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.

Sometimes You Simply Can’t Go That Way? Then What?

I found myself telling a friend, “I can’t go into that room with you.” The words came out of my mouth, without an immediate understanding as to what they actually meant. I just knew, deep inside, that these words were accurate in what I felt. This room is not actually a room but a place in life where there may be a fork in the road. One person has to go one way while another person goes the other way. I simply said, “I can’t go into that room with you.”

For months, God did not fully explain why I said it that way. He also did not indicate to me what that statement meant. I lived in the tension, trying to figure out what I meant. Not wanting to be careless, uncaring, or arrogant. Not wanting to be nebulous or vague. I simply could not walk the way she was walking. It does not make the path inherently wrong. It simply means that it was not a way for me at this time in my life.

But, why? There’s the question. I finally got an answer, which brought me great peace and increased freedom.

One day in prayer, the Lord spoke to me.

“Debra don’t hedge your bets.”

Hmmmm? I always get these one-liners from God that take me down a path of understanding His way for my life. They work for me. God is gracious to talk to me with a bit of humor with a lot of creativity.

“Don’t hedge your bets.”

What does it mean?

“Debra, don’t walk forward, leaving a means of retreat open in case Plan A does not work. In your case, stick with the plan. There is no plan B. Follow me.”

“Debra don’t try to protect yourself from any losses by creating a protective barrier around you by following the same ole’ same ole’ way you have always gone.”

“Debra, don’t try to minimize your exposure to loss.”

“Debra, I have created you to take risks.”

God and I spent a whole day rehashing and talking through some things. Like how I have lost my ‘edge’ over the past few years. About how I opted for a safe route because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and rejected and invisible.

I can’t hedge my bets by choosing a sure thing. The only sure thing for me is a person, Christ Jesus. He is leading me by a unique, adventurous path. And I already see it starting. After I accepted His words. He began to tell me how He wired me to be and how I actually am and not to fight it all anymore.

So, I could not go into this room with this friend. Yes, she went into it but I could not. And, God does work it all for good, loving all His children.

I have to live my life following a different rhythm, not always easy or predictable but filled with a measure of risk and adventure. To not do life this way only leaves me bored and passive which is death to my soul.

Follow me a bit further. It gets good.

Jesus spoke to my spirit (paraphrasing of course).

Release fear of the future. I’ve got it all in My hands.

Release fear that the past will repeat itself like “Groundhog Day.”

Release fear that you have missed My plan for your life.

Release fear that people control your destiny by their actions.

Release fear of what people think about you – your failures, mistakes, etc.

Then, very succinctly, I heard, “Ask no more questions about the past. Walk forward.”

From that moment something happened, all in a progression of happenings over the past year. I sensed more and more freedom each day.

I know. I can’t go into anyone’s room that may pull me back into the mundane, doing what is expected in a safe way. I can’t walk into a place where possibilities are only something  continually talked about, but never pursued? Not me.

I can’t walk into rooms that are created for someone else. In fact, I don’t want to live in a room at all. A room is a confined space, limited for me, but perhaps not for others. God is cool in that – giving us what we each need.

I never intended to be selfish by not going into that room but I have followed people into so many rooms over the years that now, I want wide open spaces.

I have walked into rooms where people wanted me to mentor them, counsel them, finance their endeavors, talk with me, cry about their problems, walk through their pain with them, enter into their sorrow, their divorce, etc. And YES I have done it and always will do it as God leads for people who I love.

But NOW, that is not God’s plan for me. I want the wide-open fields, the broad places that are beautiful when it is sunny or when there are blustery winds and thunderstorms. I want these wide-open spaces for that is how I am wired in God.

I want the wide expanse of possibility that exists in the midst of what seems impossible, not being contained or conformed to the pressure of normalcy or the status quo.

I sought a measure of comfort for the past few years due to internal struggles and hopelessness. I am happy to say, that is not the case today.

So Lord, take the roof off or better yet, lead me out in a way you have chosen for me to walk…and to run. At least for this season. To walk on the path of faith that God places before me.

Lord, I won’t hedge my bets by choosing the safe way. This is the life you have given me to show forth your glory. Besides that, to take a path that I have taken before, expecting different results is insanity. I did not say that, Einstein did. He probably also liked wide-open spaces.

I won’t commit to be safe

I won’t rely on Plan B when you are a faithful God.

I won’t look for a way out.

I won’t live in fear and choose what is comfortable.

I won’t protect myself against loss by following what seems to be a sure path or a path where others may go, but I cannot go.

I won’t let safety and comfort be a protective barrier around me, keeping me in a false sense of security.

So what now? Doors are opening, wide, very wide. I had nothing to do with it. It is all about Jesus. Kenya is the first door – 3 weeks in August with a great team of people.

Here is a word for me – changed my life….hope you also love it.

Garris Elkins

The way forward you seek is through a doorway that will remain invisible until you step across its threshold of faith. Many have stalled at this point in their journey because they demanded to see the doorway before they were willing to step forward.

What you need to see is not visible in this realm of natural options and solutions. Seeing with natural eyes will only cause you to stumble and stall. The way forward will appear like a step into nothing, but it will become a step into something wild and beautiful.

