My New Normal: One Little Word – Risk

Light on a PathThe inner cry of my heart may sometimes be – “I’m scared, Lord.” This inner cry flows in all of our lives at times. The economy falters. Our health takes a bad turn. Marital problems arise. Family disputes go unresolved. This can leave us a bit fearful of the great unknown which is always full of unanswered questions – What if? How Come? When? Why?

In my case, I long for change. I thrive on spontaneity. I blog about it. I am a thorn in my own flesh, fearful that I will sink into any form of normality that kills a creative life. Yet, there are those days where I, along with many of you, simply whisper, “I’m scared, Lord.”

Yes, me – the consummate preacher of change and creativity. I preach it but do I walk it without any fear? No, of course not. I’m human. Risk is what I talk about a lot. To me, Christianity is not static but an adventure in Christ. When we let it all go and just live in the Spirit there comes great purpose along with great challenge, great confrontation and lots and lots of questions. But, is there any other way to live? No, not for me. I think about this a lot because if I am talking about it, I want to walk it out. Authenticity, honesty and trust are very important for me.

Today I want to talk about risk – that little four-letter word that I throw around a lot. According to Webster risk means:

Possibility of loss
Exposure to danger
Possibility that something unpleasant will happen

Whoa…wait a minute……….according to this definition, risk means I face the possibility of losing something, facing danger and seeing something unpleasant happen to me. Is my Christian life actually about risk or is it really about walking in faith? Now I see two very different things. Maybe I need to examine this closely and change the word I want to use to describe my Christian walk.

Do I really risk or suffer the possibility of great loss in my ongoing relationship with Jesus? Well, yes, I do suffer loss in my flesh and my own desires. I like my life, a lot. I often want things my own way. When Christ asks me to lay some things down and walk by faith, I don’t always want to because I love my life. That produces tension in me. I am fighting within myself to accept His change or to go my way. This is so true right now in my ‘new normal’ as I am looking for a clear direction from the Lord where to settle. I get in the way many times. That is when fear can set in or confusion or just chaos.

I lose my life to find my life in Christ. I am promised an abundant and full life in Christ in great possibilities that may appear as impossibility right now. But, step out in faith. He is faithful so there is no actually no risk at all. My life is now hidden in Christ. That is not risk in the sense that it comes without great reward. An exchanged life comes with great reward to me– His life in me. Who could actually ask for anything better than that? To follow Christ is to accept the fact that to move in sync with Him, you will lose your life as you know it and come to know Him. No possibility, but fact. What are the alternatives? Keeping your life, living for your self, walking your way day by day by day. I don’t want that.

Do I expose myself to danger? Well yes and no, maybe, could be. Remind me to tell you the story of what happened to me in Uganda some years ago, that involved the military, large guns, a runaway matatu and a somewhat crazy American woman (that would be me) who did not feel it was her time to die so proceeded to take matters into her own hands at one moment in time. That is another story. So yes, there was danger in my obedience to follow God to the ends of the earth. But, He is in control and was in control all the way. I’m still here, aren’t I? He always provides a way out when we are walking His way. Not easy or predictable but there is safety under the shadow of His wing. Danger is as easy to come by walking the streets of New York, in the villages of Africa, or on the interstates of LA.

Does risk bring me headlong into the possibility that something bad or unpleasant will happen? Well, helloooooo…….isn’t that called life? I mean has anyone reading this not experienced something bad or unpleasant happen to them at times? Perhaps if you stayed hidden in your house or just keep your Christianity in a building on Sunday mornings, then, there may be no risk but again, that is not me.

So do I actually risk anything at all? Or is it just normal Christianity to walk out in faith (my new normal)  what seems to be impossible in my earthly eyes? I hold on with the sheer belief and trust that God is able, faithful, awesome, marvelous, in control, loving, kind, graceful, merciful………….all along knowing that He will finish that which He started in me. He does not leave me high and dry. He never leaves or forsakes me. Never. So perhaps I need to word this a bit different. Risk? Well, there is no risk in His love. It is sure, real, true and absolute for you and me. Adventure? Change? Yes, love brings me into that everyday. That is what makes life and my own Christian life filled with possibility in Christ.

