Monday, August 18, 2014


How does God normally speak to you? For me, its often a feeling deep down in my heart or sometimes a Holy Spirit nudging. I have heard God speak to me a couple of times, but I think He reserves those times for the big stuff :) In any event, a few months ago, I felt God pushing me towards the word “Rescue.” Have you guys heard of a rhema word? In Greek, it means “Utterance” and it usually happens when you are spending time in prayer or reading the Word. Have you ever had a word be EVERYWHERE in your life? When you switch the radio on or off, or when you turn on the TV, or when you overhear other conversations... I feel like God uses these rhema words to get my attention. They usually correspond to the season I'm in, but sometimes they can be for the season to come.

In any event, there is no doubt in my mind that God had been pushing me towards the word rescue. I prayed about it and did some bible digging (remember: I'm a nerd) and He kept impressing on my heart that the “rescue is real” and “His rescue always comes.”

Being a lover of all things word related, I went straight to the source – my friend, Miriam Webster. I looked up what rescue means – and I'll tell you it means this: TO SET FREE FROM DANGER. I also looked up the Greek word for rescue – which is Sozo – which ironically is also the Greek word for save. SO then I got thinking.... in my mind, rescuing and saving are two different things. Remember – Miriam Webster tells me that to rescue is to set free from danger... but she tells me that to SAVE is to prevent from danger or avoid it.

In order to be set free from danger, I have to be IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION ALREADY. There is a NEED for someone or something to come and remove the chains that bind me – whatever those are. BUT if I am saved, I am not necessarily in a dangerous situation. For example, I am saved from the pain of Christmas shopping (which is in about 20 weeks, by the way) because I choose to shop online, but I am not rescued from the pain of it because it doesn't put me in danger.

Being a girl, and a Mom to three girls, I've seen my fair share of princess-type movies. One of my favorites is Tangled, which features the store of Rapunzel. Has anyone seen it? I feel really connected to this movie for some reason. Sounds bizarre, but its just one of those things. In the Disney adaptation, the girl, Rapunzel, is not trapped in the tower, but has merely been convinced that she HAS to stay there and that everything outside of there is dangerous or bad for her. One day, someone breaks in and agrees to help her break the rules so she leaves the tower to follow her dreams. Her 'mother' who had stolen her at birth from the king and queen, ends up following her and trying to derail her from pursuing her dreams. In the end, we realize that the boy who showed up that day actually SAVED her to begin with, but then ended up RESCUING her in the end. She was well kept and cared for in her tower. She had what she needed. She was NOT in danger at first...but as the story unfolds we realize that she really WAS in danger and needed to be RESCUED ( because remember – to be rescued you have to be in danger already). She was a princess. And if Jesus is the King of Kings, then surely we are princesses too. Heirs to the Throne of His grace.

Galatians 1:4 says that (Jesus) gave Himself for our sins TO RESCUE us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Funny how Paul wrote this 1965 years ago, and yet we can say WITH CERTAINTY that its still true. Our world is full of filth and cruelty and tragedy and lies and fakeness and uncertainty. All of these things are horrible. All of these things plague us... but we don't have to be defined by it. The fact that we are RESCUED from it doesn't mean that we are completely not part of it, BUT It means that we are no longer enslaved to it. We are no longer enslaved to the negativity of this world.

Don't disregard the part of the scripture that says 'according to the will of our God and Father.” There are things that happen in our lives that are not 'good' per our standards, yet God allows for His reasons. I'm confident that EVERYTHING that happens is according to the will of God – even some of the things that we would prefer not to happen.

We have been rescued. Don't you see the value in this? Yes, we are 'saved' by grace through faith – its not something WE'VE DONE, but something that is a gift from God. Because His grace is poured out upon us, and because of what HE'S DONE (died on the cross), we are RESCUED and no longer bound and enslaved to this world. First, we're saved. Then we're rescued. This world we live in requires us to be rescued. Its dangerous. Its bombarding us constantly with deceit and hurtful things ← both of which are against the very core of who God is.