As you step forward, you will be responding to a voice. Listen for the voice – this is your doorway. The one who said, “I am the door” is the voice inviting you to step forward. Once you cross this threshold an enter this doorway you will see what was not previously visible in your current circumstances.

In Christ
Debra Westbrook

Debra and ChloeRivers of Eden Ministry is called to challenge people to live a prophetic life of creativity, revelation and intimacy in Christ. Marvin and I look forward to hearing from you, allowing us the opportunity to minister in the grace and love of Christ in your gathering, church, home group or conference.  Currently we are planning a trip to Kenya in August in which we are looking forward to establishing new relationships with leaders for a Kingdom purpose. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter for more information if you would like us to minister in grace and glory. If you even want to donate to this ministry, here’s the Rivers of Eden link.

 

Sink, Swim, or Walk on Water? Which Will It Be?

arghhOkay, today is a new day. I read my Facebook wall and I am so tired of all the Christianese talk, Scripture verses and opinions on everything from the second coming to the performances at the Grammy’s. Right now,  I am just going to ramble and talk. In fact, I am just writing this out as I am thinking. Enjoy!

When did fear get into me that I stopped speaking what I know God is telling me to speak? When did I start feeling invisible as most women over 60 feel? It has got to stop and if it does not stop, I will fade into oblivion while I am still alive. There is a lesson in all of this from the Lord. You may not understand this post but if you listen with the ears of the Spirit, whatever age or gender you are, you will understand.

There is so much crap out there right now that people don’t know if they are coming or going. The cry of the heart in many is the same cry that David cried when he faced Goliath.

“Is there not a cause?”

So much more coming……………….

We, many of us, people in general, are letting fear lead the way. The way out is of that fear to get to that point where the overflow of life coming out of you is so strong that you can’t help but speak and not keep it in. That is where I am today and so I have found my path in the next installments of this blog journey.

Lots of prophecies came forth calling forth the mothers and the fathers. They are so desperately needed today to speak to the ‘stuff’ that abounds in many who have lost their way due to cultural crap that accosts their senses and dulls discernment beyond measure. Many partake of things, rolling with the crowd, without any sense of direction.

Wisdom says that many have lost their way, their bearings in the ups and downs of life. These ‘many’ are dictated to by a few who lead the way and say what is right and what is wrong through the lens of elitist privilege of having lots of money but little if any wisdom.

So much more to say but let me stop and get my bearing in my own way right now. I realize that on a blog, content may be king but in this case it’s more important for me just to flow and along the journey, something great will form.

In Christ, Debra

Creative Expression – The Basics – Believe and Receive

Christ in YouI am going to write a series of posts that I will refer to as ‘The Basics.” Just a few, to put on Riversofeden1 so as to be in sync with the focus and purpose of my life and ministry in Christ. It is always good to rehash some things at times to know why I believe what I do in my Christianity.

They said, “Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you’ll live as you were meant to live––and everyone in your house included (Acts 16:31 Message)

So they said, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. (Acts 16:31 NKJV)

  • To believe: to have faith in Christ; to entrust one’s spiritual being to Jesus Christ; to trust; to be persuaded; to place confidence in
  • To be saved: deliver, protect, heal, preserve; make whole; to preserve one who is in danger of destruction; to save; to rescue

I believe in Jesus Christ. On good days and bad days in my life, I believe in Christ Jesus. Believing in Him means that I am persuaded that He is God and is able to keep my life hidden in Him in my salvation, my wholeness, body, soul and spirit. I do not fluctuate in this. I believe because I am persuaded that He is who He says He is to me. This is not dependent on whether I feel it but I am persuaded in Him as the way, truth and life.

TrustIn saying this, I can navigate through life’s ups and downs, and ins and outs by being anchored in Christ, His perfection and His salvation, a gift freely given to me in grace through faith in the Son of God. Whose faith? Well, my faith can be weak some days and also hindered other days when life throws a curve ball. So, I lean into what He is and what He has done for me in the finished work of the cross. His faith, His life, His way – Christ in me, the hope of glory. I live my life in Christ.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 KJV)

Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 Message)

Salvation is not a one-time occurrence but also an ongoing journey in Christ. It is an ongoing process in the sense that I am secure in the reality of the person of Christ, while at the same time walking out and in my salvation. I am saved. Not a cliché but a reality. Salvation means so much more to me than culture makes it to be. Salvation is wholeness.

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together––spirit, soul, and body––and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23 Message)

23 May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together––spirit, soul, and body––and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 Message)

So, my salvation is real, established in my life, while flowing through my life – body, soul and spirit. I am saved to BE whole, not fragmented and segregated in life. Salvation re-members me into my life hidden in Christ, wherein I find my identity and purpose in life. I lose my life to find that I have a new life in Christ. This is a simple reality.

Truth Will Set You FreeSo if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ––that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life––even though invisible to spectators––is with Christ in God. He is your life. (Colossians 3:1-3 Message)

With all of this being said, I wanted to gently remind myself that I am in this time for such a time as this. Salvation gives my life meaning and depth in Christ. Christianity is a glorious adventure in Christ, in His love, His grace and His mercy. Selah.