day. “YOU CAN’T. YOU CAN’T. YoU Can’t. YOU can’t. You Can’t. you can’t. you can’t………….”

It is a discordant and destructive sound that demands attention. This fear embeds itself in many lives and many don’t know how to get out. The voice continues.

“It’s not possible.”
“Give up.”
“It won’t work.”
“There is NO way out.”
“You’re stupid.”
“You’re worthless.”
“You’ll die.”

Even in the midst of great fear, to the cave dweller, the alternative is unacceptable. They won’t walk into the light. The light itself seems fearful. Having to confront pain and fear is not easy. It’s easier to stay in the cave than confront the illusion of fear. And it is just an illusion. Staying in the cave, lives are framed within the reality of fear. Lives are lived this way. I see it in people all around me. One always opts out of something one does not want to confront fear in any measure – drugs, alcohol, violence, abuse, pills…………There is a better way.

breaking chainsBe brave! Be courageous! There is nowhere to hide. The world is changing, chaotically and drastically. There is safety in the midst of it all – only in Christ. You can’t hide out. Fear seeps through the cracks and crevices of our lives.

What to do? This is for all those cave dwellers out there who are stuck in the darkness or living in the shadows, captured by fears of all kinds. You only need to come out into the light of Christ. Fear will increase in the world. This is indeed a given fact. It is only in the reality of Christ’s love that we find perfect peace to live in the midst of fear. God has NOT given us over to fear. In Christ, love conquered fear.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

1 John 4:18-19
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

Jesus is clear. There is NO FEAR in love. Perfect love (in the person of Christ) conquered fear and death. This is truth. We do not live in torment or the shadows of fear and confusion. Perfect love is victorious in Christ. Fear is an illusion, a strong one but an illusion nonetheless. There is reality in Christ Jesus.

Fear originates in death, a fear of death, the voice of death, the sound of death. Behind fear’s sound is the reality of death. Christ has conquered death on the cross so death and fear has lost its power. Death is no longer a motivator, a controller, or a manipulator in this life for as Christians, we are eternal, here and now. When Christ died, we died and we now walk and live in union in Christ. We die physically but cross over into life. That is good news.

Perhaps the last enemy to be conquered in our lives in Christ is death and its fears. Perfect love casts out fear.

Look around. There is fear everywhere and behind it is the sound of death. Whether it be Ebola, ISIS, the enterovirus attacking children, the economy, border wars, rape, crime, abuse, violence……………..death fuels fear. Yet, that is what we hear constantly through media, news outlets, and television.

The greatest thing to fear is fear itself. Theodore Roosevelt

Fear is a spirit. Christ’s death and resurrection conquered fear and death.

In Christ.
Not religion.

In Christ.
Not psychology.

In Christ.
Not self-motivation.

In Christ.
Not introspection.
In the person of Christ.

As a Christian, He lives in me. I am in union with Him. My reality. I have nothing to fear.

That does not mean that fear does not try to control and manipulate my life every chance that it gets. Each and every day fear tries to get me to retreat to the cave. It does not work. I don’t retreat because perfect love casts out fear. I won’t stop living amidst the fear and confusion of this world. Fear will not manipulate me to hide out and cringe over what may happen. There is freedom in Christ and this is supernatural reality right in the midst of fear.

Love is strong, courageous, and brave. It conquers fear and brings me life. He makes me brave to face each day in Him. The world takes its best shot. I may falter. I may fall. I may stay down for a bit. Yet, despite it all, perfect love casts out fear. In His light, there is life.

John 8:12
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “ I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

DebraIn Christ,
Debra

If you would like Rivers of Eden Ministry to come to your home group, church, or gathering please comment below, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter. Read Our Timeline to get better acquainted with our lives.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? (3) What Does Love Sound Like?

What does love sound like? Does love sound gentle and sweet? Yes. Does love sound strong and challenging? Yes. There are many creative ways Jesus expresses His life through people. Find your expression.

cropped-1images1.jpgThe expression of love through my life flows from Holy Spirit revealing Christ in me. Therefore, I can speak with strength and I can also speak quite gently and soft. Either one has its place. It is as Holy Spirit leads me. Let me say though that love is not always soft and gentle. Love is not always strong and loud. Love IS………..the expression of Christ in me flowing through my life.

Love flows through me uncompromised according to the Spirit’s directive. Love flows through me as the Spirit sees what people need to hear to change and grow. Let’s learn to flow in love in words of the Spirit coming forth in power and strength.

