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

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.

In Sync With Your Spiritual Senses – Part 3

Holy Spirit GiftsChristianity is supernatural – the Word and the Spirit. I walk in a natural world in a supernatural bent. To live in sync with my spiritual senses, I am not ‘on call’ as if I have to strive to BE spiritual. A lot can be learned from mentors, books, and conferences but the greatest teacher is Holy Spirit who reveals Christ in me, to me, and through me. I do not fragment or separate my spirituality into a section of time on my calendar as if it is external to me. He is my life and my outflow of supernatural life flows from this reality. I only have to learn, by Holy Spirit, to BE. From that being flows a glory of doing. This is where I am right now as visions and supernatural words are increasing in my life.

John 16:13-15
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

Living and moving from a position of being seated in heavenly places does not take a concerted effort as if one would learn some new technique or skill. God ordained that we would learn to BE from times of intimacy with Him. I didn’t always sit at the feet of mentors, hoping to catch what they had and have it miraculously imparted to me. I had to learn, be teachable and then move out. To move in Christ, one has to walk more than sit – one has to move in faith, seeing what can’t always be seen and hearing what is being spoken from heaven. Walking in the spirit, for me, simply means that through times of intimacy (prayer, worship, meditation in His Word) there comes an outflow of life. All the rest flows in this river without giving much thought to it at times. From being in His presence, being in union in Christ, we flow in Holy Spirit wherever we are. I practice the presence of God.

When there are days when I find myself ‘out of sync’ with Him, I only have to stop, breathe and relationship is restored in the blink of an eye. It only feels like we have been ‘out of sync’ with Him, perhaps due to the world’s noise or daily interruptions. He never leaves us or forsakes us.

As I move in my day, I am learning to see and hear what Holy Spirit is saying to me, whether I am in worship in my office or at Costco. Some holy moments have occurred in my life in Costco.

Christ in YouWhile in Costco one day, my eyes were drawn supernaturally to a young woman, checking out, with a baby-sitting in her basket. The baby seemed to have some sort of problem but I could not discern at the time. I only knew that all I was doing was checking out in the aisle next to her when my spiritual eyes opened and God simply nudged me, “Do you see her? I want you to encourage her today.” I was present in the moment, not distracted by external noise – present in the moment in Christ.

There always comes a bit of trepidation and fear as God tells you to jump out of the boat. I have been walking in this way for years and my heart still beast faster as I step out in faith.  After all, who wants someone to come up to you and say, “God has a word for you”. I have also had people look at me as if I should be locked up. So, over the years, I learned to change my delivery to being naturally supernatural.

I had to wait outside Costco that day because her line was a bit slower than mine. Eventually she came outside. What to do? In a split second one decides to move in faith or stand in fear. I am a lion at heart and for the most part, I don’t mind looking like a fool. I gently stopped her and began to prophesy over her child and her.

The words, to me, seemed quite simple and gentle, but within her, they resounded like an earthquake. She stood, eyes wide open, with tears welling up. I can’t remember exactly every word I said,  but it had to do with what she was facing with her baby who, I believe had some type of challenge, whether autism or something like that. She began to cry and immediately said to me, “Come with me.” We moved over a few feet.  She then asked me to keep an eye on her baby while she called her mom. She began speaking to her mom about what I had just said to her and then promptly handed the phone to me.

As I took the phone, the woman on the other end began crying and laughing at the same time. She began to tell me that she had been praying for her daughter for years about all they had walked through as a family. Her daughter, so touched that God truly saw her, told her mom on the phone that a woman, sent by God in Costco, just spoke directly to her heart.

There was lots of joy that day on both parts. I never saw the woman again but I did not need to. I only needed to be obedient to Holy Spirit so that a life would be changed. I only pray that someone would do the same for me.

This is a simple story. Many of you have done this and more in your life. Bravo!! And many of you long to move out of a comfortable place of religion to walk in life. Be brave and courageous in Christ. Let’s let Holy Spirit breathe and flow again with spontaneity and surrender. Life is beautiful this way.

cropped-10177248_755497004490453_3881209406351311543_n.jpgIn Christ,

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.

