Open the door! Pull back the Curtains! Let the Light In!

Freedom in ChristThe darkened areas of our lives, those places filled with fear, memories of abuse, sexual addictions, emotional destruction, substance abuse, alcoholism – all those places are like rooms yet to be opened in a house where Christ dwells. He sees them. We see them. We know they are there but we won’t confront their reality, let alone open the door to let the light of Christ into these dark areas.

Even as Christians, there are these dark areas or internal rooms that need the confrontation of divine love to be healed and to be set free. Yet, we avoid pain at all costs. We worry about what others will think.  We wonder if God can be trusted. We don’t like suffering. We want what is easy and we love what is fast and doable. But that is not authentic Christianity. That type of Christianity is tailored to a Western mindset.

There is increasing chaos and darkness in the world. At the same time, the glory of the Lord will rise in His people. It is essential that as Christians, we face our own darkened areas, submit to the Lord, and receive healing and deliverance  in order to shine brightly in the earth. Receive His love and allow Him to deal with our lives, to reveal and heal those areas that are hidden in those darkened rooms.

In those dark areas the curtains are drawn tight, held in place by shame, guilt and condemnation. The truth of God’s grace and mercy in Christ wants to flood the room with light but we won’t open those doors. Therefore, we remain in the shadows of half-truths and subtle lies perpetrated by the enemy, keeping us bound, not trusting God.

CrossJesus Himself calls you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. He calls you to be habitations of His glory, shining bright in His presence.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 NKJVS)

There is a simplicity in Christ that is missing in the church today. It is hidden underneath layers of cultural add-ons that work in the world, fueled by man’s wisdom, but have no power in the church. We thrive on process – the unending path of needing more than Jesus – more conferences, more books, more seminars. In all of this, the Body of Christ is still immature and lacking in supernatural power and authority.

What would happen if we actually believed in the Gospel message, walk out the truth revealed in the Epistles, allow the Holy Spirit to lead and believe all that God gives to us in Christ? The church would rise up to BE in Christ instead of some other form and template.

To confront the evil outside of us with the authority and supernatural power of God, we must confront any evil within.  It time to grow up and allow God to change us from within. Going deep, not wide.

Keyhole

As Christ confronts us in love at our deepest level, there is pain. We will suffer in the flesh, which always tries to maintain its position, avoiding any pain or suffering, but we will be alive in Christ, free and filled with greater measure of light and life.  Submit to His way. It’s worth it. Walk in the light, as He is in the light and the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us, empowers us and sets us free. Open the doors to the closed rooms. Let Him in and He will heal.

Quiet down. Get a journal, a Bible, a pen, a computer, the beach, the couch…wherever…just be still, know that He is God and the simplicity of the reality of Christ Jesus is real. I am not trying to oversimplify this in any way, but there is only so much I can say in a blog. I know pain is real. Yet nothing is greater than Jesus Christ. He is all in all. He is faithful in all things.

DebraIn Christ,
Debra

I would love to bring life and light in Christ Jesus to your gathering, your church or home group. Contact me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. Enjoy reading about Rivers of Eden and the Timeline of our Life!

The Journey Part 3/3 – Grace To Navigate These Times or What Now?

Jeremiah 29:11Fear can grow in me when I choose to be present looking at reality as it is, not as I want it to be. Is it a fear of being in the moment? How about a fear of fading into the facts of the current situation? What to do?

Faced with a situation that just IS I can panic and run away. There are more ways to run than I can imagine. I can run emotionally into denial, not accepting God’s way for me, even as it involves a measure of pain. I can run physically away, changing locations or moving. I can even run away spiritually, not wanting to look at God, thinking He doesn’t have my best interests in His heart. Look around, lots of people are running aren’t they?

Faced with a situation that just IS – I can also sink down into discouragement, feeling lost and trapped. I live life from a subdued place of hopelessness, thinking that it will be like this forever. Thinking that nothing will change, I resign myself to suffering without purpose. There is always a purpose to suffering.

Submit to the process. More importantly submit to God’s hand holding me in a place where I don’t necessarily want to be. His ways are good, right, purposeful, meaningful, justified and filled with love and grace. Like a good Father, He sees the end from the beginning. He knows process is essential for growth and maturity. Since when is Christianity all about ‘me” anyway– my desires, my wants, my needs? There are numerous verses that support suffering in this mix called life. Life is kaleidoscope of it all – joy, peace, suffering, freedom, pain, hope, mercy and love, lots of love – shifting and changing as we journey through each season.

