No Plan B – Don’t Settle, Don’t Opt Out!

Jeremiah 29:11For those encountering ‘God’s delay’ in fulfilling a promise given to you years ago or seeing breakthrough in any number of areas, this blog is for you and me. God breathed the ministry of Rivers of Eden into my heart in 1997. Over all these years, seasons of discouragement filled my life when I was so far away from any semblance of the promise. Many times in the midst of great regret, I railed at God for being less than faithful to me. I cried deep tears wondering if this life as it existed was all I could ever dream for or hope to get. There is so more but all I can tell you is that I went though so much stuff, like many of you.

In all these years the vision of Rivers of Eden has never died within my being. It seems like this promise is interwoven into my framework, my DNA. In times where I wanted to walk away, I realized that no matter what I did, my heart was set on the promise given to me by God. It was today, while driving, that I realized so clearly that I never wanted a plan B. I never opted out no matter what came my way. His grace sustained me in the journey, even when I did not see Him or feel Him in the slightest way.

There is no glory in plan B for me. In fact, there is no plan B for me. Only Plan A – the promises of God, as He spoke them to my heart, alive and flowing in me out to the nations.

Now having said that, I also want to say this. Plan A does not work itself out like we think. The way I thought Rivers of Eden would flow is not the way God saw it flowing in my life. So His Plan A is different from my perception of Plan A. His seed of promise is growing in me and I tried to work it out my way, in my time. Now, I see He is faithful to His way in His timing in His wisdom.

So for those reading – don’t settle for anything less than what God promised you. No matter how long it takes to see fulfillment. No matter how far away you seem to be from it, don’t settle. As God aligns your vision with His, and as you hear His sound, rest in His way and release what you thought into His process. Eventually passion and joy will be infused into your life as you realize that you are not forgotten and something greater than you can imagine is upon you, unfolding one step at a time.

Why am I so encouraged right now? Well quite simply, I just watched a movie today called “Mr. Holland’s Opus.’ I’ve seen it many times but Holy Spirit kept prompting me to watch it again with spiritual eyes and ears open to receive.

Here’s a brief recap of the story. Mr. Holland has a dream – to write his symphony, his opus, as a composer. He thinks about it all the time. He works on it all the time. Then, life hits – bills to pay, baby on the way, house to buy, job needed…you see the picture. Life has a way of distracting and diverting us from our dreams.

He accepts a teaching job but over the years, his involvement with the students increases to the point where his symphony seems to take a place way down on his list of priorities.

All through the movie, he deals with regret, loss of vision and discouragement. He feels he is losing his passion and his dream in the daily outworking of his life. Yet behind the scenes something was happening that he didn’t see. Plan A was still being worked out, but not the way He thought it would come together.

It all happens in the last scene of the movie. He walks into an auditorium to find people, hundreds of people who are there to honor him for how he impacted their lives over the course of many years. While he thought his dream was dying, it was birthing itself over and over in the lives of people. They were his symphony, his opus.

The stage is full with an orchestra made up of former students. Their lives were his opus from years of of his encouragement, his patience and his love for each of them. But, he never saw it until that day. As he began to lead this orchestra in the symphony, his dream, his Plan A came forth in the sound of beauty, honor, love, respect and so much more. It came together, not in the way he planned it, but in a much greater way than he could ever imagine.

As for me, there is no Plan B. There is only Plan A fulfilling itself right now in the journey in God’s way in His timing. He is faithful to complete what He seeds into us. I will enjoy the journey, rest in His grace and walk step by step in His promises right now as He leads the way. I pray this encourages you in some small way today.

DebraIn Christ,
Debra

I would love to speak at your conference, gathering, church or home group. Contact me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. Enjoy reading about Rivers of Eden and the Timeline of our Life!

Fears Thrives in a Realm of Distraction

Fear is a liarFear thrives in a realm of distraction. Looking every which way, I can focus on all the peripheral stuff in my life, which then only enhances the debilitating effects of fear. Fear is like a cancer that creeps up on us, relentless and invasive. As it tries to set up its throne, it seeks to ultimately destroy my life and yours. That is its purpose. It is evil and only seeks to kill and destroy.

Jesus says it like this: ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJVS)

Peter says it like this: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NKJVS)

Simply ignoring this truth won’t make it go away for the enemy is relentless in his pursuit of getting our eyes off of Jesus Christ. Fear is one tactic enemy uses to try to destroy our life and peace in Christ.

While I don’t continually focus on spiritual warfare, preferring to keep my focus on Christ, I do accept this reality of it in my life. Fear is a liar. And, it does not give up that easily. Look around. How many do you and I see each day bound by fear? It is a killer of life. Anxiety, worry, depression – they are all the overflow of fear in so many lives all around us.

Benicia CrossRather then giving a quick shallow cliché or even attempt to provide an easy solution, I want to say to each of us today: “Focus on Jesus Christ.” I turn my eyes away from anything that easily distracts me. This is life, ongoing for me. I pull my focus back to Christ continually throughout my day and in my life.

