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.

Why Creativity?

creativityCreativity, creative expression, moving in the Spirit – these are my topics for the next ten-twelve days in the blog challenge. I want to mix it up a bit and focus on a topic that is close to my heart.

My friends know I am an avid fan of Project Runway, blogging about the lessons that I learn while watching it. I observe the extraordinary creativity that flows through the contestants. I am not as concerned about who wins, but about watching the creative process and flow.

I always try to listen to the sounds of a creative beat, so I attended an apparel design program for many years. Unfortunately, I quit the program right before I finished the last classes that were required to get the certificate. I draped, I sewed, and I sketched. I loved it. To this very day, when I look at what someone is wearing, I can take the garment apart in my own head, analyzing the pattern and structure. But, I quit. Why?

About the time I dropped out of the program was around the same time that I became a Christian. To me, the two didn’t mix in my heart or in the religious heart of the church. Fashion design seemed a bit insignificant. I sold it all – my machine, my serger, my fabric and everything else. I even used God as an excuse to people, telling them that He told me to just sell it all. You know, that suffer with Jesus routine that forms the foundation of religiosity. There is no one to blame. I made the decision. But, why?

I did the same thing in university. I wanted to go the route of the arts. My dad wanted me to do something with more substance, like teaching and nursing. So, again, because of external pressure and deep insecurity and guilt, I caved and walked into teaching. After graduation, I taught two years to discover a simple fact. I didn’t like teaching, at all.

1288452919_w30I wasted so many years, trying to be what I am not. Trying to fit in to who I am not. Then along came Rivers of Eden, our ministry. Through this ministry, I tried to do the same thing – listen to the voice of external pressure to be, fit in, conform, and follow the pack. Obviously, if you have been reading my other blogs, this definitely did not work. So, now I say “Absolutely not.”

In blogging these next ten to twelve days, I am blogging about my creative journey in Christ. Our mandate in Rivers of Eden is to BE the creative expression of Christ in the earth, today, right now; all of us diverse, unique and creative, flowing in the Holy Spirit. To this day, there are three of us on our team that are walking on a new path, creatively, outside the box and outside the walls of the institutional church. Follow me on this journey in this blog. Aren’t you sick of being templated into another person’s vision? Aren’t you tired of robotic, formed religion? I am………………..Walk this way!

More Robots, Clones, and Templates – Speaking from Outside the Walls

ImageYou are the creative expression of Christ Jesus in the earth.

Colossians 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. NKJV

Endless creativity in Christ. Endless expressions of form and substance but yet all founded and centered on Jesus Christ and Him alone.

Colossians 1:16-18 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. NKJV

These are beautiful verses of truth in Christ. Jesus Christ is our example. As we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal Him to and through our lives, we will enter a realm of limitless design and form here on earth. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

ImageWhy then is the Body so mundane and conformed to the world in our expression? Why do we always try so hard? Why are so many seeking to emulate another ministry, another leader, and another movement? It is easier to follow a prescribed template of someone else’s revelation than to seek something unique and expressive for us. Fear keeps many from moving out – fear of losing finances, fear of losing denominational endorsement, fear of losing people, and fear of losing respectability just to name a few.

Using a template that another iconic ministry has formed and developed may be easier but it will also consistently kill creativity in you. Ease of use is death to the creative process. Creativity takes time to BE in His presence to SEE His glory and to FLOW in His way. We rise into a growing revelation of our being seated in heavenly places. We flow forth in expression and Holy Spirit led form and function. More to come.

Speaking from Outside the Walls – My Journey

ImageHow to start? Let’s see. This is my journey outside the walls of the institutional church. This experience may not be for you, but it is mine. It is a journey that started in 2000 when God simply told us to leave the institutional denominational church where we served in a leadership position.

Qualification: We did not leave Christianity. We were not rebellious or independent. We left in obedience to God’s word to us. It began a glorious journey of joy, sadness, grief, healing, rejection, acceptance, love, anger, and total brokenness that forms our life right up until today as I write this blog.

We are now outside the walls, so to speak. Outside in the sense that we don’t attend a church every Sunday. But, we are looking and visiting, asking the Lord for a place where we fit to give and receive life from other believers.

Another qualification to forgo persecution from this blog:  I am not against the church and whether one meets in a cathedral, a home, a park, a coffee shop, or an office. The form is changing and we discovered that when we left in 2000, we wanted to be part of the change that God is bringing worldwide.

Last qualification before I get into the ‘stuff”. By writing this, many leaders will write me off perhaps calling me uncovered, not accountable, or some such thing. I am speaking this now to untangle myself from the assumptions people have of me and what I am and what I am not. I will write in an unscripted honesty to be free and to move out in what God has called Rivers of Eden to be. Let’s start.

I can remember the day discontent began to rise up in my spirit. It all began when the cry of my heart went something like this:

“If I go into the city, I will die. If I stay here, I will die. So I have to move up and out, but where?”

Where was that in Scripture? Oh yes. Here it is. It may be a bit obscure to some but the story sounded a lot like my own heart cry.

Image2 Kings 7:3-5 3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We will enter the city, ’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.” 5 And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there. NKJV

That was how I felt. If I went into the city, the current condition of the church, there was a famine. Building on form and formality and fear of man, there was little if any actual flow of Holy Spirit. If I stayed where I was in discontent, looking at the church, standing outside the walls, I would die in a place of tension. The only answer was to move out. But where? It was scary being outside the walls. Religion had trained me up so well. I did all the right things. I said all the right things. Looking back. Looking around. Looking forward. There really was no alternative to moving out.

Little did I know then what the journey would entail. I thought everyone would understand. They did not. I thought I would still maintain relationships that I had in the church. I did not. I also thought that the ministry to which God called me would continue to grow. It did not. My journey begins right now. Thirteen years later, here I stand. So much has happened between then and now. Here goes………….