Jeremiah was speaking to a people intent on getting out. He said, “Settle in.”  At this point, there are very few choices. Obey God, even when you can’t see the whole picture. Don’t fight the process. You will end up constantly stressed and strained in life. Jeremiah did say, “Settle in.” He also went one step further than that. He said “Bloom where you are planted. Live. Love. Grow.” (My words.) Not only submit to God but also submit with joy. Ouch!

So what now? There are three ways that work for me when I don’t want to do what God says to do but I love Him so I submit to His plan. He’s a good Father. So, settle into the present and trust Him. It’s all about seasons. Seasons change and this one will too but there is something to learn here and I don’t want to miss it. I can’t always get what I want.

So, in the day-to-day how do I go about this?

Be PresentBe present in the moment, in submitting to the way, His way. Don’t dwell upon the ‘what if’s’ or ‘what was’ – look at the ‘what now.’ Doors will open while walking in the present moment. These are hidden doors in the Spirit, doors that open as I mature in wisdom and grace. They are readily available to all of us but many simply don’t see them because they refuse to submit to these times of refining. Jesus encountered many opportunities on His way to the cross – the woman at the well (John 4:7) and the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20), to name a few. His life was filled with a keen sense of seeing through moments of time with the eyes of eternity. At these moments, while in submission to His Father’s will, eternity invaded earth. Be present. Allow Holy Spirit to draw us into the present where creative opportunities await where heaven will invade earth.

IMG_5508Focus on the Way, the person of Jesus Christ during this time. Focus. I may be unsettled but His way for me is sure, filled with light and life. As I walk in sync with Him, like the guys on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), my eyes will open to SEE. Just walk and listen. This is a great time for listening. I don’t settle into passivity, apathy, or inertia. I settle into Him and He is moving in my life. Day by day, He shows me how to navigate the NOW by establishing my coordinates in the Spirit. He gives me wisdom concerning this time, if I listen. He leads the way and I follow. The next season is on the horizon. I keep my eye on it while being present. Time differs for each person. Don’t look at anyone else. Look at Him. He knows that NOW is part of my process into my next season. Just keep walking. Focus establishes hope again and hope does not disappoint. Hope grows and passion stirs in each step of our journey. Don’t run, don’t fear – submit to the process.

Be Real IMG_5508Be real. He can handle it. My emotions go up and down along the way. I am not robotic or cloned. I still question, get upset, and cry. Religion confines me to clichés. Here in the now, clichés are broken in an atmosphere where my authentic life is developing. I can’t say what I don’t mean. I say what I feel to a Father that loves me and does not disregard my weakness. In my weakness, He is strong. I don’t like this. I’m not happy. Isn’t there another way? I’m angry. This hurts. I can’t handle the pain. Keep walking. Express your emotions to Him but don’t let them stop you. If they are so intense, just lay down on the floor and let it out. He can handle it. He’s our Father.

There are seasons in every Christian life. In these seasons, we draw deep from the wells of our salvation, giving it new depth and meaning that enhance our life’s purpose in the coming days. I can’t say that each step on this journey has been easy. Just yesterday, I was in a ‘mood’ wanting out, wanting to get away, wanting life to be a bit different. Then after brooding for a bit, I began to worship and talk to the Lord. He was right there with  me things changed over the course of the day.

So how long does one find themselves in this place of settling? I don’t have an answer for you. I wish I did. Unlike Jeremiah’s day, I don’t think it will last 70 years. It could be a season of a few days, a few months, or a few years. He knows. Each of us is quite unique and different. Just trust Jesus in the process. The purpose of process is rooted in relationship and intimacy in Christ and there is no formula for that. Be present. Be focused. Be real.

IMG_5568In Christ
Debra

What’s Love Got To Do With It? (2)

Freedom in ChristIn its pure expression in Christ, love is strong, challenging, graceful, confrontive and quite messy.  Love is not static but dynamic. The strength of God’s love flowing through the Body of Christ is often devalued by leadership through compromise and a fear of man. It is diluted in its expression when leaders try to always please people. If there is a fear of people getting offended or losing membership, love is sidetracked from its essence, speaking words that lose power. The world is looking for authentic Christianity.

Christians, in trying to look or sound like the world in order to win people, trying to be culturally relevant, actually lose the essence of power and authority which flows through the reality of love. Love is messy. Love laid the path to the cross for Christ, a messy affair that brought salvation for us. Love is costly and Christ paid the price for our salvation and freedom. We rest in that perfect reality but love indeed produces suffering in our lives in Christ. It is best we not toss the word ‘love’ around so lightly.