I used to be an angry person. I say ‘used to’ simply because I see quite a change in me. I am called to challenge people to grow, mature and get healed to walk in their destiny. That takes strong words at time, much like a mother would speak to her own kids. My inner anger got in the way of my love expression.

Matthew 12:34
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

My words revealed my anger residing in the depths of my heart. I could discern the right things. I could see right inside a person’s heart. I could prophesy with extreme accuracy but my method of communication conveyed a harshness at times. I loved deeply. But for love to flow from me, it had to go through polluted waters of anger, pain, and deep rejection. For some time, love was dammed up behind walls of insecurity and pain. My heart needed to be opened by love to flow forth in its strength. Nothing to prove now, nothing to lose.

Love-And-Christian-Free-Wallpaper-Colossians-1-27-678x508Leaders in the Body of Christ should realize that unless their own walls are brought down, love never flows forth in strength. Love may be deep inside the person but flowing out it goes around inner wounds and insecurities. It may then flow in compromise; fear of man, or simply to please people to be liked or to grow a congregation. There is no strength of love in this.

Love is honest in its expression and it flows from a heart that has been ripped open in God’s love. Nothing to prove, nothing to lose. Authentic Christianity flows through love and until we get that, the world doesn’t truly see us as we are meant to be seen. It does not see the image of Christ. We definitely need a new love expression where we focus only on Christ, not man.

So, have I morphed into this gentle sweet woman of God? Well, not exactly like that. I sense in my heart I am named Debra for a reason. I am strong. I just had to learn how to move in love’s strength, not my own.

You may be a gentler sort of person. That’s okay. The Body of Christ needs all of us. As God was healing me, I wanted to be kinder and gentler. I tried to be softer and serene. I really tried but somehow it never came out that way. You see, Christ’s love expression through my life is exactly as it should be. There is no qualifying as to how God created me. Here’s how it went. At the beginning of my Christian walk, I relished being hard edged, prophesying and getting it all out. I loved that power. Then God took me through a refiner’s fire and I lost everything that I felt defined me inside. It seemed that I was so empty. Then I came out and love changed my heart. I am still loud, passionate and strong. I am more tempered, shall we say? Love changed my heart but my expression is still forthright, filled with growing wisdom.

People from my past may still call me angry. Why? Perhaps they are waiting for an expression of love through me that I simply don’t walk in right now. They want love to be as they deem it to be – kind, soft spoken, gentle. That is great if that is how God created you to be. It’s just not me. I talk loud. I laugh loud. I talk too much. But, I see people’s calling and destiny and I speak to how God sees them- not how they see themselves, restricted by pain and wallowing in self-pity.

What I want to get across is that love has many expressions. In order to receive, so that we may grow up in Christ, love speaks strongly in ways that may offend those who are unwilling to hear truth. They themselves have their own blockages that need to come down and there are times, soft words just don’t cut it. I am not saying to sound forth in rudeness or harshness but even strong words, spoken to offended people come across as harsh when they are not.

I am finding my voice and I like it. I pray that you find yours.

In Christ
Debra

IDebraf you would like Rivers of Eden Ministry to come to your home group, church, or gathering please comment below, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter. Read Our Timeline to get better acquainted with our lives.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? (2)

Freedom in ChristIn its pure expression in Christ, love is strong, challenging, graceful, confrontive and quite messy.  Love is not static but dynamic. The strength of God’s love flowing through the Body of Christ is often devalued by leadership through compromise and a fear of man. It is diluted in its expression when leaders try to always please people. If there is a fear of people getting offended or losing membership, love is sidetracked from its essence, speaking words that lose power. The world is looking for authentic Christianity.

Christians, in trying to look or sound like the world in order to win people, trying to be culturally relevant, actually lose the essence of power and authority which flows through the reality of love. Love is messy. Love laid the path to the cross for Christ, a messy affair that brought salvation for us. Love is costly and Christ paid the price for our salvation and freedom. We rest in that perfect reality but love indeed produces suffering in our lives in Christ. It is best we not toss the word ‘love’ around so lightly.

The Body of Christ is weakened and devalued in power and authority through a misunderstanding of exactly what love is in Christ. The world desperately seeks authenticity, which the church is sorely lacking in measure. We can’t express love outside of Christ in God. God is love and His love is expressed in Christ through Holy Spirit. Looking to be culturally relevant has stripped the church of the gifts, speaking in tongues, power ministries and deliverance of demons from peoples’ lives.

