Imagination – In Christ

Ladder to skyChristian imagination evokes both negative and positive feelings in people.

In studying this each day. I conclude that Imagination is the connector between mind/heart giving us images, pictures, revelation – in essence, bringing heaven to earth. The mind and the heart, working together.

The Greeks thought that the mind was rational and good, discounting the heart/emotions as being less superior. As Christians, we know better as our salvation is wholly in Christ without separation and fragmentation. The mind/heart is as one and as Greg Boyd points out: The mind is the thinking side of the heart. The heart is the feeling side of the mind.

Discernment keeps us focused on Christ in the power of Holy Spirit and does not lead us astray into error. Christian imagination – pictures and images formed in our mind/heart and as our lives are surrendered to Christ Jesus. Our minds are renewed and being renewed and our hearts are turned to behold the One we love in all His glory…………the veil is lifted off in Christ and off we go in complete freedom of expression and thought of heaven now

I am starting out on this journey wholly focused on this subject in all ways. I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water simply because the new age has adopted visualization techniques. How absurd!

So excited! This has always been in my mind/heart but timing is everything.It is time now to raise up a creative force in the Body of Christ. How? One step at a time. When? Now.

Processing day by day. Enjoy Creative Declaration and Courage in All ways – Especially Being Creative

DebraIn Christ, Debra

Rivers of Eden Ministry

The Vision & The Revelation

In 1998, God breathed this ministry into my life while on a plane 30,000 feet up in the air, flying from Atlanta to the San Francisco Bay Area. Rivers of Eden is a ministry birthed in the heart of God and graciously given to Marvin and myself for such a time as this.

Genesis 2:10-14 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Rivers of Eden flows from the Garden of the Lord, flowing out from the Tree of Life, Christ Jesus. Today, these rivers of life flow from our lives in ministry – Christ is in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27); we are in union in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). Jesus as the Tree of Life is the source of life for us.

The four rivers are:

Pishon – ‘flowing freely’
Gihon – ‘stream’
Hiddekel – ‘rapidly running water’
Euphrates – ‘rushing forth’

The number 4 indicates ‘universality’.

All together, this is significant for us because it means that we will bring the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ in the power of Holy Spirit throughout the world, bringing people into the revelation of His grace and glory.

In Christ, we live, move and have our being. These rivers, flowing in abundance and grace, flow forth with life out of our bellies as living water. (John 7:38)

 Debra & Marvin Westbrook – Our Lives

From its revelation in 1998 to the present time, Rivers of Eden has been growing, slowly, surely, obscurely, hidden for the most part, but nonetheless known by God and carried within my life.

Over the years, Marvin and I have walked through seasons of brokenness, healing, restoration, dryness, rejection, and more to learn a valuable lesson. Surrender. Surrender to Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life, to His will and to His ways so that He is glorified in our lives.

Holy Spirit leads and directs us on our path throughout the earth in ministry, into places where God has destined us to be. Our lives are sourced in Christ.

(If interested, please read Our Timeline to become acquainted with our life’s journey over the years.)

Colossians 1:27-29 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. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Our Mandate & Our Mission

Our passion is to raise up a people who will live, move and have their being in Christ, as His creative expression in the earth today. In other words, we are all unique, individual in Christ, and corporately placed in His Body to display His grace and His glory through our lives. Whether that be preaching, educating, parenting, administrating, being in business, flowing in the arts, musical, artistic – each of us live in creative expression in the Lord, not as robots or clones.

Our passion:

  • Equipping people – preaching and teaching through the lens of grace in a New Covenant reality while honoring the whole Word of God as it points to Jesus Christ.
  • Flowing in the power of Holy Spirit through prophecy, revelation, words of wisdom, words of knowledge as it builds up, encourages and exhorts the Body of Christ.
  • Demonstrating the power of the Gospel through laying hands on the sick and bringing deliverance and freedom to God’s people.