The Body of Christ is weakened and devalued in power and authority through a misunderstanding of exactly what love is in Christ. The world desperately seeks authenticity, which the church is sorely lacking in measure. We can’t express love outside of Christ in God. God is love and His love is expressed in Christ through Holy Spirit. Looking to be culturally relevant has stripped the church of the gifts, speaking in tongues, power ministries and deliverance of demons from peoples’ lives.

There are wonderful churches out there that walk in New Covenant reality, expressing themselves through community. They are few and far between. This community flows in power and authority, with true leadership helping people grow into maturity through the expression of love, which is multifaceted in the Body. What that means is that as we gather, we gather to express truth that is gentle and soft as well as challenging confronting – all formed on a foundation of love. Love is not mean or rude but neither is it compromising or easy to hear. Offense abounds everywhere. People are threatened by truth, labeling it as judgment so as not to digest any part of what is being said to them. Leadership is in need of great change and change is here and is indeed coming. Church, as we know it and knew it, is over. What is coming? We will all see in time as it changes in form and expression.

Right now, so much of the church, seems bent on pleasing the needs of people rather than seeking the heart of God and walking in His will and ways, whatever the cost. I am not intent on generalizing here only to state the problem but to look for a solution for us,  stating relevant observations, challenging us to realize that Christianity is costly. Jesus paid the price in full for our freedom. I marvel at that revelation. In turn, that revelation embeds itself deep into my being. I am then willing to walk in a love that takes risks. Love that does not risk being misunderstood, rejected or persecuted is actually no love at all.

Here’s an example of compromise and fear in the name of love.

I was in a meeting some time ago where a woman kept interrupting the meeting. Her need of attention was obvious, along with her deep-seated anger due to circumstances in her life. Words often betray one’s heart as it did hers to me that day. This is where accurate discernment comes into play. What does this woman need to get free, not to be pacified in the midst of her bondage? And, how does one do this in love, walking in wisdom and grace. Knowing when to speak, when to be silent and as a leader, when to correct and challenge to maturity.

People gathered around her to pray. I was told that this often happens so it became obvious that there was a need in her to cause confusion and take center stage. Over the years, I saw this over and over in leadership.

Back to the story. The leader wanted people to pray for her and minister to her with love and compassion – their perceived idea of love and compassion. Yet, this turned out to be love coated in a fear of man. As I watched them pray, I saw that it grieved God’s heart for He wanted her to be free but it would take some words spoken in love’s strength that would shift her into a new place where she would have to make a decision. She would either receive or get offended. It was her choice and once made, leadership would then handle it accordingly. Right now, leadership just perpetuated the problem due to this fear of man.

Leadership gave her a great challenging word to change to be free. She rejected what people were telling her, telling them outright, she was actually okay. The leader then apologized for his word to her. How is this down? Quite easy. With qualifiers that dilute true power and authority. He said something like “Well, this word may be right. I am not sure. Please pray about it. I believe God is saying this but if it does not bear witness then just discard it.

TruthOh my! Why even bother? There was so much qualifying being done that it appeared to be full of mercy and grace. BUT, it was actually full of fear – and in fear there is little faith and even less change.

In subsequent meetings, she did the same thing over and over – interrupting and trying to interject confusion into the meeting with her needs.

Now for some intense honesty here. Over the years, I didn’t always walk in love. That is why God is revealing love’s strength to me today in the midst of my heart healing. I was angry and that came out in my preaching and prophesying. When confronted with this anger, I swung to the other side and tried to be merciful, not confronting, not challenging, thinking that I must learn to be more loving. It did not work. I had to learn about love by looking to the expressions of Jesus as He focused on the Father.  I see love as strong, clear and awesome as well as soft and gentle and tender. I will risk misunderstanding and rejection to focus on growth and maturity in people speaking in love. But,  I will not imprison love within my contained definition. Love is life and love flows – all in its multi-faceted expression.

That was just one example above on a small scale but it shows my point. The strength of love is to be shown in and through leadership without fear of man or people pleasing. Love takes on many different forms and expressions. Look at Jesus………..the creative expression of His Father in heaven, living and moving and being in love.

May the strength of love empower Christians to risk reputations, honor, finances, and even ministry to walk in an uncompromised love of Christ. To love the Body of Christ so deeply and to love people so strongly that we desire change and maturity so that the Kingdom is advanced in greater measure throughout the earth.

In Christ,
Debra

DebraIf 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. Marvin and I realize that there are times when small groups of people do not have finances to bring us in. We will still come, as Holy Spirit leads. Just pray and ask.