There are wonderful churches out there that walk in New Covenant reality, expressing themselves through community. They are few and far between. This community flows in power and authority, with true leadership helping people grow into maturity through the expression of love, which is multifaceted in the Body. What that means is that as we gather, we gather to express truth that is gentle and soft as well as challenging confronting – all formed on a foundation of love. Love is not mean or rude but neither is it compromising or easy to hear. Offense abounds everywhere. People are threatened by truth, labeling it as judgment so as not to digest any part of what is being said to them. Leadership is in need of great change and change is here and is indeed coming. Church, as we know it and knew it, is over. What is coming? We will all see in time as it changes in form and expression.

Right now, so much of the church, seems bent on pleasing the needs of people rather than seeking the heart of God and walking in His will and ways, whatever the cost. I am not intent on generalizing here only to state the problem but to look for a solution for us,  stating relevant observations, challenging us to realize that Christianity is costly. Jesus paid the price in full for our freedom. I marvel at that revelation. In turn, that revelation embeds itself deep into my being. I am then willing to walk in a love that takes risks. Love that does not risk being misunderstood, rejected or persecuted is actually no love at all.

Here’s an example of compromise and fear in the name of love.

I was in a meeting some time ago where a woman kept interrupting the meeting. Her need of attention was obvious, along with her deep-seated anger due to circumstances in her life. Words often betray one’s heart as it did hers to me that day. This is where accurate discernment comes into play. What does this woman need to get free, not to be pacified in the midst of her bondage? And, how does one do this in love, walking in wisdom and grace. Knowing when to speak, when to be silent and as a leader, when to correct and challenge to maturity.

People gathered around her to pray. I was told that this often happens so it became obvious that there was a need in her to cause confusion and take center stage. Over the years, I saw this over and over in leadership.

Back to the story. The leader wanted people to pray for her and minister to her with love and compassion – their perceived idea of love and compassion. Yet, this turned out to be love coated in a fear of man. As I watched them pray, I saw that it grieved God’s heart for He wanted her to be free but it would take some words spoken in love’s strength that would shift her into a new place where she would have to make a decision. She would either receive or get offended. It was her choice and once made, leadership would then handle it accordingly. Right now, leadership just perpetuated the problem due to this fear of man.

Leadership gave her a great challenging word to change to be free. She rejected what people were telling her, telling them outright, she was actually okay. The leader then apologized for his word to her. How is this down? Quite easy. With qualifiers that dilute true power and authority. He said something like “Well, this word may be right. I am not sure. Please pray about it. I believe God is saying this but if it does not bear witness then just discard it.

TruthOh my! Why even bother? There was so much qualifying being done that it appeared to be full of mercy and grace. BUT, it was actually full of fear – and in fear there is little faith and even less change.

In subsequent meetings, she did the same thing over and over – interrupting and trying to interject confusion into the meeting with her needs.

Now for some intense honesty here. Over the years, I didn’t always walk in love. That is why God is revealing love’s strength to me today in the midst of my heart healing. I was angry and that came out in my preaching and prophesying. When confronted with this anger, I swung to the other side and tried to be merciful, not confronting, not challenging, thinking that I must learn to be more loving. It did not work. I had to learn about love by looking to the expressions of Jesus as He focused on the Father.  I see love as strong, clear and awesome as well as soft and gentle and tender. I will risk misunderstanding and rejection to focus on growth and maturity in people speaking in love. But,  I will not imprison love within my contained definition. Love is life and love flows – all in its multi-faceted expression.

That was just one example above on a small scale but it shows my point. The strength of love is to be shown in and through leadership without fear of man or people pleasing. Love takes on many different forms and expressions. Look at Jesus………..the creative expression of His Father in heaven, living and moving and being in love.

May the strength of love empower Christians to risk reputations, honor, finances, and even ministry to walk in an uncompromised love of Christ. To love the Body of Christ so deeply and to love people so strongly that we desire change and maturity so that the Kingdom is advanced in greater measure throughout the earth.

In Christ,
Debra

DebraIf you would like Rivers of Eden Ministry to come to your home group, church, or gathering please comment below, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter. Read Our Timeline to get better acquainted with our lives. Marvin and I realize that there are times when small groups of people do not have finances to bring us in. We will still come, as Holy Spirit leads. Just pray and ask.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? Devaluing Its Meaning (1)

Is there a ‘trade deficit’ in the church? I believe so. Our ‘currency’ is being devalued on a daily basis and we are importing more from the world than exporting into the world at large. What is our ‘currency’? Love. As Christians, we move in love, flow in love, act in love – love is our life and love and life is in Christ. In Christ – this is the fullness of the very substance and essence of love. Love finds its consummate meaning in Christ in God, in the Trinity. Love IS God. God is love.