466987_385067658200058_340338782_oIn Christ,
Debra & Marvin Westbrook

Creative Expression – He Is Enough

Note to Self: You are EnoughThis is a journey. The dream in the previous blog will help you understand what I am writing here in this blog. When God decides to get my attention, He gives me a dream. Why? Is it because that is the way He usually talks to me? No, I rarely dream, so when I do dream, they are detailed and accurate. I pay attention to my dreams.

My dreams answer questions, those questions that are moving like a deep current under the surface of my life. Those questions that I can’t even articulate but I know that they are stirring within me and need to be answered. At those times, I am looking at God. He is looking at me. I have no words but He hears the cry of my heart. The yearning that says “Jesus I don’t understand.” The silence that says, “I don’t know what to do. What do I do?” The tears that say, “You are there, aren’t You?”

Back to the dream – I stand and look back into the house. There they are; all the people who hurried back in, sitting with their groups. Here I am, standing on the outside. I turn and look in the other direction for that is what God is clearly saying to me. The path is not exactly clear but He knows the way. I seem to know that to get through this narrow door (Read this blog please) I will have to lighten my load, getting rid of excessive weight that holds me down and ties me to the past. I wholeheartedly agree it is time. Now is the time.

What weighs me down? Past hurts, wounds losses, rejections, insecurities, and fears. Does that cover it? Yes, I think it does. This time it is real and it is essential for the journey ahead. There is no way to get around it. As a Christian, it is time to stop playing games and get real, at least for me. That means a journey of honesty and confrontation. Enjoy this journey of honesty with me. I can lay it all down so that I am freer and freer and you can walk this out too.

Walking one step away from the house, I hear the Spirit of the Lord say this to me, “You, Debra, are a a woman with a strong sense of justice.” These words shot through my heart awakening me to their truth. Just a few words in one sentence confronted a big reality in my life and how I perceive things. This strong sense of justice wanted to run back into that house and begin to rail at all those people with their pride, their arrogance, the presumed condescension, and their obvious rejection of me. I wanted vindication and a sense that a wrong could be made right and they would see that I was somebody. But, that strong sense of justice was one thing that had to go to lighten my load in this journey.

You see, this strong sense of justice to make people see that they have hurt me was unintentionally binding me to the past and this deep need for closure. Unfortunately, life does not always bring closure. Our need to be righted when wronged or our feeling of entitlement for wrongs done to us does not always come but there is a better way. Justice for all the wrongs done to us is settled on the cross. It is finished. I see that all that I have held onto in my life has been seen by Jesus – my hurts, my sorrows, my pain. He has healed them in His life, for me. He died so that I have life in Christ. If I do not see that the life I live, I live in Christ, then I will continue to seek vindication for wrongs done to my life. This sense of justice formed my life and kept me looking to the past. Now I see, I will lay some things down and pick them up no more. It is finished.

creativityLeaders whose words of condescension cut me like a knife. I stand and say, “It is finished. I forgive.” Many who looked past me or around me, believing that I just did not have the ‘goods’, while I was willing in my heart to give all I could to bring them to the glorious reality of Christ Jesus, I stand and say, “It is finished. I forgive.” There are so many more situations and people who I can talk about today but I believe I get it right now and I hope you do too. To walk away into a broad place, a new vista in Christ, I lighten my load of what I have carried for so long. The case that I have raised against them has been closed this day and I do not seek vindication of retribution of any kind from any man. It is a great feeling within me. Honesty is wonderful and when you have nothing to prove, you have nothing to lose.

This is a spiritual journey for me, written not in analytical form, but in a creative supernatural way. Through dreams, visions, and revelation from the Word in the Spirit, I write this blog for this is my life. I see that now. See this in the Spirit and hear by the Spirit what I am saying here. This is the beginning of a new path in Christ, one that I have waited for these past years. Religion died in me so that intimacy in Christ and relationship with Him lives in me. Enjoy this journey with me. Walking away from the house seems a bit easier now after this blog.

What about you? I know it may be hard to share in-depth things right here, right now but I would like to hear from you. Thank you for any encouragement you may give to me, but I would also like to hear your heart.

