What If? What Now? What Then?

Ever second-guess yourself? It feels like your focus is cracking right before your eyes. One minute you are so sure, so positive. The next moment, what was so clear suddenly seems distant and a bit fearful to you.

When I initially move out in faith, making a decision to follow God at all costs, I feel as strong as a lion, able to conquer the world. In an atmosphere of faith, I feel strong. I know God will supply. I know He will never leave me or forsake me. I also know that His ways are not our ways. Others may not easily understand the path He chooses for us. I know this. I truly do – in an atmosphere or faith, during prayer or worship.

But then…here comes reality. I walk forth and face the day. Here they come. Disturbing questions filled with doubt and fear, wanting to challenge my decision to walk by faith and not by sight. (Which after all is normal Christianity -walking by faith and all.)

What if?What if?
What now?
What then?

In that moment of decision to go for the gold, boldness rises up in me. What I don’t often see is that a new day will bring accusations to deflect my courage with fear and worry, trying to undermine my faith in Christ.

The next day dawns filled with exhilarating fresh possibilities. A new way, a fresh anointing, new ideas, a new move, a new adventure in Christ. I’m ready.

Suddenly, from the edge of my thought universe, doubt begins to sabotage my faith with penetrating questions. Did I really hear that? What if _____ (Fill in the blanks.) Oh my God, what now? What then? I begin to second-guess myself on every level.

Yesterday, I stood in an atmosphere infused with faith. Today? I doubt. Natural sight takes over and spiritual sight seems nebulous and vague. The very thought of what I heard the day before seems strange, out-of-place, unattainable. It sounds crazy to me. If I speak this out to anyone, they will think I have lost my mind.

Right now, I stand in the midst of a crossroads. Moving is upon us again, at some point in the near future. Our choices may be to go back overseas or conveniently move just a few hours down the road ALONG with every conceivable option in between. We don’t know but we sense change is upon us….soon.

This is not new to me. God keeps Marvin and I on the edge, trusting Him with our lives on every level. Yet, side by side with each renewed commitment of faith, to risk and adventure, comes questions of accusations from the enemy.

What if I move and nothing happens? Isn’t it safer to stay here and at least I know what I have here? But, what do I have here? What if money runs out? What if I heard wrong? (That’s a biggie!) What if this sets me on a course of no return? (Yes, it can get that ominous and bleak after a moment of an intense faith decision.)

If in any way, I bow to the ‘what if’ I then run head on into the next level of doubt, the ‘what now.’ This next level of challenge constructs a scenario of impending doom.

“This will cost you. What will you do when your retirement is gone? Settle in. Look for a job. Have a nice life. Play a little golf. Read some good books. Go see some movies. Soon you can even get the senior price. Don’t think so big at this point.”

If that is not enough, here comes another one as I continue to create scenarios based on fear, worry and doubt. Here comes the ‘what then?” After all is said and done, the ‘what then’ keeps implying that after my step of so-called faith, I am stuck, with no way out of the mess I created by presuming to hear the voice of God and actually trusting Him through it all.

“You have made your bed, now lie in it. Are you crazy? What do you think you are doing?”

Embrace the MysteryIn other words, once we walk out on this limb we are on our own. Don’t look for God to bail you out. What then? This decision can really cost you. After all, who steps out on an uncharted adventure after 55? Don’t I know that I should settle down and settle in to what the rules say at my age…………..retire, don’t take chances – so many lies, so very many lies.

Yet, there is a generation of adults like me that will not settle for anything less than what the younger generation wants – adventure and journey in Christ, living in the supernatural each day of our lives. Responding to the sound of heaven. Listening the beat of a different sound in Christ.

No, the young generation is not going it alone, thinking they can conquer the world because of their youth. (Even though prophecy after prophecy seems to say that.) I dispute that on every level. New levels of faith are challenging every age to move out in Christ into uncharted waters trusting Him with our lives.

