A Young Man with an Ear to Hear – Part 5/5 – Sound Source

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15-17 HCS)

Jesus Christ holds it all together. From the smallest particle of energy to the majestic expanse of the universe, Christ holds it all together. He is the source through which all life flows. In the beginning was the Word, Jesus Christ, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He is the source of all life.

The source of all sound, that which is good, right, noble, creative, uplifting, and energizing is Christ and is in Christ. Yet, evil is all around us. In evil there is a constricted, discordant sound that penetrates the universe – a sound of darkness. This universal sound of evil exists, trying to exert dominion but Christ has indeed triumphed over all evil.

Goodness and love itself in Christ has not eradicated the sound of evil. It is still here, at least for now. The young man had a choice in what he wanted to hear. The reality of his life made him run in desperation to anything that would ease or totally annihilate the universal sound of hopelessness – “It is what it is.” He tried Christianity, being exposed to it as a young child but it did nothing for Him. To him, Christianity was nothing more than a veneer of God-speak lacquered over a non-essential form called religion. “Why bother?” he thought.

It’s true you know. Religion tries to cover itself with a facade of relevance but that only masks what it actually is – a sound source of laws and rules, devoid of life. But, Jesus is not deterred or dismayed by anything that seemingly stands in the way of reaching a person.

All along there was another sound building in the young man. He often thought, “There’s got to be more than this.” These words flowed through his DNA, a small glimmer of light and hope amidst the intruding darkness. Reality held him captive to the universal sound but hope somehow managed to find a way into the young man’s heart.

Every young man has an inner resolve to live life to its fullest. Yet, we all know that this is not often how it is. Life, with its inevitable chaos, often made the young man feel as if he was not actually in charge of his destiny. He felt that somehow a source outside himself was pulling him in different directions. He often felt off-centered.

He felt somewhat at a standstill in life. Caught between the tension of bad and worse, he had to find a way out or submit to the fact that this is what it is and life will never get any better than what he saw all around him.

Christ seeks a relationship with young men everywhere. The mundane form of Christianity that we often see today does not limit Jesus in reaching a person. What do I mean by that? Christianity at large packages Jesus Christ in many predictable ways: go to church, hear a sermon, accept salvation, join a Bible study, listen to uplifting Christian music, blah, blah, blah – these are robotic contrived life patterns that the young man simply refused to submit to.

So what’s a God to do with this? Well it is not that hard. God shows up in unique and diverse places to meet us right where we are. The Living Word, Jesus Christ, sounds forth in love to draw all men to Him.

 To a prophet:

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations–– that’s what I had in mind for you.” But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me. I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!” God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’ I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there. I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it. Don’t be afraid of a soul. I’ll be right there, looking after you.” God ‘s Decree  (Jeremiah 1:5-8 Message)

 In a palace:

God gave these four young men knowledge and skill in both books and life. In addition, Daniel was gifted in understanding all sorts of visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17 Message)

 In the middle of the night:

God called again, “Samuel!” ––the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy (1 Samuel 3:8 Message)

 On a dusty road:

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. 6 I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next (Acts 9:3-6 Message)

 By a fishing boat:

When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coworkers with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him (Luke 5:9-11 Message)

Can you see? It is quite clear that the drawing sound of Jesus Christ is a reality that pierces the darkest of situations. He speaks in many different ways and in many different places. He finds those He wants to find with a pinpoint accuracy. Why is that?

“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you (John 15:16 Message)

Divine Love in Christ chooses you. You do not choose Him. He draws you to Himself with grace, and love and goodness in the midst of the violent upheavals of life. It is His faith, the faith of the Son of God, which draws you to Himself. He loves you.

He shows you who you really are, your destiny, and your future in Him. When you least expect it, He sees the time is right and reveals Himself to you. That is what you are looking for right? You want reality – not Christian hype or the façade of religion. You want reality. You want Christ and may not even know it. But, He does.

I have confidence and assurance that young men (and young women, old men, old women and all in between) will hear His sound above all other sounds and will draw them to Himself. He who is the one, the way, the truth and the life.

So this young man who I have been writing about. His circumstances seem to dictate that nothing good will come out of His life. It seems that he is lost amidst the mundane. It appears that hope is fleeting and faith is waning day by day. But, Jesus Christ knows that life is meant to be lived in His grace and His truth. And, He knows where the young man is and He knows where you are. Right now. He is the door to life. Just enter in.

In Christ, Debra Westbrook

DebraRivers of Eden Ministry is called to challenge people to a life of creativity, revelation and intimacy in Christ. Marvin and I look forward to hearing from you, allowing us the opportunity to minister in the grace and love of Christ in your gathering, church, home group or conference.  Currently we are planning a trip to Kenya in July in which we are looking forward to establishing new relationships with leaders for a Kingdom purpose. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter for more information.