Our Quirky Finland Adventure In Christ

Finland Snow

Finland Snow

I am a bit behind in the Blog Challenge for October, but I will finish well. I have been writing a lot about Creativity and about the direction our ministry, Rivers of Eden, is going in 2014. I don’t want to go deeper into my thoughts on creativity yet, because I want to focus on that in November. So for the rest of this challenge, until October 31,  I am going to write spontaneously about things I have learned while living and traveling abroad for the past 10 years.

Let’s start with Finland. My husband and I  have a residence visa there – a second home to us. It is beautiful, but not always easy to live there.  As darkness encroaches in the winter, you have to have a strong temperament not to suffer some sort of cabin fever. If you are a transplant from California, which we are, I often found myself  looking for the sun. At times, I felt paralyzed by the heavy cloud cover which seemed to press down upon my life day by day.

So people ask us many many many times “Why Finland? Why are you in Finland?” They often look at us as if we are a bit quirky ourselves to choose a nation like Finland. But, they usually do not know,  until we tell them, that we did not choose Finland. God chose Finland for us. Whoa!!! Please stay with me here. I hope I don’t lose you. Let me explain.

IMG_0408In 2002, three of us were praying in our living room and we heard God speak “Go to Helsinki.”  (Christians do hear the voice of God which can lead one on glorious adventures. This is normal Christianity and for those of you who think that is a bit strange, well, it’s true. God does speak to His people) Keep following me okay? I never wanted normal mundane Christianity and believed that if walking in the supernatural was normal in the New Testament, it is normal for me in my life. Anyway, back to the living room.

In prayer, we heard the Holy Spirit say, “Go to Helsinki.” I did not know anything about Helsinki at the time. We were excited to believe God would take us on a wonderful journey, so we continued to pray for the next three months about the trip. Were we complete crazies?  Yes and no. I mean, it was a stretch but I am a bit of an extravagant Charismatic at times. I go wholeheartedly into anything I do for God, so I just jumped in faith at this trip. Nothing deterred me, not even the funny looks we got from so many people in California when we told there we were going to Helsinki. You can’t even imagine how many Americans did not even know where Finland was in the world. Scary thought guys.

God was gracious to us, being our first time and all. He assured us over and over that this was Him speaking to us about Finland. When we were assured that this was a ‘go’, we bought our tickets and flew to Helsinki, Finland, for 2 weeks. During that time, all we did was pray, walk the streets, talk with people, and experience the nation. We got on a train from Helsinki to Oulu (almost the top of the world folks) and prayed all the way up and all the way back. I loved the adventure. Yet, prayers just shot up to God without a response is a bit boring to me. So I expected God to speak to us. He did not fail to disappoint. He talked to us in visions, dreams and revelation for our whole trip. I was hooked. Finland became a part of my life, and still is. What next?

Snow Forest FinlandThrough a series of events over the past 11 years, too numerous to mention here, Marvin and I took one step at a time. Doors opened, doors shut. We rented a total of three different apartments. We obtained our Finnish ID number. They placed us in the system with healthcare. And here we stand today – called to this nation, loving this nation, and looking with great excitement to what the future holds. (I have traveled throughout a lot of the world and have many stories of God taking us into places to pray and meet people. More will be coming.)

Walking in the SnowAnyway, after years of ups and downs, learning and making mistakes, I know that when God puts a nation on your heart, you love the nation and its people no matter what they do to you, think of you or say about you. So I am heading back in one week to spend time in prayer with our small team for Rivers of Eden to figure out our next step in Finland. This past year has been spent in California but God has always promised us we would live in both places. Good stuff, guys. The face of the church is changing and I don’t want the same old boring stuff, churchy stuff, religious stuff. I want the creative out of the box stuff that fills me with passion. So off we go. It looks to be a good year. God’s in it all the way. It is a shift, a dramatic shift for us, incorporating our travels ministry and out of the box Christianity. But, I have been trained all these years for this. It’s time to walk.