Sounds Within Sounds – Speaking Truth, Bringing Healing and Confronting Contradictions Part 2

Stephen had a clear, distinct sound come forth as he gazed upon Jesus Christ in glory. He spoke and His sound exalted the reality of a risen Savior. This sound was antagonistic to a religious Pharisaical mindset. They gnashed their teeth with furious frustration while stopping their ears, unable to listen to the sound of heaven.

Visual representation of a soundwaveWhen they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. Acts 7:54-58 NKJV

Stephen spoke truth, confronting contradictions with every word.

“You stiff- necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it (Acts 7:51-53 NKJV)

Then he lifted his eyes and saw the Lord. That enraged the religious system and contradicted their sound. The religious system in this time lived in an atmosphere that refused to truly SEE or to truly HEAR. These words came forth as light in the darkness. The darkness could not comprehend it and was enraged by it so it caused them to react by stopping their ears. They did not want to hear. They refused to hear.

AwakeThe sound of heaven empowered Stephen’s words. Stephen’s eyes focused on the revealed glory of God. He could not deny the preeminence of Christ. He could not do anything other than speak the sound of heaven itself. Every fear paled in light of God’s glory. Fear simply faded in the presence of love. He could not do anything but speak. And, in the face of imminent death, He focused on Jesus.

Let me bring this into today, into my own life, perhaps with a spiritual application. When speaking forth the marvelous freedom of grace in Christ, I confront the contradiction that exists within a religious sound. What does this sound do? Even today? It gnashes its teeth trying to defend its doctrinal position with accusatory words on social media. Then it gets worse. When the sound can’t be handled, it closes its ears and rushes forward to basically try to stop you and kill your voice through slander and opposition on all sides. Its goal is to kill or keep us silent. Yet, how can we not bring forth a sound that flows in the glory of Christ? In continually exploring, studying and praying through this grace message, I can only say, “Yes.”

As I continue to spend time in the Lord, studying Scripture, worship, and praying in the Spirit, I am not being tossed around by wave after wave of constant Christian noise. I don’t lose my focus on Christ in me. I discern the sound of love, grace, freedom, mercy, abundant life in Christ and so much more in everything I listen to in this time. Let us discern the sound of today. Listen carefully to hear whether it is bringing you life in the Spirit of death.

As I encountered a grace awakening over these past few years, after a long time being in the mix of everything charismatic, prophetic, experiential, I began to turn to solid teaching that would enhance my life in Christ in truth, in grace, in Good News, in life, in New Covenant. It was a new sound at first and I was a bit apprehensive as religion, even in the form of the charismatic or prophetic stuff, tried to stifle me and pull me back in various ways. I kept thinking, kept searching, and kept finding Jesus around every turn, in portions of Scripture that opened my eyes to see something fresh and new.

Is Jesus really that good? Yes.

What was I thinking all these years – performing for Him, trying to get His attention, trying to add on things to my salvation in order to grow in Christ?

Grace is solid, real, sure and true but let me say that it will confront contradictions within first and foremost with the purpose of revealing Jesus Christ in and through you. Along the way I read some great books and learned from some great people that you may be interested in at this time.

Paul Ellis blog – Escape to Reality

Paul Ellis – The Gospel in Ten Words

Bertie Brits – Dynamic Love Ministries

Andrew Farley – The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church

Andrew Farley – God Without Religion: Can It Really Be This Simple?

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!

A Clear Sound in Christ

TruthIntimidation enslaves us within a prison of fear where we feel threatened, bullied, harasses, and subdued. When words are used as a weapon to silence us, they paralyze and take our breath away. We gasp for air at times, losing our voice, losing our sense of who we are, what we believe. It takes courage to stand up for what we believe in. But, is there any other way? To constantly compromise by appealing to the masses leaves one divided inside, lacking unity and wholeness. To constantly look around before one speaks trying to step in sync with a current sound is not necessarily wisdom but a fear of man.

I am going to reference yesterdays blog – digging a little deeper in what she said in the first paragraph.

Speak the Truth
Frances J. Roberts

“Lo, I say unto thee, be not intimidated by anyone, but speak forth My Word, even as I give it unto thee. Ye have written freely and fearlessly. Now speak in the same way. Thy spoken word must be brought into conformity with the work I have done within thee. This ye need for your own personal sense of unity. This ye need for your own strength. For the house divided against itself cannot stand; neither can ye so long as ye bear one testimony in thine heart and another on thine lips. 

In other words, speak the truth, no matter what it costs. And if you can’t speak the truth, t stay silent, waiting in wisdom for the right time rather than walk in presumption and end up in a war of words. It all goes back to when to speak and when to be silent.