The enemy uses doubt, anxiety, fear and worry to try to forge a path right in front of me. These accusatory questions try to accuse God – of His love for me and His great grace that empowers me to walk by faith, not by sight.

Our lives seems to be charted on a course of faith, led by Holy Spirit in unique ways and in diverse paths. We knew our time in Southern California was temporary. And, we knew that at some time, directed by God, He was calling us out to walk by faith in a new way. He is our resource on every level of our lives. Will we move back to Finland? Will we move to Texas? Or is there another direction coming that we don’t see right now? Time will tell BUT we refuse to listen to a fear-based scenario rising up side by side to our commitment to lay our lives down for His purpose.

Don’t second-guess what you believe you have heard from the Lord. Of course, there is a path of wisdom to walk out and test the waters that what you are hearing is indeed from God. I am not advocating moving out in emotions, presumption, assumption, sin, passion, lust or control.

His sheep hear His voice. It’s time to start trusting in His voice that leads us in His way. And that way may be off the beaten path of normality. Take it anyway.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

Debra 2In Christ,
Debra

I would love to speak at your conference, gathering, church or home group, or women’s retreat. Contact me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. Enjoy reading about Rivers of Eden and the Timeline of our Life!

Creative Expression – Invisible Women – To Be Seen Or Not To Be Seen, That’s The Question

Do you ever feel invisible? Seriously. Do you ever feel that you can be in the midst of a crowd, your family, your friends and suddenly you realize that not only do they not see you, but they don’t even know they don’t see you? Ever been there? My own life is taking a turn this year. In the midst of this growing transition and inner frustration I heard this condescending remark, “You should just get a hobby.” Not a good time to say that to me.

Several months ago, I kept telling my husband that I felt invisible. A recurring picture flashed before my eyes. Parts of my body were disappearing as I looked in the mirror. About 3 weeks ago, I saw a book on Amazon. Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray. I was not even looking for a book like this. I did not even know a book was written with such clear and astute humor to address this phenomenon and to assure me that I was not alone.

Jeanne Ray wrote this at 60 years old. What can I say? It is great. It should be mandatory reading for families, churches, leaders, and friends of women over 50. It’s awesome. It’s fiction, filled with subtleties that make one burst out laughing and realities that make one cry. This book is a Godsend to me.

I relate to her in every way. It is real. It is very real. In my particular situation, a woman minister, over 50, and over 55 and almost 60, I sense that older women are the ‘new lepers’ in the church at large. Heck why not let me say that it is a reality for women of my age in general. End of sentence.

You know, I (or we) can do something about this.  Instead of shrinking back as a fading wallflower roaming the aisles of Walmart or  worse, becoming a dissatisfied, angry gritch charging forth with offense and sarcasm, we can make ourselves seen. Seen – not by force, or pride or a rotten attitude. It’s more than that. How? By being ourselves and seeing ourselves before we expect others to see us. They may never change. I can’t do anything about that. But, I can focus on me, the ‘me’ inside that is still alive in every way. The ‘me’ that walks in grace and humility, responding to condescension with a smile (most of the time). Or how about the ‘me’ that won’t get angry each time I am looked over and around but not at?

Here’s just a quick ‘aside’ for a moment. See the cover of People this month? Wow, look at Christy Brinkley at 60 after 4 marriages and 3 kids. They exalt her ability to look good ‘at her age’. There it is. That subtle comparison to what? A 40-year-old? A 30-year-old? A 20-year-old? How contrived and manipulative.

Maybe it’s just me? I have nothing against looking good but come on – there’s got to be a better way. So now my goal in life is to avoid being ‘me’ and somehow to strive to be just as good, fit, healthy, youthful, or ______ (fill in the blanks) as someone else defined by the media. Just as good – a comparison in and of itself. They don’t say it. They never say it but implication is evident by just looking at the cover. What if I want to be as good as ME? If you want affirmation, don’t look to the media. Please don’t.