So now I face this day. My other blogs reveal that I am walking in a faith that is not my own but is the faith of the Son of God who is leading me forward step by step. Yesterday was not really a good day for me but today looks a bit better because life goes on and I am determined to keep walking, keeping my eyes on Him. It’s all so good.

My challenge to all of us today – don’t see our Christianity as a risk filled with chance but see it as an adventure on a sure path that is laid out for us in Christ in faith. It changes our take on our life if we see it that way. You risk nothing for He is our great reward. You gain Christ. He is our life.

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

10511315_794327653940721_886065626280149819_nGod breathed Rivers of Eden Ministry into my life many years ago. I have tried to define it with the typical Christianese language. I can’t. All I know is that our heart’s cry is to focus on Christ, the Tree of Life – to show forth His grace and flow in His glory wherever we are sent. Holy Spirit flows through us (Marvin and I), in creative expression, through preaching, teaching, prophetic flow – people are healed and set free. Divine connections are the norm for us. We go where God leads us – wherever and whenever He wants us to go. The reality of Christ in me, the hope of glory, is alive and well. Now, I am ready to move out again. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter. God may want to lead us your way – to your home group, church, gathering.

My New Normal: Life’s An Art, Not A Science

Paintbrush“Maybe knowing God is less a science and more an art.”
Divine Nobodies/Jim Palmer

(I have hit a wall. I desire to walk the walk I am talking, living an authentic life and being true to myself. Yet, I hit this wall filled with a bit of unbelief and doubt. In my humanity, I look at God with eyes that question at times. There are days like this but they don’t last long. I thank God for His unconditional love that accepts my questions in the midst of my struggling humanity. These questions do not demean my Christianity. They strengthen it.)

Science has it all down. Each step is quantified and qualified into a predictable result. I know this well. My major in university focused on biology, chemistry, calculus, environmental sciences, algebra and more and more and more. My life was a bit preplanned by my father and in wanting to obey him, I simply took this route. Yet, my heart consistently lived in the tension of loving the arts – music, painting, and more.

At first, in my Christian life, I approached God this same way. Each step, if taken the right way, will lead into a predictable result. Trying to please God, like my dad, I wanted to do the right things. Trying to be the right person, in the right way, walking a predictable path hoping a predictable result would ensue and life would be lived happily ever after.

Life is not predictable and neither is God. It’s best we learn that quickly. When life comes at you in violent storms, major upheavals and just plain silence, not knowing which way to go…………your Christianity is deconstructed down to the bare minimum. Who are you God? Do I even know you after all these years?

Tension keeps rising in me because there are twinges of fear and doubt in the process while at the same time an innate hunger and desire to be me, the ‘me’ who God created me to be. I can’t find me in the predictability of religion or religious surroundings. Hence, There Is No Room For Me At The Inn.

The tension of wanting to be ‘me’ is greater than wanting to be (liked, accepted, favored, honored)___________ fill in the blank. When you are confronted with yourself, as I am right now, I decided that who I want to be is me, not anyone else. So a lot has to go and be healed. This is right now in what we are walking through.

I followed the plan for so many years of what was expected. In fact, I not only followed it but I was excellent in trying to be something I was not because who I am was generally not highly sought after. Please read a few of my other blog posts to keep you updated. Wandering and Waiting. And Looking at the Horizon. This prophetic walk is keeping me on the edge.

Tension escalates and peace is on the horizon some days. Right now in the place I stand, there are no apparent answers and they don’t seem to be coming in my timing and in my way. I can opt out for safety and comfort as a viable alternative by choosing whatever is out there. But, instead I wait for the voice to speak.

“Remember, without hearing the voice of the Lord, you cannot move. After you hear the voice of the Lord, you cannot stay. Trust the cry of your heart; love the cry of your heart. The Church Jesus is building will move forward with the sound of a voice.”
Don Nori

Knowing God is less of a science than an art. As much as I hate to admit it, I have majored in the predictable over these past years of hurt and pain and the tension to break out is intense. I don’t want the science; I want the art side of discovery. That is how I am created to be.