In Sync With Your Spiritual Senses– Part 2

PaintbrushEach of us should be in sync with our internal wiring, our internal ‘bent’ – ‘bent’ meaning the way we are designed to live, move and have our being in Christ. He is our life. He is the way. He knows the path we take as are we created to walk in sync with Him.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (NKJV)

Proverbs 22:6 Point your kids in the right direction––when they’re old they won’t be lost. (The Message)

In other words, our parents raise us up and get us going on our own unique paths created in Christ, encouraging and challenging us each step of the way to be US. To be the unique individual that God created.

Some of us are blessed to have parents that did just that while others may not even know what it feels like to have the unconditional support and love from parents who love you no matter what. Well, for those who have been blessed to be raised up to BE, that is a great thing. For others, I have great news.

What is lacking in the natural in your life, is now given to you in a Father, God Himself, who will lead you on a journey to discover how you are internally wired, how He made you, so as to live a life, even in the midst of trial and struggle, knowing that you are created to BE perfectly and rightly formed. In this there is great peace along with an adventurous wild ride in radical Christianity that evades the norm of this complacent religious atmosphere to BE spiritual, our true self.

We are more easily trained to physical jobs, some of which we hate at times. So many of us drag ourselves out of bed, knowing that we have to DO the work to get by and make a living, but the work does not satisfy, leaving us void of passion and purpose. I do not have a 10-step plan on how to achieve your dreams. I have something greater. Let me introduce to you Holy Spirit – who leads you into revelation of the person of Christ who is your life. Jesus Himself looks at you and simply calls out, “Follow Me.”

We are created for a more excellent way. To BE a Christian involves walking in Christ in Holy Spirit, loved by Father God, along a path of light and life, tailored for each of us in unique and creative ways. And, that involves using our spiritual senses to flow in a greater reality. What reality is this?

Colossians 1:27
….Christ in you, the hope of glory….

Ephesians 2:6
……and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus….

Let’s get this down into our spirit, firmly settled in our foundational understanding of our salvation. I am created, along with you, to engage our spiritual senses from this new place we call home, the heavenly realm. I am seated with Christ, IN Christ, in heavenly places. I live in the world yet I see and hear that which is from a higher reality. And that is what gets me through the fear, the angst, the chaos, and the violence of this world that which surrounds me on a daily basis. I don’t ‘bow out’ or ‘opt out’ but I SEE through the lens of a greater reality – the reality of being seated in heavenly place right now.

To interpret our natural reality through the lens of a greater spiritual reality brings life and light through our lives in the earth realm. That is why God wires us each differently in life. Some of us continually see visions. Some of us hear the word of the Lord with a firm knowing inside that which is God’s heart. Some of us administrate. Some of us serve in extraordinary ways in obscure places. It matters not the ‘what’. The focus is ‘WHO’. Who calls you? Who knows you? And, who equips you to walk in this earthly realm while seated in heavenly places? Who challenges you to step out and bring heaven to earth right where you are right now? God Himself in the reality of His Son.

Holy Spirit is within to help us engage with our spiritual selves while walking in the natural. It is time. We need this now and in the days ahead. One needn’t learn to BE who we are – no striving, no restlessness. It all starts with intimacy. One on one with God who leads the way.

DebraIn Christ,

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.

In Sync With Your Spiritual Senses– Part 1

KeyholeWe are created to operate with our natural senses and our spiritual senses – to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. As a visual learner, I pick up on things quickly if it is shown to me visually, as opposed to being spoken to me. Pictures, visions, or images given to me by God open up revelation that allows me to see in the Spirit that which may not be visible in the natural. God gifts me this way to discern what is going on in the Spirit in order to pray, give a word of wisdom or knowledge or just to know, to be aware.

I am learning that the increase of this supernatural anointing flows through grace and humility. In other words, God looks for those with whom He can share His heart. The purity of a heart, filled with love for Christ and people, clears the eyes and opens the ears to clearly see and hear and then, perhaps, to speak. To see through a lens of pride, arrogance, or judgment only serves to weaken this gift of life. Then what use is it to any of us?

What about hearing a supernatural sound? This is a new path for me, one that opens up year by year. For instance, I remember the first time I traveled through Finland in 2002; I heard the sound of rushing water. I had no idea at the time how to interpret this supernatural occurrence let alone what to do with what I was hearing.