Imagination – Creativity

Imagination – creativity; vision; inspiration; inventiveness; ingenuity; originality; innovation; fascination; passion; curiosity

I am all of the above. I can say that now but could not always say that. Fear paralyzed me, subdued me, and trapped me in its grasp for so long that I lost Debra along the way. This past week, after years of being a Christian, I had this ‘aha’ moment during a time of worship. Suddenly I knew that grace shifted my life to actually be this woman whom Christ called me to be, right now.

Creativity in Christ – my mandate and my mission in life. Yet, as I preached it, wrote it, thought it, and tried to move in it over the years, I did not really feel that I had actually grasped its understanding in my own life. When people questioned this burning passion in me, not quite understanding it, I felt rejected and alone. Worse yet, I felt that I was not taken seriously somehow and that this was a superfluous message in the Body of Christ.

Over the past 6 months, Jesus has been showing me through His word, visions, dreams revelation, and experiences that His vision in me is for such a time as this. I know that many out there are like me, creative types who think differently, express uniquely. Many have been hindered by fear. Others have been ousted in subtle ways from being creative in the Body of Christ. Still others take their gifts and use them where people will appreciate them, not in Christianity, which is often viewed as lackluster and boring.

The life of Christ in and through me is a path of truth, where creativity abounds in diverse ways. I want to gather with others who don’t limit Christianity to just words but employ visual expression. There is a bit of this right now in the Body of Christ but I don’t believe we have even scratched the surface of what is yet to come. When people came to our Rivers of Eden meetings, sometimes they just didn’t get our message and did not get us. So unfortunately, I turned to accommodate their acceptance of me and became what I was not created to be. Those days are over. Thank you Lord so very very much.

Jesus was imaginative in His expression of the Father on earth. His unique style of ministry is the launching platform for creativity in the Body of Christ. The Gospels are diverse and varied and unique in the style, form, and passion of Christ. To focus on Paul and the Epistles brings us into an awakening of grace and its freedom in Christ. But now, I want to look at Jesus – how He moved to the sound of heaven in the Spirit. As I said in the last blog, I am on this journey right now before your very eyes. It is not static but moving. The ministry that God gave to me, Rivers of Eden, has floundered for many years, trying to break out, break through, and be released into who He has made us to be. I have hit closed doors while other doors slammed in my face. I waited for God when there seemed to be silence. Is what I heard actually from God? Is there a Rivers of Eden?

I have my answer. Yes Rivers of Eden is alive but in need of being deconstructed to be built up in Christ Jesus, anew and afresh. Now I will walk in His way. Creativity, imagination, passion, the arts, music…………………..it’s a journey to explore creativity. Of course, I can’t do all of this. My call is to gather, to mentor creative people, to write, to live, to love, and to……….I will leave this open-ended. I see in the Holy Spirit. I hear the Holy Spirit. Writing more on this journey of creative expression in Christ day by day.

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!

Risk and Adventure – Speaking from Outside the Walls

quotes-on-adventure-2Religion is like going on a cruise. Once onboard the ship, you enter a no-stress zone where life consists of preplanned and prepackaged activities. You only need to sit back and take it all in for 3-10 days. Decisions are limited so that you can relax and not be subject to any risk or adventure. They’ve got it all under control. You fit into pre-existing templates for your pleasure and enjoyment.

As a passenger, you simply choose from the available menu. Do I want the first seating or second seating at dinner? What excursion do I want to take tomorrow? Some people like that. I’ve tried it.  I don’t like it. I am a woman who loves the journey with all the risks that may come into play in traveling away from the predictable establishment. I would go so far as to say Christianity itself is a creative journey of risk and adventure. That is exactly why I left the church as it currently exists. I don’t like cruises. I like adventure. I am looking and I am searching for Christianity again outside the walls of the church.

When we moved out, which is what this blog is all about, we encountered raised eyebrows and great concern that we would backslide. How is that possible with Christ in me? Where am I backsliding to anyway? Leaving the form is not leaving Christianity. I want to go outside the walls of predictability to find those who are seeking a city, whose builder and maker is God, not man. Christ building His church, His way by the Spirit – formed by revelation, not information; that is the desire of our hearts.

223972_10151088773563692_380605007_nThis is my life now and I love it. Perhaps you don’t understand this at all. It may be because you need to equate Christianity with a form, a building, something to see, to grasp hold of, or to measure. That is not for us. It never was for us. The tension of all those years building up inside of me finally makes sense to me now.

I love the adventure and the risk of listening to the Holy Spirit speak to us to move out, to travel, and to journey. My heart is grounded in relationships, strong solid relationships of accountability we have formed in Christ over the years with many different people. My life is formed in adventure. The Holy Spirit has taken us around the world. I have lived in the Middle East. Finland is another place I call home with our residence visa. I have traveled to so many nations over the years. I am full and alive in Christ.

Where to go? What to do? Unfortunately, as we tested the waters and visited a few churches over the past few years, we were often met with suspicion and caution, as if we were spiritual terrorists trying to overthrow the existing structure. Or we were asked to fit in so they would know who labors among them. They would give us a chance when they could fit us into some template of their understanding. Gheeessh! Oy vey! OMG! We don’t lose hope for the church. Christ is in control. But, we do totally believe that it cannot go on as it is in its current condition. Change is in the air! Open your eyes to see!