I got up today a bit askew. I am being weaned away from the ‘should do’ and the ‘must do’ into the silence of His presence again. And, let me tell you straight up. God is soooo silent right now. I read, pray, worship – all the quantitative things to produce a predictable result and guess what? Nothing. Not even a whisper.

Since He is all wonderful and loving and kind and real, gracious and merciful and faithful, He knows the time and the place and the way to speak into it all to remind me that I am not alone in this prophetic walk. There He is. In the midst of my moment, God whispers,“Read Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer.”

I immediately downloaded the Kindle version and could not put it down until I got to this quote above. I circled around it and finally settled on it knowing God would speak to me through it.

“Maybe knowing God is less a science and more an art.”

That’s it. That’s for me. That IS me. This journey for me is not a science, trying to figure God out, trying to do it right and not make any mistakes. This walk is an art – movement and flow in creative expression based upon the flow of Holy Spirit in my life. It is not built upon predictable calculated movements. My life is the creative expression of Christ Jesus in the earth right now, and so is yours. That is why our path seems to be a bit up, down, and all around in our eyes. But, not in God’s eyes. He knows the way He is taking every step.

Reality: Still no place to rent – we call daily to various rentals. They either don’t answer at all or else we are turned down because someone jumped in with an application ahead of us or they are too expensive.

Reality: Marvin is an excellent project manager. I not only love my husband but also admire him in every way. Yet, numerous interviews and being narrowed down to just two people and each one – well, no job.

So what now? I will leave this an unanswered question. I don’t know yet. If I did this blog would not be written for the predictable result would be at hand. I want you to enjoy this journey with me and see God get all the glory in what is coming. We can all laugh and smile together and perhaps it will build up your faith to take God out of any box you have put Him in!

Thanks for walking with me in this!

In Christ
Debra Westbrook

10511315_794327653940721_886065626280149819_nGod breathed Rivers of Eden Ministry into my life many years ago. I have tried to define it with the typical Christianese language. I can’t. All I know is that our heart’s cry is to focus on Christ, the Tree of Life – to show forth His grace and flow in His glory wherever we are sent. Holy Spirit flows through us (Marvin and I), in creative expression, through preaching, teaching, prophetic flow – people are healed and set free. Divine connections are the norm for us. We go where God leads us – wherever and whenever He wants us to go. The reality of Christ in me, the hope of glory, is alive and well. Now, I am ready to move out again. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter. God may want to lead us your way – to your home group, church, gathering.

My New Normal: Looking At The Horizon In The Midst Of The Now

SeeKeep in sync with me – read some of the previous blogs. No Room at the Inn. And, of course, Wandering and Waiting. After going back and forth to San Diego, we found no peace to settle there, at least for now. I thought it was the place, but each time I go, we look everywhere, and come up short.

The journey sounds like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears – the porridge is too hot, too cold, too big, too small……….finally, she finds one that is just right, perfect to taste. I want the just right – not the almost or the next best thing or the good enough.

We broadened our search to Huntington Beach, Redondo Beach, Long Beach – townhouses and homes. Nothing felt right. What’s going on here? I am not sure – not at all. Yet, I am not confused. I feel that God is walking with us, revealing a different side to Himself with each new day. I will keep you posted.

What am I waiting for? I wait for Holy Spirit to show us, “This is it.” I will know it when I see it. So wandering here there and everywhere, looking, watching and waiting is my new normal, at least for a while. I expect a lot from where I settle for a season, both spiritually and physically. There should BE community, unity, intertwining lives where one life is involved with another life, centered preaching on God’s grace, the finished work of the cross, reality, authenticity, a place of concern and love and care. Am I asking too much?

I don’t want to just ‘live’ in a place, I want to be “living” in the place where I settle.

Perhaps many of you wonder or think, “Why doesn’t she just find a place to live and be done with it?” Ah, then you don’t know my life. I don’t do it that way.