Thank God for God. God, the ultimate emancipator, the consummate lover of women, proclaims, “Be free. Be released. Just BE!!!!”

And, He is saying, “Enough is enough.” I may not stop this invasive onslaught to annihilate my God-given identity as a woman of God over the great age of 50, no 55, no……okay, almost 60. But, I can ride the wave of speaking life and release to myself in Christ and to those wonderful gals coming after me.

Here is a great Facebook posts.

And another.

Just one more.

Let’s confront the heart attitude that must accompany this release. When I feel invisible, I feed into the norms of the culture at large that dictate my identity based upon my age or gender. It’s a double whammy. Age and gender – over 50 and a woman. So much condescension has been leveled at me over the years of being in Christian ministry. Yes, there were many men and women that supported me but there were more that tried to shut me down at times.

Invisibility permeates a woman’s life because culture at large, in many places around the globe, simply disdain women leading to everything from sex trafficking to prostitution to inner wounds of depression, anxiety and fear.

God has been teaching me a lot over these past few years regarding this subject. To actually be seen, I had to see what it was really like to be invisible. I had experience after experience in life, showing me that no matter what I did or said, people were not listening to me. I lost my voice. I lost confidence. I lost ‘me’. I did not even know why. In fact, at this conference that I just attended, a woman got up, came over to me, put her arms around me and said, “You have lost your voice. The enemy has tried to shut you down for many years. But, God is restoring your voice, sending you to the nations to speak and declare His words.” That one came from left field like a hurricane force wind through a woman of grace and glory. It was at this moment that scales dropped off my eyes.

So what do you think? Any comments?

I will leave you with a quote from the back cover of the book.

A mom in her early fifties, Clover knows she no longer turns heads the way she used to and she’s only really missed when dinner isn’t on time. Then Clover wakes up one morning to discover she’s invisible – truly invisible. She panics even more when her family doesn’t even notice a thing. Her best friend immediately observes the change, which relieves Clover immensely – she’s not losing her mind after all! – but she’s crushed by the realization that neither her husband nor her children ever truly look at her. She was invisible even before she knew it.

Clover discovers that there are others like her, women of a certain age who seem to have disappeared. As she used her invisibility to get to know her family and town better, Clover leads the way in helping invisible women become recognized and appreciated, no matter what they role. Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

In Christ

Debra Westbrook

Please 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. You can contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Creative Expression – Time For Some Action, Don’t Ya’ Think?

“Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words. I get words all day through, first from him, now from you. Is that all you blighters can do? Don’t talk of love burning above. If you’re in love, show me. Tell me no dreams, filled with desire. If you’re on fire, show me.” My Fair Lady

Words Words WordsEliza Doolittle sang this song in My Fair Lady. She basically says “If you’re in love show me.” She confronts her beau’s excessive words which express his love for her, by exclaiming that words alone won’t cut it. There is not enough expressed and manifested action to back up the words. Like Christianity in many ways, don’t you think? At least that is what I think for my life today in my own Christianity.

Let me continue to connect the dots for you in this blog post. Follow along by reading this verse.

20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:20 NKJV)

I have been on one heck of a journey in my Christianity. Haven’t we all? After years of performing in religion and more years after that, I run from so much word based Christianity that I can’t see any movement of the Spirit. In case we have to remind ourselves, Christianity is formed in the word (the Living Word) and the Spirit. Both are necessary to be formed for a life in the Spirit. The kingdom – talk and walk.

I read this post by Sarah Bessey yesterday and I saw so much of my own feelings in it that I want to share it here. I loved her post. We may differ in many ways but the foundation of her thoughts seem to line up with my own beliefs.

I lost something. I am getting it back. I have been saying that for some time now but each day things get clearer and clearer to me.