I would like to say that the world will get better and we can anticipate a utopian paradise rising up soon. The world will live in peace and harmony, joining hands and singing Kumbaya. Nations will coexist peacefully alongside other nations. Wars, both internally and externally, will cease to exist because of the nobility and honor of people all across the globe. That won’t happen.

In transparency and honesty, I can only say “Focus.” There is way more chaos, confusion, and destruction coming our way. As a Christian, I am called to live in the world but not be of the world. I am affected in situations because I am human but I am not entangled in this life with overwhelming fear, anxiety and depression.

Fear must be faced head on so that it does not gain any hold in our lives. Running from it or denying it will not stop its invasive demands on our lives. To confront the enemy one must call out the enemy and then face the enemy. Strength and courage must rise up within us to know our lives are hidden in Christ.

My life is Christ. Whether I live or die is not the problem, I have already died and my life is hidden in Christ, now. Now I choose to live in Christ.

Fear kills – creativity, life, adventure, journey, process and more. I want to focus on some foundational realities in the coming days here on this blog. And it all starts now by acknowledging that the enemy will resist us on every turn as we try to live our lives in Christ. Here are some verses that are coming your way in future blog posts. The river is flowing. Enjoy the journey as I flow in this direction. True creativity in Christ arises within us as we set our minds on Christ, knowing our life is hid in Him. As chaos and confusion, disease, destruction or whatever else surrounds us on all sides, our life is hid in Christ Jesus. This is reality.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20 NKJVS)

Then He said to them all, “ If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 NKJVS)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things, which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 NKJVS)

Debra 2In Christ,
Debra

I would love to speak at your conference, gathering, church or home group. Contact me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. Enjoy reading about Rivers of Eden and the Timeline of our life!

Creative Expression – Without What?

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. What kind of faith? What does that mean? Do I have to work something up within myself to believe something to be pleasing to God? What if tragedy strikes and I simply fall apart and can’t believe? Am I pleasing to God? What if life throws me a curve, out from left field and I am not prepared to handle the stress simply because I am human? What if sorrow or discouragement comes? Does that make me less spiritual? What kind of faith is necessary to please God?

When my sister was murdered in 1980, I fell apart and crashed in the midst of the ‘why’s’ and the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘how come’s.’ I could barely breathe for a few years let alone have faith in God. I felt betrayed. I felt alone. So I hid out in the midst of life, pretending that all was okay. But, inside, I was falling apart. You can say that I had a crisis of faith. That would put it mildly.

I asked God all the right questions. It’s just that He never really gave me a satisfying answer. Why did this happen? It was hard to talk to anyone about this pain. Christians often retreat into cliches and platitudes when questioned about pain or sorrow that can’t be explained or Scriptured-out. The equation kept coming before me. Without faith it is impossible to please God. I had no faith therefore I was not pleasing to God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. There is more to this verse than just that.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NKJVS)

What is faith? At my lowest, I had none or at least I did not think I had. Yet God says that it is impossible to please Him without it. So what kind of faith is that? I had done everything I knew to do and yet, I simply didn’t have that mountain moving faith to get going and live again. Is there something more to this than meets the eye? It actually is quite simple.

The faith that God finds pleasing is faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Faith = a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.

The simplicity of faith in Christ for salvation is wholeness- healing – physically, emotionally and spiritually. The faith of the Son of God, who gave His life for me, is the faith that God finds pleasing. I enter into that reality. Faith in Christ when life is impossible. Faith in Christ when questions are not answered. Faith in Christ when I am so low that I can’t rise up. When I am weak, then He is strong in me. It is not my faith but His faith. I believe in Him and that is where the journey starts.

I can breathe and rest in Him. I stood in the simplicity of that revelation, trusting Christ with my life. I relinquished my ‘right to know’ or even understand to just BE in Him. If anger, fear or grief rose up, I stood in His grace and mercy and love. That is hard for us as humans to swallow at times. Life is not packaged into manageable components. Life is filled with unanswered questions. Life also gives us the opportunity to disdain God simply because there are these unanswered questions. Years have gone by since my sister died. My faith is active and alive and moving again. Why is that? My life still has it extremes and its trials.

My faith rests in the finished work of Christ Jesus, not in me. I live and move and have my being in Him. That’s not an easy way out. It’s the only way. Life moves and I move with it. I don’t cope. I live. I don’t strive. I rest. I don’t control. I abide. Christ is the way, the truth and the life.

When I write these blog posts, I usually want to come to a bit of closure. Then, I realize that is very unrealistic. My life is a journey. If, through my experiences, I can stir questions up in you, that is a good thing. I have always believed the purpose of the prophetic is not so much giving answers as it is stirring up questions.

In Christ, Debra Westbrook

DebraPlease pray and consider having Rivers of Eden minister in your gathering, home group, conference or church in 2014. This is our year of release wherever and whenever God opens His doors bringing His grace and His glory through us to those to whom we are called in this season. You can contact us on Facebook or Twitter.

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