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!

Present Moments, Future Promises – The Now & The Not Yet

Life is experienced within a divine tension between where I stand right now and where I want to be in the future, my not yet. Living in this tension is not always easy and sometimes in deep frustration I may want to escape from my own life. Over the past 10 years, while trying to build a ministry, I continually focused on my not yet times, discounting the beauty waiting to be revealed in the moments that were right before me.

This cost me friendships, unique life experiences that were right before me. But, I was driven, seeking a passionate pursuit of promises in my not yet future. Rather than waiting on God, enjoying the journey, I often disregarded my day, focusing ahead, in a hurry to get there. Looking back, I was filled with regret over what could have been that I simply did not see. There were moments hidden in my day to day that I bypassed looking for more important endeavors.

FlickrWhile I lived in Abu Dhabi, I focused on Finland. When I was in Finland, I focused on Abu Dhabi. When I was in the States close to my family, I was always thinking about something else. God revealed to me how often I was not in the moment. I was present but my mind was captivated by something else, always. I am very thankful that God does indeed redeem the time, making all things new, with fresh starts instead of false starts.

All along this journey, people kept giving me the same prophetic word, over and over, in various ways, through various people at various times.

Rest.

Debra, God says to rest.

Holy Spirit is teaching you to rest.

Those words became a thorn in my flesh because my flesh was concentrating on making ministry happen. I almost disdained that word – rest. Why? Because it hit my heart at a place I needed healing and I didn’t want to deal with it. It’s the same sad story for many of us. Trying to please God. Performing to prove ourselves to others and to God. Trying to win His approval. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to this constant pursuit to be accepted by God for how you perform.

Little Guy With PostitsI wanted to build, to grow a ministry, to find my place in time, to access my destiny. Along the way, there were many false starts as you can read from the previous blog post. I lived looking ahead, constantly. When God finally saw fit to shut it all down, I struggled with rejection, feeling abandoned and deep regret. Then guilt also set in trying to make it right. What a mess!

Rest, trust, abiding. I get it……….now.

Life is short on this earth. Keep the main thing the main thing. Never forget it. Life is filled with moments of hidden potential. Yet, they are lost if we continually focus and fill our time with the not yet in the future. Our focused pursuit of this not yet trying to make it happen or trying to get ahead leaves us completely bankrupt. Sadly, we don’t see it until some future point that we strive to get to achieve what we think we want. We find it only leaves us empty.

I thank God that each day is filled anew with His mercy and grace. I thank Him that there are second chances, third chances, fourth chances…..

All God’s promises will come to pass, in His timing and In His way. By faith I access the not yet future through spiritual vision. I walk day by day, looking at my horizon line, knowing God knows the way. Through visions, prophetic words, and dreams, God reveals to me great and glorious things for me to do now and in the not yet future. I walk. I live. I trust. Life is a continual journey, one to be explored, a great adventure. My life in Christ flows in sync with eternity’s divine rhythm while living on earth. That is Christianity at its finest.

Each day holds beauty, moments filled with astonishing revelation of His abounding grace. I accept the now times of my life, living each day to the fullest. I don’t discount the day, no matter how routine or boring life may appear to be. Life’s mundane routines hold the glory of Christ. There are moments in each day, which hold keys to hidden doors, waiting to be opened into wide places of opportunity. I open my eyes to see, right now.

The future is realized through walking in sync with God in my now. I don’t have to run to get there. It will unfold right before my eyes as I focus on intimacy with the Lord. I am learning to be content and in that there is great wisdom.

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!

Creative Expression – It’s Been A Long Time Coming!

NowPeter denied Christ. Paul persecuted Christians. Yet, there is marvelous restoration in Christ for everyone who receives Him.

And then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9 Message)

Before Peter or Paul captured the beauty of their life in Christ, they saw their own glaring frailties and complete failures. They each failed miserably. Then they encountered the reality of Christ. In their weakness, He came into their lives with awesome encounters. It was at this point – their point of absolute weakness – that they are awakened to their absolute need of Christ to make them whole. Things have not changed much for us today. In fact, it has not changed at all.

About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: “He’s got to have been with him! He’s got ‘Galilean’ written all over him.” Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him:” Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried. (Luke 22:59-62 Message)

The piercing eyes of Jesus, eyes filled with absolute love and mercy for Peter. Peter looks and is suddenly accosted by regret, guilt, and condemnation.

That set off a terrific persecution of the church in Jerusalem. The believers were all scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. All, that is, but the apostles. Good and brave men buried Stephen, giving him a solemn funeral––not many dry eyes that day! And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail (Acts 8:1-3 Message)

Paul brazenly defended his religion, without mercy and without regret.

Both of these men soon hit rock bottom. It was at that point that Jesus reveals Himself to each of them. His grace is made perfect in their absolute weakness.