Hebrews 11:9-10 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. NKJV

onesdestinationI am in the world, not of the world. I live in promise, destiny, and identity now – Christ in me, the hope of glory. My eyes are looking in a new direction, outside the box of conformity. My eyes see that others are out here with me. We are not wanderers at all but travelers, looking for that city where the foundations are laid in Christ, not man. I am looking for that which is built according to Holy Spirit, according to the revelation of a heavenly blueprint from God. When I find it, and I will find it, I will see a habitation for His glory, a place where He dwells in His people and the overflow of this will be His Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven. Perhaps Marvin and I will be directed to build such a place again. The Spirit will show us in the days ahead. For right now, I am called to write and transition through some things for 2013. But, 2014 is right around the corner. Where will we find ourselves? Time will tell. 

There’s Got To Be More – Speaking From Outside The Walls

images-11 The reality of ‘coming out’, there are good days and there are bad days in the realm of your emotions. Perhaps you may be thinking ‘Then why did she leave?” Or you may be thinking, “I can relate to that”. Or you may be thinking nothing at all; just listening because deep inside of you, you are thinking “There’s got to be more to Christianity than what I am seeing or feeling”.

“There’s got to be more.” That is exactly what catapulted us outside the walls. Please read my first post to follow along more clearly. It will give you greater understanding in why I am writing all of this, at this time. I am going through this time of transition with the end in sight of a new fresh day for Rivers of Eden and us.

Just because you are out of a formed and formatted church environment, does not mean you are home free to complain, to whine, to gripe, to be angry or to be bitter over what was done to you or what you experienced. My other blog is dealing with forgiveness and going forward in freedom and wholeness.

During this time, God was dealing with my heart, going deep into my heart. He was unveiling not only the outward emotional tirades and passions but the inner motives of pain and woundedness that needed healing. None of us have arrived. We all go through something. Let me give you some examples. This blog may be a bit longer so please follow along with my gut level honesty.

The times of aloneness that we found ourselves in were quite painful. They were wilderness times in our life. These were times where, day-by-day, we were being presented with the same question from God. “Am I enough?” Some days He was, and some days He was not to me. This is a test in fire for our lives. Some days the pain was so hard that I cried for long intervals. But, but, but going back into the form of church never was an option for us. That had been put to rest. Going back into a form and a religious format, void of presence and spontaneity of the Spirit, was not an option for Marvin or me.

bookThe reality though was that I even felt alone in the midst of the congregation before we even stepped outside of it. Loneliness is prevalent today among many Christians. Religion builds a shallow foundation dependent on outward display and the heart is never touched or freed to BE in Christ. People go through the motions week by week just to perform some religious routine, yet they are empty inside and wounded and hurting. Go into many churches. There are needs based messages abounding. That keeps the church very immature. Rarely does one see the reality of Christ in union with YOU being preached. I am not against the church. I am for Christ and the beauty of His movements in and through His people, following and listening to Holy Spirit in organic form and flow.

There also often came great rejection from people thinking we were rebellious or completely wacky and insane. Many believed we were angry and independent. Let me say this, loud and clear. I was angry. Anger was something God was dealing with in my life. I am not angry now. We would have left the church form anyway because it seemed so empty and shallow at times. Here is something I recently wrote on Facebook, which pretty much sums it up.

Okay many of you have gone through this but it hit us from a few angles today. The statement spoken to us: “Well it appears that you have been wounded and are still angry at the church so I will pray for you that God heal you.” Ever heard that? Not trying to start anything here.

There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. When truth hits a system, the system reacts through the same old lines of defense like the statement above spoken to many others. In reality, anything that confronts the norm is in turn confronted by statements that try to downplay the problem and to divert the attention to the speaker. Come on.

I am not angry. And I know that many of you out there are not angry either. So please stop labeling people as angry just because they say things that confront and challenge things in Christianity that are simply not working.

God was dealing with us on every level but that does not negate the simple fact that the church, in its current condition is a mess. God is dealing with the mess because of His great love for us, but that does not deny the fact that it is a mess, in need of massive reformation and restoration. So many are leaving out the doors that we have to look good and hard at the why’s of the problem. It’s quite simple. In many cases, Jesus has left the building and man is now in full control. In saying that, there is no alternative but to leave, at least for us.

jesus_center-448x220So here we are in Southern California, looking for a true place of grace and glory in a New Covenant reality environment. We don’t want 24/7 prayer, or IHOP similarities. We don’t want templates cloned after someone else’s revelation. We know what we don’t want. But, we can’t find what we want. We want to see a place that is truly a habitation for His glory. We are equippers called to move out and travel, not necessarily to build, although God may say otherwise in the future. There is a ground swell of people rising up who want the same thing. At some point in the future, connections will come quite clearly. But as for now, we wait and trust.