The Truth Will Set You FreeWords frame our life – our own words (For as a man thinks, so he is – Proverbs 23:7) and those of others. Words are meant to build up, even if they are strong words. Wisdom helps us see what to take in, what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. Wisdom will not be silent and looks for those who can handle the heat in order to speak truth in the person of Christ.

Intimidation makes us cower and hold back and in the process, we lose ourselves and our voice. Not a good thing for any of us.

In my salvation there is wholeness, a unity in Christ, the life of Christ forming my life, my thoughts, my being. The Living Word  forms me in His image, imparts to me mind of Christ and transforms me in His divine nature. The truth (the person of Christ) sets me free. I am not a parrot and neither are you. His creative expression is to flow freely through our lives. Yet, look around? There is continual opposition to silence Christ in me, the hope of glory. So, what to do? Speak the truth despite the cost. Truth is in the person of  Christ. It is not vague and nebulous but contradicts the prevailing sound of the world, in true love, empowered in abundant grace.

Today, one’s voice can be silenced completely or lost amidst an ocean of information and social media noise. I believe that the sound of the Kingdom, moving contrary to the world while being in the world, will sound forth through many in this time. It is and will be a sound that will not cower when confronted by lies or deception. Truth is moving right through the lies and deception to forge a clear path in the midst of darkness. Truth in the person of Christ, the reality of His salvation and the message of the Kingdom is clear, filled with the fresh breath of the Spirit, and so contrary to the confusion today.  The world waits for a clear sound and many will be drawn to this clarity of conviction. But, we have to speak, know when to speak, how to say it and ultimately pay the price for our words. Many simply don’t want to hear it but who can resist speaking forth the glory of Jesus Christ.

Words overflow around us. Information increases in leaps and bounds. Opinions escalate and force their way in to be heard. Yet, truth is in the person of Jesus Christ – this sound will never be silences and can never be extinguished no matter what kind of opposition comes against it.

Speak the truth – not in quantity, but in quality of life that flows through us in Christ. This sound change nations, revitalize cities, transform people and raise up a standard of life in a death culture.

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!

Speak the truth, Or Say Nothing at All?

I have a book – “Come Away My Beloved” by Frances J. Roberts. I’ve had this book since the early 90’s but it was written in the 60’s.  Set in a devotional format, this book speaks to the heart. Along the journey, I wrote dates, thoughts, and words of revelation within its pages. So many times, Holy Spirit directs me back to read something again. Here is something for today. Some of the words are written in a thee and thou style but look beyond that and be encouraged.

The Truth Will Set You FreeSpeak the Truth
Frances J. Roberts

“Lo, I say unto thee, be not intimidated by anyone, but speak forth My Word, even as I give it unto thee. Ye have written freely and fearlessly. Now speak in the same way. Thy spoken word must be brought into conformity with the work I have done within thee. This ye need for your own personal sense of unity. This ye need for your own strength. For the house divided against itself cannot stand; neither can ye so long as ye bear one testimony in thine heart and another on thine lips. 

Thou art not pleasing Me, but trying to please men. They will detect the inconsistency in spite of your best efforts, for in one way or another, the truth will break through. Ye need not say all that is in your heart, but ye must speak the truth or be silent. If ye cannot bring yourself to speak the truth without apology, then speak nothing.

Let the life and witness of Jesus Christ be your guide. If ye are willing to attempt to emulate His honesty, I will come to your aid to give you wisdom also; so that the answer may be not only true but forceful. For ye wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen opposition of satanic forces. These may at times be arrayed against thy soul even through thy dearest friends, so that ye may have to reply as Jesus did to Peter on one occasion. (Mk. 8:33)

Set not out upon a mission to convert the world to your convictions, but rather to hold you own convictions inviolable against the forces of the opposition. I will be with thee, and will keep thy mouth. Trust me”

As we walk through life, we are not alone. Greatness has preceded us and greatness will come after us. Many came before us, imparting great wisdom in revelation through their encounters and experiences with God. Many more will come after us. We are all on life’s journey in Christ, each of walking in a unique destiny and calling. We all have something to give as the creative expression of Christ Jesus in the earth today. Let’s glean from those who came before us, never lifting ourselves up in pride or arrogance to believe that we have it all, know it all, and that there has never been a time like this.

Read and enjoy this today. I will blog over the next few days some thoughts from this wonderful devotional.

DebraIn Christ,
Debra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DebraIn Christ
Debra

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

Creative Expression – Invisible Women – To Be Seen Or Not To Be Seen, That’s The Question

Do you ever feel invisible? Seriously. Do you ever feel that you can be in the midst of a crowd, your family, your friends and suddenly you realize that not only do they not see you, but they don’t even know they don’t see you? Ever been there? My own life is taking a turn this year. In the midst of this growing transition and inner frustration I heard this condescending remark, “You should just get a hobby.” Not a good time to say that to me.