Facebook is glutted with excessive words. So I went down my feed and simply unfriended many people, not out of anger or any emotion. I just don’t see the point anymore. There are so many words out there. Grace people, prophetic people, evangelical people, and more and more. As I have said before, my weariness in all of it has reached a point where I just want to be free from it all. Hence the need to purge my list and to be me, even if me is the only one listening to me or reading me. That’s good enough. I am not blogging to convery some irrelevant ideas but to share my life, walking down a path of life, that is taking me somewhere in Him, Jesus Christ.

Since when has Christianity built up on words and words alone? On understanding or needing to be understood? Since when has truth been deconstructed to a message packaged to meet the needs of people or to make them feel comfortable or more secure? Since when? The life of Jesus was so messy. He walked around making everyone feel uncomfortable but yet so unconditionally loved if they would take it.

I love life. I am a passionate adult. I was a passionate child. I am giving up all justification and explanation as to why I feel the way I do about some things. That hinders growth. That is also for treatises, or discourses and this is but a mere blog. I am a woman of the word and I seem to avoid speaking of my experiences or my life in the Spirit because I still fear that I will seem flaky. Hey, I am quirky but not flaky. And the way I see it, I am in good company with many other quirky people in Scripture.

What happened? I remember some years back going to Italy and just walking the streets of Rome, praying, praying and praying led by the Spirit. Or what about that Detroit trip that I took years ago where the Spirit led me into places and meeting people that made me feel like I was in the book of Acts. There were many more trips and so much grace and glory. What happened?

I feel this constant tension in me that I am learning to live with day by day. Great tension blog.

I still feel that I am being deconstructed to get to the basic of Debra’s. Great deconstruction blog.

I am leaving all the camps. The grace camp, the evangelical camp, the Baptist camp, the Pentecostal camp, the prophetic camp. I am not starting my own. Haha! I am detoxing from it all and looking at Jesus and learning of Him by the Spirit in this season. I am not anti-church. We are looking for one right now, a community in which to share our life and to bring life to others.

Why leave the camps? Because it’s the same ole’ same ole. All these grace guys….just that. All the guys…..need I say more. No woman. Hmmmm, I’ll stop there. God will make a way to get past that stuff. I love them.

The prophetic camp. I still love them. I am part of that quirky stuff, seen by many as detrimental to the health of all Christianity. Yet, I won’t be part of the incessant crying out for more, devaluing my positions and experiences in Christ.

I am generalizing, not judging, all of this but I know you get the picture. I feel inside myself there is still a tension, a God ordained tension, breaking the membrane of my limited vision and helping me to see again with new vision. I am fighting to find my voice amidst a world with lots of noise. It is essential for me and you to find our voice. What if we don’t? Well, I guess then I can spend my life on Facebook liking all the iconic people who simply say one sentence and get 100-500 likes. I can become a groupie who may only parrot ideas rather than voice internal conviction. A bit of sarcasm perhaps? I don’t mean to, but it is true.

I am not fighting for individuality at the expense of peace or rest but I am seeking my brand in Christ. I am seeing myself in Christ alone. That is not contrary to grace or an add on to dilute its message. Had it not been for grace, I would not be at this place of awareness? I am living in tension, yet in rest.

Just a bit more of my ramblings here. Tension is a good thing. Tension blog again. I am not at war within myself. It’s just so darn easy to fit in… and to be part of a rising template of clones. I can’t do that and yet I don’t see myself as rebellious. I am in the fight of my life, in a good way, of course.

I was called to be a prophet. I did not want to say that out of shame, guilt and condemnation by others. So, in not at least saying it at times, I lived in a loss of identity, trying to latch on to anything but not really fitting in. Yet how can I deny that night and that experience, that voice of God to me? I can’t deny that experience of being called as my reality.  Today is my breaking out, not breaking bad. Haha- could not resist that.

I am called as a prophet but I have no platform to speak so I speak to myself, declare to the heavens, and write. II walked through wilderness training, being healed and set free in many ways. I have walked one step close to a line of humiliation and misunderstanding most of my life. The fight to fit in has almost killed me. Where does this take me? Well just saying it sets me free to be who God called me to be. I am a Debra in Christ, not Debbie, Deb or Deborah. Great post here below.