Love is not some nebulous vacuous word, constantly bantered about as if it can stand alone, outside of the very essence of love – God, in Christ, in Holy Spirit.

Love-And-Christian-Free-Wallpaper-Colossians-1-27-678x508In its very substance in Christ, love flows into the deepest places of despair while also confronting the ultimate platforms of arrogance, greed and pride. It moves in various ways, though unique platforms, and into diverse places through the lives of Christians who have Christ in them, the hope of glory. I see love in its confrontational strength destroying paradigms, shaking nations and uprooting people in pursuit of their greatest purpose in Christ. Yet, there is a war going on – the devaluation of love and its very meaning and outflow. Has the church lost the essence of love, true love in authentic Christianity?

This week, I am going to talk about love and its devaluation in western Christianity (of which I am a part) and how the world views love, somewhat askew and very distorted.  Follow along with me. I believe you will find the journey quite interesting. I do not propose to have all the answers. I do not want to be problem oriented. I want to put all this forth and seek the solution which resides in me as a Christian.  Perhaps this blog will cause you to think more than give you concrete answers. We all desperately need to learn to think, to reason and to walk in wisdom again.

The Light Goes OnHow did I even start thinking about this? Well, it all starts in my own inner stillness wherever I am, practicing His presence.  While sitting on the beach, watching people in Starbucks, or driving. Even in the midst of intense noise or chaotic circumstances. Not just observing, but actively watching people and discerning as the Spirit of God speaks to me about the current state of affairs in my own little corner of the world.

I kept pondering how the word ‘love’ is bantered about nowadays, yet in all this banter, there is little substance to it all. Have you noticed? How can you not if you are breathing? The very people, who say that they love you, leave you on a whim, in the blink of an eye with no prior notice. Or what about people who consistently say “I love ______” (fill in the blanks), without any substance to their words because when the going gets tough, they run like crazy in the opposite direction. There’s so many more examples. I am sure you are thinking of some right now.

Over the course of a few days, I sensed Holy Spirit opening my ears to hear. This little four-letter word is undergoing intense devaluation all around us. So I did some research on Google which tied some things together in my mind. I learned a few things about basic economics.

Here are a few facts in the natural that can easily be applied to the spiritual realm in my Christian life.

Currency devaluation (love for us) – a country allows the devaluation of its currency to drop in relation to other currencies. Hmmmm…………..I see the church at large devaluing its purpose under the guise of being more relevant or culturally acceptable all in the name of love, adopting the world’s standards along the way. In this process, loves loses its substance and strength in Christ alone. Love is strong, substantial and often confrontational in its essence.

Devaluation – a reduction of value and status. Hmmmm…what’s love got to do with this one? I paraphrase something I read –  “When one loses faith and trust in something or someone (Christ alone) one stops believing in it (Christ, His power, His anointing, Holy Spirit) and hence, doubt and self-reliance comes into play (leaving us searching for new techniques to attract people to our church or conference). And all in the name of loving people………….soft, sweet and syrupy.

A trade deficit ensues when a country imports more than we export. Hmmmm…I walk into so many churches that look to entertain in their quest to be relevant. What happened to the power of God in His kingdom dynamic flowing through the church? The norm – don’t offend, don’t rock the boat – let’s all be nice and love everyone, singing Kumbaya as we hold hands, smiling. We are importing the ways of the world to enhance a religious culture and in the process we are losing substance. Are we afraid to love? Looks that way to me.

Love is the answer. Real love. Authentic love. Love that confronts, challenges, gets messy, may offend and alienate as well as gather and build up. Love is multifaceted in its substance. Love is focused. Love is real.

I look to the problem and search for the solution in my quest for authentic Christianity. I don’t want to gripe or complain, yet I want to speak forth the reality of the current condition so that change my flow in Christ. Throughout the church at large, leadership is in flux – discouraged, depressed, compromising, losing vision and momentum. Stop trying to please man and live to please God. It all starts with love and its substance in Christ. There is a way out and it is in loving Christ alone. In Him there is life and in that there is focus.

My voice and inner convictions will shine forth, without trying to be popular or relevant.  I believe that after years of being forgotten, overlooked, rejected, and passed over I have finally stumbled upon a great truth.

When I have nothing to prove, I have nothing to lose.

I love and I love deeply and I see that it looks a lot different from how the world at large portrays love ( and maybe even the church). How does love play out in your life in Christ?

DebraIn Christ
Debra

If you would like Rivers of Eden Ministry to come to your home group, church, or gathering please comment below, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter. Read Our Timeline to get better acquainted with our lives.