Transformation comes with confrontation.

Peter’s revelatory moment.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. (John 21:7 Message)

Then he said it a third time:” Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:17 Message)

Paul’s revelatory moment.

He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. (Acts 9:3-5 Message)

Restoration flows through each life in the wake of revelation – the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. His mercy. His grace. Jesus comes to restore and make whole, anointing men and women for His purpose, not in their relevant strengths but in their blatant weaknesses.

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency:” Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight (Acts 2:14 Message)

He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. 6 I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next. (Acts 9:5-6 Message)

One day as they were worshiping God––they were also fasting as they waited for guidance––the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do. (Acts 13:2 Message)

There it is for me to see. Failure, utter failure, discouragement, regret and wholehearted restoration in Christ. This past year, in my own self-indulgence, always thinking about me, I discounted His love and mercy, His grace and forgiveness in my life. I often hurled accusations at my God for being absent, uncaring or an unloving Father. Over the past year, my faith in crisis, often felt like Peter standing close to the fire, blatantly saying, “I don’t know You.” I discounted all those past years when He met me supernaturally and loved me unconditionally.

Yet, today, after some God ordained supernatural days, transformation is flowing into my life. I did not ordain the time. I did not ordain the season. It is God.

February is a turning month for me. God spoke that to me, yet hope deferred blinded my eyes from seeing its truth and reality. Healing touches my heart. Hope is restored and faith gives me eyes to see what I could not see even 2 weeks ago. My encounter, my reality.

I failed miserably in many ways in my life. Yet, His grace is sufficient. I have stumbled and offended. I have allowed anger to rule my emotions. Yet, His grace is sufficient for me, in my weakness.

It’s been a long time coming. It seems as if scales are falling off my eyes to love and be loved. My spiritual voice is being restored with authenticity and honesty flowing forth. If you are reading this and have followed my journey, I would not be saying this just to have a good blog. God shows no favorites. He loves His children. What He does for me, He can and will do for you.

There are still good and bad days to come but here’s the difference. There were cracks in my foundation, blatant cracks in my life. I often felt like I have destroyed so many things – relationships and more – that there was no hope. Then while walking a few days ago, I kept thinking about Peter and about Paul. Jesus’ strength made perfect in blatant weakness. This strength is for me, right now in my life. Christ in me, the hope of glory. Seeing the reality of my life without Him. Seeing that I cannot go further in my own strength, I fall headlong into my own life. Then, He comes at that point and restores and renews and refreshes.

How did this happen? Well as I said, it is God’s unique timing and purpose. He led me to a conference where I encountered an anointing in the Holy Spirit. Hands were laid on me and freedom came. God’s timing. God’s way. Out of the cave, one step forward – in my weakness, He is strong. It could have come another way, but it did not. It could have come years ago, but it did not. It could have but His timing is perfect, NOW.

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. Feel free to contact us on Facebook, or Twitter.

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New Sounds Break Old Cycles!

Creative Expression – How Wonder……….ful!

As a Christian, I need, must have, a sense of beauty, majesty, wonder, and mystery when I live in Christ. My sense of being in Christ lifts me up above, allows me to walk in eternity now, and enjoy encounters that defy my understanding. That is Christianity – not just getting by each day as if the mundane is the destination on your journey! And, it is a journey in Christ!

This is where I am today. Several thoughts to give to you so that your spirit would be impacted with hope, encouragement and joy, pure wonderful joy. Here’s a word, one word to start this off.

You can’t carry loss, regret, grief or mourning into 2014. Leave it! Leave it! Allow God to heal and touch your life with joy, which gives strength.

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Despite anything life is throwing at you, live in joy, even in the midst of suffering which will come, not maybe, but will come at some points along the journey. Don’t mourn anymore! Cast off the grave-clothes and live! Prophetically, I woke up heavy in my spirit BUT as I prayed, worshipped and prayed in tongues, reading His word, a lightness descended upon me from above and rose up within me from Christ and I started to see.

Heavenly PlacesHere’s another word. I enrolled in a ‘goal setting’ class. Haha! Never thought I would do that. Even thought I was ‘above it.” Yet, I enrolled in it and this class is changing my life. In this class, He identifies having a ‘push goal” – one goal that acts like a catalyst to set in motion everything else. One goal to get you going and moving. When I sat and thought about it for a while, I could not actually figure out what that ‘push goal’ would be for me. Then I had this aha moment and I knew. And over the past few days, it is proving to be so true. Rather I should say, He, Holy Spirit, is proving Himself to be so awesome.

My ‘push goal’ – to start my mornings early and to spend my mornings with the Lord.