Over the years, Holy Spirit, consistently in grace, reveals to me, through dreams, visions, revelation and words of knowledge where to go, where to live, where to stay. Let me explain it this way. It’s like a ‘domino effect’. I am positioned in Christ in the right place, at the right time, and one domino sets off another domino and they all fall down. I trust. I believe. I walk one step at a time, following the leading of Holy Spirit. That ‘way’ has led us around the world, with perfect provision in perfect grace. I don’t know how else to live. If there is a different way, God will reveal that to me.

Now, in the dense urban jungle of LA, we seem to wander. It’s so BIG, so VAST, so SPREAD OUT – options, choices abound without limitations. The only constraint for most people is money and time. You get what you pay for here. You see, the closer to the beach, rents go up and up and up. Yesterday, 800 square foot house in Redondo Beach – $2400. I walked away and cringed inside. Can I believe that God will place me, position me in the right place, regardless of what the external circumstances and constraints say?

I am constrained by the voice of God to find that place to settle, not looking at the outward constraints but listening to the voice of Holy Spirit. I listen, wait and then act.

In the meantime, we pray and worship in the Spirit. In the natural realm, we wander and look at places to settle. It’s all good. Not everyone can live this way but it is our life. We always sense this quiet assurance that God is with us, does not forsake or fail us, and that a keen adventure lies right ahead of us. Just follow Him.

Remember, this is my prophetic process right now. Each of us goes our own way – thank God – in creative flow. Or, at least we should all be open to something new, something fresh. I pray your journey is well.

Why all of this? Why am I going here there and everywhere, sometimes with Chloe, our bulldog in tow? Well, I believe we are to be divinely positioned in time and space to discover divine connections, divine opportunities and divine moment that open up to us in time when we are in the right place. Every place is good, but not every place is good for me. These opportunities are heaven-sent, right smack down into the midst of time – like Peter and Cornelius, or Saul on the Road to Damascus, or Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the wall. Our life is not dull, but neither is it filled with the extravagance of riches. We walk in the simplicity of His voice. This is ‘me’.

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

10511315_794327653940721_886065626280149819_nGod breathed Rivers of Eden Ministry into my life many years ago. I have tried to define it with the typical Christianese language. I can’t. All I know is that our heart’s cry is to focus on Christ, the Tree of Life – to show forth His grace and flow in His glory wherever we are sent. Holy Spirit flows through us (Marvin and I), in creative expression, through preaching, teaching, prophetic flow – people are healed and set free. Divine connections are the norm for us. We go where God leads us – wherever and whenever He wants us to go. The reality of Christ in me, the hope of glory, is alive and well. Now, I am ready to move out again. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter. God may want to lead us your way – to your home group, church, gathering.

My New Normal: Wandering and Waiting

479731_10151387670278930_1741421622_nWhere do I settle to bring forth the reality of the revelation – Christ in me, the hope of glory? I invite you to read the previous blog – There’s No Room At The Inn. I invite you in on this prophetic journey, step by step by step. Oh, in case you don’t know the story of Mary and Joseph, just google Luke, Chapters 1 & 2.

I live, move and have my being in Christ Jesus. At this time, there is this sense of destiny and purpose deep within me to BE at the right place IN the right time. This should not come with pressure since Holy Spirit is able in all ways to lead us in grace and glory. Yet, there are days where I rant, days where I am frustrated, and days where I find inner peace – it’s life. Perfection in my emotional states often elude me since I am a passionate person of outward expression. I know my rest is in Christ alone. But, there are days where I find myself out of sync internally. I then return to the secret place in Christ, breathe and keep on walking, in peace and rest.

“I don’t have to figure it out.” I keep saying to myself each day. “I just have to BE and the flow will move me in the direction I am to go. But, Lord, what about the now? There does not appear to be direction today.”

This is my now – transition, of a good kind. Walking the walk, in sync with my verbal message. A prophetic journey, step by step. I am letting you all in on it, too. A new day dawns with increasing hope and promise. Why? Haha! Time comes with limitations. In our case, our lease is extended to mid-August, giving us a bit more time. So, there is hope that today IS the day. It may prove to be the same old day as yesterday. In any case, the day is coming where we have to pick up and go so I hope in the passing of time.