Several months ago, I kept telling my husband that I felt invisible. A recurring picture flashed before my eyes. Parts of my body were disappearing as I looked in the mirror. About 3 weeks ago, I saw a book on Amazon. Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray. I was not even looking for a book like this. I did not even know a book was written with such clear and astute humor to address this phenomenon and to assure me that I was not alone.

Jeanne Ray wrote this at 60 years old. What can I say? It is great. It should be mandatory reading for families, churches, leaders, and friends of women over 50. It’s awesome. It’s fiction, filled with subtleties that make one burst out laughing and realities that make one cry. This book is a Godsend to me.

I relate to her in every way. It is real. It is very real. In my particular situation, a woman minister, over 50, and over 55 and almost 60, I sense that older women are the ‘new lepers’ in the church at large. Heck why not let me say that it is a reality for women of my age in general. End of sentence.

You know, I (or we) can do something about this.  Instead of shrinking back as a fading wallflower roaming the aisles of Walmart or  worse, becoming a dissatisfied, angry gritch charging forth with offense and sarcasm, we can make ourselves seen. Seen – not by force, or pride or a rotten attitude. It’s more than that. How? By being ourselves and seeing ourselves before we expect others to see us. They may never change. I can’t do anything about that. But, I can focus on me, the ‘me’ inside that is still alive in every way. The ‘me’ that walks in grace and humility, responding to condescension with a smile (most of the time). Or how about the ‘me’ that won’t get angry each time I am looked over and around but not at?

Here’s just a quick ‘aside’ for a moment. See the cover of People this month? Wow, look at Christy Brinkley at 60 after 4 marriages and 3 kids. They exalt her ability to look good ‘at her age’. There it is. That subtle comparison to what? A 40-year-old? A 30-year-old? A 20-year-old? How contrived and manipulative.

Maybe it’s just me? I have nothing against looking good but come on – there’s got to be a better way. So now my goal in life is to avoid being ‘me’ and somehow to strive to be just as good, fit, healthy, youthful, or ______ (fill in the blanks) as someone else defined by the media. Just as good – a comparison in and of itself. They don’t say it. They never say it but implication is evident by just looking at the cover. What if I want to be as good as ME? If you want affirmation, don’t look to the media. Please don’t.

Thank God for God. God, the ultimate emancipator, the consummate lover of women, proclaims, “Be free. Be released. Just BE!!!!”

And, He is saying, “Enough is enough.” I may not stop this invasive onslaught to annihilate my God-given identity as a woman of God over the great age of 50, no 55, no……okay, almost 60. But, I can ride the wave of speaking life and release to myself in Christ and to those wonderful gals coming after me.

Here is a great Facebook posts.

And another.

Just one more.

Let’s confront the heart attitude that must accompany this release. When I feel invisible, I feed into the norms of the culture at large that dictate my identity based upon my age or gender. It’s a double whammy. Age and gender – over 50 and a woman. So much condescension has been leveled at me over the years of being in Christian ministry. Yes, there were many men and women that supported me but there were more that tried to shut me down at times.

Invisibility permeates a woman’s life because culture at large, in many places around the globe, simply disdain women leading to everything from sex trafficking to prostitution to inner wounds of depression, anxiety and fear.

God has been teaching me a lot over these past few years regarding this subject. To actually be seen, I had to see what it was really like to be invisible. I had experience after experience in life, showing me that no matter what I did or said, people were not listening to me. I lost my voice. I lost confidence. I lost ‘me’. I did not even know why. In fact, at this conference that I just attended, a woman got up, came over to me, put her arms around me and said, “You have lost your voice. The enemy has tried to shut you down for many years. But, God is restoring your voice, sending you to the nations to speak and declare His words.” That one came from left field like a hurricane force wind through a woman of grace and glory. It was at this moment that scales dropped off my eyes.

So what do you think? Any comments?

I will leave you with a quote from the back cover of the book.

A mom in her early fifties, Clover knows she no longer turns heads the way she used to and she’s only really missed when dinner isn’t on time. Then Clover wakes up one morning to discover she’s invisible – truly invisible. She panics even more when her family doesn’t even notice a thing. Her best friend immediately observes the change, which relieves Clover immensely – she’s not losing her mind after all! – but she’s crushed by the realization that neither her husband nor her children ever truly look at her. She was invisible even before she knew it.

Clover discovers that there are others like her, women of a certain age who seem to have disappeared. As she used her invisibility to get to know her family and town better, Clover leads the way in helping invisible women become recognized and appreciated, no matter what they role. Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

In Christ

Debra Westbrook

Please 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 me on Facebook or Twitter.