That is not religious exercise. That is glorious. I wake up; get my journal, praise, worship and listen. I even pray in tongues at times for a half-hour while I BE in the Lord. He fails me not. There comes a word, a vision, and a revelation into my spirit that reveals His beauty, His splendor, and His kingdom being worked out in me and through my life. He is faithful to BE with me as I BE in Him. ☺ You see, that ‘push goal’ catalyzes everything else around me. It fires up my hope, my faith, and my vision to see. Despite everything life throws at me, He is with me.

So here are my thoughts from this morning.

I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6)

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. (Colossians 3:1-3 NKJV)

Do you see how often we are pulled down? Just spend time on Facebook and it can and does often drag you down into the mundane, into confusion and more. Wordy debates in Christianity – grace, faith, love, and joy hope – everyone has an equal and opposing opinion. I am sick of it all. No one actually has it all right so I leave it behind, totally behind. Creativity is birthed in greater ways through my life when I spend my time with Him and my focus on Holy Spirit. There’s my way!

My grace awakening did wonders for me. It is healing all performance to DO for God in order to BE for God. Yet, I am now hungry again for the prophetic and the supernatural moving of the Spirit. My life is built on movement in the Spirit, going to nations, speaking prophetically into people’s lives, and more. Years ago, I woke up at 2 am in the morning to encounter an angelic presence at my bed, calling me forth in the prophetic. It has been a long hard journey.

Rivers of Eden in Marvin and I is alive. I did not think it was. I said it could not be after all the years of defeat and failure. It is alive. Not outside of me, but inside of me right here and right now. What does that mean? Well, only that Holy Spirit will open His doors in the coming year into nations, cities, and even coffee shops – one on one and to many. I simply trust in that AND that is enough for me right now. Let’s see where this journey starts!

Life is alive again because I washed up on the shore of my destiny, beaten, bruised, wounded, tired, empty, ohhhhhhh so empty! I know nothing except Christ and Him crucified. I desire to speak His words again over nations and into people. I was not ready before this. I thought I was but I was not ready. Deborah, the bee, is me…………..in Christ.

What about you? Are your dreams dormant? Or even dead? Trust me when I say that I have been there and know. How I know! I am not into religious or spiritual clichés. I love the reality of the Living Word of God weaving His dreams through my life.

Comments? Give me one word that describes what you want for 2014. (Haha – I actually got that idea from Chuck Pierce but I have also used it before too.) What is that one word?

Creative Expression – Gravity

This morning, sitting, just sitting. Nothing going on. No great thoughts. Just the simplicity of the stillness. I entered into that beautiful stillness in Christ and kept hearing this song, Gravity, which I have loved for some time now. Just the feel of the song. Its sound stirs something in my life. Its notes take me to a place where I feel like I am soaring, above that which can cause me regret, above that which can pull me down into a place where I don’t want to be, into anything that tethers or tries to hold me back. This is just some prophetic musings today. So why don’t you listen to the song and then just read some words of encouragement from my heart to yours.

It really is time to leave regret behind, any regret that tethers you to its expectations and requirements, demands or regulations. To regret is to consistently rewrite the script in your life that says you could have done it better or said it better or lived it better. What if you couldn’t? There are always others involved in the equation. What if you did all you could and you find yourself re-living it over and over and over? That is the effects of gravity. It pulls you back to that place of constriction, that place where you look up, knowing you were meant to fly but you are always tethered to something or someone or some place or some situation by the regret of what could have been but wasn’t, what should have been, but never actually got there. Is that you? Is it me?

Perhaps it is the overflow of this song touching my heart this day. These prophetic stirrings in my heart today are for you and me. Jesus Christ in me is bursting my heart wide open to allow this to flow, without any preplanned agenda but just a creative bent, a creative passion to do something different other than the mundane. So, out comes these words of encouragement for you and for me.

In Christ, I am seated in heavenly places, above the pull of gravity and its effects – the chaos of life, the constant disruptions to my forward progression, the effects that small disruptions have on my life day by day, things that just did not pan out. Yet, seated in Christ, opens up the vistas to see beyond what I can see when regret tethers me to its constant demands in my life. So, today I soar. Do you? I hope so.

I have lived in the box of demands for so long – what demands? Those demands that cried out from deep within that I, like you, have tried to silence, but they are still there until I realize that in Christ, I am above the effects of gravity, whether I want to believe it or not. That is why, even to this song, I can soar to its freedom sound in my life. It is a freeing sound in my life.

Who knows where this bit of creativity will take me? After all it is just a simple song that may mean nothing to you. But it stirred prophecy in me today to realize that you may be reading this and be one of those who struggle with regret. So listen over and over and simply breathe in to know that in Christ, you can be seated above it all, right now, right here. I present Jesus Christ to you to reach up, to raise up, to rise up – past it all into Him. He gathers and hides you in the shadow of His wings. That is reality. From that vista I can look down and see things quite differently. So right now I listen to this song again and open my arms and worship to something that was probably not intended as a worship song……..but it is for me. I love you Jesus.