There is no room at the inn for us – prophetically speaking. It is my new normal and actually has been for some time. It is difficult to find a place to BE right now, a place of acceptance, love and community. A place where there is a gathering, a coming together, one with another for Jesus Christ and Him alone.

(Here’s a bit of an aside. Many times, when I speak about my life in this way, people say “Oh Debra….what about the “one”? There is plenty to do. Just look around. You are over spiritualizing this.” Those spiritual clichés and many more abound and even though there is truth in those statements, they do not apply to me at this time. We (Marvin and I) have always stopped for the ‘one’. This time is different. There is something greater that is coming, that I have waited for and longed for in my life. I press.)

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

When we go into different spiritual environments (churches, gatherings), we experience a variety of things – acceptance based upon the prevailing norm, hype, rejection, conformity stressed in subtle ways, works, performance, etc. We can’t seem to find that place to settle where it all just comes together in community for us. I look for a place to birth Rivers of Eden. This involves people of grace, vision, and purpose in Christ alone. In other words, a place to BE me, who Christ is in me. I want that for me and I want that for each of you reading. (Stretching out in total honesty now – risking.)

At this time, we can’t seem to settle, to find other people, outside of the internet, who seem to be going our way. I want the face to face with people, not just online.

Often, going into different places, as we passionately speak of Christ, many seem to disregard what we say or even disdain our grace awakening to His goodness and glory. Many have a set path, following some iconic minister or ministry, speaking the God-talk, preconfigured and templated. There seems to be no room at the inn for what is out of the box, still in process, or not totally aligned with the prevailing vision. This season is hand-tailored by God, for us, for His purpose. So, we wander and we wait.

Today, there is no time for self-pity, discouragement – birthing pangs increase in my life each day. Where to go? My focus – find a place to birth. Birthing spiritually and settling down in the natural, physical realm as to location. They both go hand in hand right now.

Geesh – I pray I am not losing some of you. Follow along by the Spirit – I am trying to speak spiritual thoughts with spiritual language, doing the best I can, without constantly explaining or qualifying my statements.

More coming…..wanting to keep this a bit shorter for each of us to digest a bit at a time. Do you find yourself in any of this? Maybe, maybe not. I know some of you do. I can feel it as I write, or I would not be writing this. In any case, process is good and writing in process is really good.

In Christ
Debra Westbrook

10511315_794327653940721_886065626280149819_nGod breathed Rivers of Eden Ministry into my life many years ago. I have tried to define it with the typical Christianese language. I can’t. All I know is that our heart’s cry is to focus on Christ, the Tree of Life – to show forth His grace and flow in His glory wherever we are sent. Holy Spirit flows through us (Marvin and I), in creative expression, through preaching, teaching, prophetic flow – people are healed and set free. Divine connections are the norm for us. We go where God leads us – wherever and whenever He wants us to go. The reality of Christ in me, the hope of glory, is alive and well. Now, I am ready to move out again. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter. God may want to lead us your way – to your home group, church, gathering.

 

My New Normal: There’s No Room At The Inn

When you declare that risk and change are the new normal in your life, be prepared to see that statement challenged. So it goes with me. And you? I know some of you out there can relate.

As I write, I write about prophetic lifestyle. I don’t believe that to speak for God, one has to always say, “I the Lord say this” or “Thus saith the Lord”. Or to go on and on about what I believe God is saying, hoping the repetition somehow adds validity to the statement I am making. Or to qualify every statement with “God told me” or “I heard from God”.  I am going to speak out of the flow of my prophetic life. Yes, I live a prophetic life, which means that Marvin and I follow the flow of Holy Spirit. I speak what I walk. I walk what I speak.