Onward and upward.

In Christ, Debra

Please 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, Twitter, or on our Contact Page on our web site.

Some Great Posts To Read

Is Anyone Listening? The Dream.

Be Intentional, Nothing Less

Creative Expression – Prophecy….. Flowing From His Grace and Goodness!

Rivers of Eden MinistryI prophesied a lot over the past years – over people, churches, nations, situations. One night many years ago, I awoke at 2 am in the morning to a divine encounter with Jesus, calling me to a prophetic life in Him. There is a hunger in me for Holy Spirit, His gifts, His flow, and His creativity. My Christian life is an adventure – walking in the supernatural is my normal.

We are all called to prophesy. It is part of our Christian life. This is not a teaching. This is my heart in the prophetic – how I grew, how I changed, and how I still love Holy Spirit and adventure. It is for you. It is for me.

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1 NKJV)

As grace awakened my life in 2013, the lens over my eyes shifted to prophesying with one focus, and only one focus in my heart. Jesus Christ, His finished work, the glories of His unconditional love and acceptance in the beloved, is the source of all prophecy that flows over my lips and from my heart. There is no other way.

Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10 NKJV)

The testimony of Jesus Christ, flowing through my life, is the spirit by which I prophesy. Yet, that was not always evident in the Charismatic movement in which I immersed myself as a Christian. Over the years, I saw a lot and heard a lot. I was part of it all. Sometimes the bulk of the prophecy, at times, seemed to have its focus on everything but Jesus Christ. As I said, in my life, grace shifted my focus.

Grace has not eliminated the desire to prophesy. It has only clarified my intent and purpose in the gifts of prophecy and other gifts of the Spirit. It has ‘rounded me out’, if I can say it that way. To prophesy from the life of Christ flowing through me and not some other focus or agenda.

Now, I want to add some observations if I may. On my Facebook wall, I read a lot from grace teachers. In their posts, I don’t read a lot about prophecy or the gifts of the Spirit or the manifest presence of God. I don’t read anything about five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, etc. yet, Paul specifically talks about this in the epistles. Sometimes, I find some things lacking in these posts.

I do read a lot of words about the finished work of the cross, theological debates and discussions. It’s excellent but often I still find it lacking. Kind of like, running with some great revelation, but how long do you keep running with it? I want to ask this question “What now?” How often do you keep saying, “God loves you unconditionally? You are forgiven.” What movement for me is beyond this revelation? To walk in grace in the fullness of the Spirit flowing through my life.

What happens with the revelation of grace? With me, it fits in and adds fulfillment to many of the other teachings in my Christian life that may have been a bit off but now are full in grace. Grace keeps me centered on the fact that I BE in Christ and He flows through me. Yet, I still hunger for the gifts of the Spirit to add that creative element to my Christian life.

I also wonder how one flows as eyes open to grace if you are considered to be a Baptist or a Charismatic or an Evangelical. Do you maintain your positions of belief to some extent even in grace? Does a grace revelation flow from your foundation in that particular denomination. Let me explain. I have not been in many Baptist churches where Holy Spirit is flowing in tongues or in the gifts with spontaneity. From what little I know, many Evangelicals can also hesitate to take the Charismatic seriously. And, Charismatics can be so experience minded, that they could seem a bit ‘out there’ to others.

Many coming into grace from denominational backgrounds. What now? Grace is the great equalizer to accept the truths in Scripture that the lens of our vision may have disregarded in other seasons of our life. In other words, grace opens the door to the fullness of Scripture, not just an add-on to our belief system.

Grace does not negate the five-fold ministry or the gifts of the Spirit in Christ. It beautifully gives these color and creativity. Grace has moved me into a greater measure of His glory by faith in Christ and His unconditional love for me.

Just some thoughts and way more are coming.

In Christ, Debra Westbrook

Rivers of Eden – our ministry in Christ. Please 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.