What I heard, and heard quite often, was a prophetic sound of release that God desired for this nation. Soon the sound of the water accompanied a vision from Holy Spirit. I saw rushing water, flowing down from the north of Finland to the south. I would encourage you NOT to do what I did in my earlier years.

Instead of rushing along with some premature interpretation, sensing you may know what the sound and the vision may convey – wait and be still, knowing that He is God. He will reveal, in His time, what He so freely shows His children. God gifts His children with an ease of grace because He desires to enhance our Christian walk with His life and His light. Christianity is founded in a supernatural movement as we live, move and have our being in Him.

The sound, the vision – as I waited on God to speak concerning the meaning of it all, He did.

As water rushes down from the north to the south, flowing in power and strength, so is the heart of God for the nation of Finland. That He may flow from the high places to the low places, bringing with it, healing, deliverance and freedom from years of captivity that has been imposed upon this land. Establishing courage within a people who are indeed long-suffering, God sees them and knows them to be a people who will stand when others fade away from the pressures of life. This water, continually released from the throne of God, will flow, increasing in intensity in God’s timing and in His way. One need only watch to see the flow of the water indicated the faithfulness and love for this nation.

He is a good Father, teaching us as we go along, walking in sync with Him. Developing our spiritual senses is necessary in a world filled with chaos. Our eyes are flooded with visual media and our ears are accosted with noise on a daily basis. Desire now to see how heaven is moving in the earth today. Long to hear what God is saying. It is your inheritance in Christ.

John 10:27-30
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.

10511315_794327653940721_886065626280149819_nIn Christ,

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

Rivers of Eden Ministry

The Vision & The Revelation

In 1998, God breathed this ministry into my life while on a plane 30,000 feet up in the air, flying from Atlanta to the San Francisco Bay Area. Rivers of Eden is a ministry birthed in the heart of God and graciously given to Marvin and myself for such a time as this.

Genesis 2:10-14 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Rivers of Eden flows from the Garden of the Lord, flowing out from the Tree of Life, Christ Jesus. Today, these rivers of life flow from our lives in ministry – Christ is in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27); we are in union in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). Jesus as the Tree of Life is the source of life for us.

The four rivers are:

Pishon – ‘flowing freely’
Gihon – ‘stream’
Hiddekel – ‘rapidly running water’
Euphrates – ‘rushing forth’

The number 4 indicates ‘universality’.

All together, this is significant for us because it means that we will bring the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ in the power of Holy Spirit throughout the world, bringing people into the revelation of His grace and glory.

In Christ, we live, move and have our being. These rivers, flowing in abundance and grace, flow forth with life out of our bellies as living water. (John 7:38)

 Debra & Marvin Westbrook – Our Lives

From its revelation in 1998 to the present time, Rivers of Eden has been growing, slowly, surely, obscurely, hidden for the most part, but nonetheless known by God and carried within my life.

Over the years, Marvin and I have walked through seasons of brokenness, healing, restoration, dryness, rejection, and more to learn a valuable lesson. Surrender. Surrender to Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life, to His will and to His ways so that He is glorified in our lives.

Holy Spirit leads and directs us on our path throughout the earth in ministry, into places where God has destined us to be. Our lives are sourced in Christ.

(If interested, please read Our Timeline to become acquainted with our life’s journey over the years.)

Colossians 1:27-29 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Our Mandate & Our Mission

Our passion is to raise up a people who will live, move and have their being in Christ, as His creative expression in the earth today. In other words, we are all unique, individual in Christ, and corporately placed in His Body to display His grace and His glory through our lives. Whether that be preaching, educating, parenting, administrating, being in business, flowing in the arts, musical, artistic – each of us live in creative expression in the Lord, not as robots or clones.

Our passion:

  • Equipping people – preaching and teaching through the lens of grace in a New Covenant reality while honoring the whole Word of God as it points to Jesus Christ.
  • Flowing in the power of Holy Spirit through prophecy, revelation, words of wisdom, words of knowledge as it builds up, encourages and exhorts the Body of Christ.
  • Demonstrating the power of the Gospel through laying hands on the sick and bringing deliverance and freedom to God’s people.

466987_385067658200058_340338782_oIn Christ,
Debra & Marvin Westbrook