Take_RisksSo our new normal is risk and change. I said it. I believe it. And, I still believe it even though our trip to San Diego yesterday did not pan out – nothing, nada, nothing – every door closed on every place we looked to rent. So, what do I do? I was soooooo discouraged but a little sleep and a bit of time of just looking at God saying “Okay, what now? Do you realize that we have only 2-3 weeks left to move?”

I always sense His smile even when I am a bit askew, out of sorts or out of sync. I am walking in change and risking it all to follow Him. There is no plan B. There is no turning back. So San Diego only produced a long ride through hellish LA traffic to spend hours riding around looking for that perfect place. Not a perfect place on the outside. That perfect place that just glows and God says “Settle here. I have a work for you to do here, right here.”

I can’t go the normal route or what I used to do. Remember what I wrote yesterday:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

And then there is Kenya, our upcoming trip that keeps getting pressed back each month. Right after I declare the new normal is about risk and change – $2200 in car repairs. I know many of you know what I mean. Okay, I am still smiling through it all. I really am. But, reality does set in hard and then it is necessary for me to rise above the reality to see the promise and hold it tight.

A hard decision was made. At this time, we simply can’t afford to go to Kenya unless we get a miracle in the realm of finances. I once heard John Eckhart say, “The apostolic/prophetic funds itself.” That is true. All along this journey, after years of walking in ministry, we rarely get donations. God always seems to finance these trips through a raise, a promotion in job, and other ways. We will not beg, hype things up, or coerce. I can’t do that. I have never done that and I won’t start now. (Here’s a little aside. I am human you know with feelings. Over the years, we give and give and give to many many people. There I said it. It’s true. A lot of seeds sown but not a lot of harvest. Many walked away or stole from us, yet we forgive and walk on. This small testimony is just the tip of the iceberg. I am not one to major on this or rant and rave but sometimes I need to say it to be authentic and truthful about this side of our Christianity.)

Woman So what does God do now? Three hours back in that hellish traffic of LA and I am totally disgruntled. I am sitting in the car, marveling at why anyone wants to live here and suffer this commute. Griping inside and complaining, I get a full-fledged vision. (God’s grace, grace, grace.) Did I just say, “God said”? Didn’t I say above I don’t like that or don’t do that to qualify my own heart? Well yes and no. I saw a vision, which is common for me. I take these visions to heart. And, the vision is from God. Here goes.

I saw Marvin like Joseph and me like Mary, wandering, pregnant to the max with possibility after a long long year of a mundane walk in pregnancy. We wandered here, there and everywhere, looking for some place to stay. No where. We tried going every possible route to birth this baby but all we met with were doors slammed in our face and a lot of:

“There’s no room.”
“What did you say your name was?”
“Where are your credentials, your resumes?”
“Who’s your covering?”
“Who did you say you were?”
“Who you?”

Well the prophetic is now syncing with our reality. In other words, we are walking what we are talking. We are the message right now. So, stay tuned. There is more coming.

I am so pregnant (only spiritually folks, my kiddos are 31 and 34). So pregnant, Christ forming and moving in me, ready to birth that which has been prophesied over me for a long time. But, now there is no room for us at the inn, physically or spiritually.

So what to do?

We search for our ‘stable’ where we expect wise men and shepherds to visit us. Africa is on the back burner but only temporarily………the promise does not die.

More coming. Another trip to San Diego in the next few days…I know this is where God wants us. He will supply. Love you guys.

In Christ,
Debra

cropped-10177248_755497004490453_3881209406351311543_n.jpgRivers of Eden Ministry - God breathed this into my life many years ago. I have tried to define it with the typical Christianese language. I can’t. All I know is that our heart’s cry is to focus on Christ, the Tree of Life – to show forth His grace and flow in His glory wherever we are sent. Holy Spirit flows through us (Marvin and I), in creative expression, through preaching, teaching, prophetic flow – people are healed and set free. Divine connections are the norm for us. We go where God leads us – wherever and whenever He wants us to go. Christ in me, the hope of glory. Now, I am ready to move out again. Our first place – Kenya, August 18-September 2, 2014 (God willing with a clear miracle) . Contact us on Facebook or Twitter. God may want to lead us your way – to your home group, church, gathering.