You can contact us on Facebook, Twitter, our Rivers of Eden Contact Page, or right here in the comments.

Some Great Posts To Read

Mirror, Mirror

Be Intentional

The Voice, The Vision

Creative Expression – Faith is not a Strategy

I was watching an interview with Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, about passion, creativity, and initiative. He talked about his journey with Starbucks, the good and the bad. He made a statement in this interview that I can’t shake. He said, “Faith is not a strategy.” I have been thinking about that statement for weeks.

Faith = belief

Strategy = design, blueprint, plans

My belief may or may not be enough to get me moving in strategy. I can sit in faith for a long time, and not move in strategy. Just sitting and waiting, being quite noble and stoic in my Christianity. Waiting on God………..that was drilled into me for years. You can wait and wait and wait and wait. I waited so long that in some areas of my life, I lost passion and purpose.

stockfresh_141486_flaming-heart_sizeXSI can stand forever in one place having faith but where does it take me? Faith alone is not strategy. There is movement in strategy. Movement in Holy Spirit strategy in our lives involves course corrections, revisions, dead ends, and upgrades. It is movement. The Kingdom is about movement. My journey in Christ is about risk.

OR, there can be a disconnect between my faith and my strategy. How? Well, like this. I can step out in my best-laid plans, which come to nothing because the source of these plans are not in the heart of Christ for me. I jump on every good idea and take risks but they are not faith-based risks. These risks form a path from expectations played out in my own head to just do something.

Faith is not a strategy. It is a foundation. It is a starting point. Yet, faith is activated in order to move forward. Who is the connection between the two? The Holy Spirit. He reveals Christ, the way, the truth and the life and I move out.

But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you (John 16:13-15 Message)

My faith in Jesus Christ is real, substantial and forms my life. He is my life. But, what do I do with this live in me? DO is a great word. It is a wonderful word.  Grace and truth in Christ reveals to me my union in Him, not performance based in any way. He is. I am in Him. That is foundational and my faith is not shaken in that regard. I may get discouraged and down but He is the way, the truth and the life to me.

For years, waiting became a mantra to me. Wait, wait and wait. Wait more and you will rise up with wings as eagles. There is tension in this type of endless waiting. It breeds discontent and a decrease of passion and purpose. It sounded spiritual but it is not.

For me, each day is an adventure in Christ. My faith is not some magical conveyor belt that moves me into purpose. My faith in Christ aligns me and positions me in heavenly places in Him. From that vantage point, I live and move and have my being in Him.

My strategy now is quite simple and flows from peace and rest in Christ: I worship, I pray, I speak in tongues, I prophesy to myself, I read the Word, and I live from Him filling my heart. I listen to Holy Spirit speak to me and reveal Christ to me. I do what I see the Father doing and move where I see the Father moving. That is not complicated. It is the unforced rhythms of grace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me––watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill–fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30 Message)

What if there is no  strategy during those times of prayer and worship? Well, then I BE and LIVE. But, I don’t wait and stand still. I hope you are getting that picture and I am not sounding completely nebulous and void. Waiting is not passive. Waiting is not standing and looking for that perfect moment to arrive where trumpets sound and angels sing. Waiting is movement, believing with all my heart in Christ Jesus, knowing that He knows where I am at all times and can find me anytime. He sees me at all times. Waiting is active movement on a foundation of sure belief in Christ. Kind of contradictory? No, not at all. Waiting is active movement. Think about it.

Any comments stirring in your heart? I ask this a lot but don’t get a lot of comments so I WAIT. Hahaha! I am quite patient to know that many people OUT THERE struggle with life, up and down and all around. I am a messenger of good tidings to tell you God loves you. So what are you thinking today about faith and your strategy in Christ? Elevate, rise up and see that He has incredible things for your life.

More posts for you to enjoy

Guilty As Charged

Innovation and Creativity

Networking in Holy Spirit