The good news is that we are saved once and rescued as many times as we need to be. That is the byproduct of His grace. Ezekiel 34:11-12 says – As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep and I will RESCUE them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. The days of clouds and thick darkness come – at times, they are bountiful. So many days I've spent covered in a cloud – or a Spirit – of depression or anxiety or sadness or anger. So many days I've felt my heart thick with darkness – the kind that kind of swoops in like a rain cloud that covers the Son. I am His sheep. He is my shepherd. You've all heard that story, right? The one about the shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the one? That he REJOICED in finding the one? That shepherd knew that the 99 were safe but the one needed to be rescued so He pursued it until He found success. So God, through the prophet Ezekiel, has promised to seek us and RESCUE us when we've been scattered. Wherever we land, whatever we do, He will rescue us. I am His sheep. He is my shepherd. 

Psalm 82:3-4 tell us that God rescues the weak and the needy and He delivers us from the hand
of the wicked. Proverbs 24:11 tell us that God RESCUES those who are being taken away to death. The things of this world make us weak, and needy, and drive us towards a spiritual death. In each of these cases, God has chosen to offer us grace and to set us free from the danger of being weak and needy and walking towards death.

Even now. Even now as God sits on the throne and Jesus at His right hand, the Psalms say that “He reaches down from heaven, and rescues me. He draws me out of deep waters.” How many times do we need to be rescued. How many times do we BEG God to hear us from heaven and reach down to simply pick us back up? How many times have we had knees to the ground, arms raised to the sky, lamenting “God HEAR my cry! God, I INTERCEDE ON HER BEHALF!! God WHERE ARE YOU?!??!” I know its a prayer I've said and likely will continue to say. But how good is He to do that? TO reach down, to rescue and to draw me out of deep waters?

Let's go back to the princess analogy. How many princesses do you know have been rescued more than once? The stories usually go that the princess is in trouble, someone rescues her, and then she's living happily ever after. If our lives were like this, we'd be beyond lucky. But they aren't. Our lives are messy and unpredictable and require daily balancing and compromise. We need rescuing MANY times, and I'm grateful that our prince will come every time, on time.

Let's pray:

Father, I am SO grateful that you have rescued me. Thank you for your ransom and for the price you paid so that I could have freedom. God, we find our freedom in You so I pray that You would reach down from heaven and draw us out of deep waters. We are Your sheep, and You are our shepherd; shepherd us tonight. Come and find us – we are the one – lost and seeking You . Come and find us. When you find us tonight, God, please unlock us. Help us to be undone for You. Help us to encounter You in a new and fresh way. Revive us, God. Breathe new life in to us, God. Visit with us here tonight. We need you. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

His Name Is A Safe Place

A few months ago, I had the AMAZING opportunity to share my  heart at a women's prayer night at church. I had always meant to post it here, but never seemed to remember to do it. I am preparing for my next heart-dump with the ladies at prayer night on Friday, so I thought it would be best to go in and see what I wrote last time. The topic in mind for this week is definitely different - but funny I should (unknowingly) have one scripture the same. God works like that.

In any event, as I read through it I thought - I should blog this! It needs to be recorded somewhere.

SO without further ado, here is  my heart on His Name being a Safe Place.
A couple of months ago, I was listening to an IhoP prayer session led by Misty Edwards. If you don't know, IhoP is the International House of Prayer and they are a 24 hour prayer house and you can either go there or you can stream it online. I have a habit of putting it on when I'm at work and streaming from there because its never the same and it always gives me a new perspective on music. Anyway – Misty Edwards is my favorite leader there and I was happy she was on this day. As I listened to her serenading our Lord with His own Word using scripture, I will never forget what she declared. She said “His Name is a safe place” and she kept singing it over and over. She was so sure of this. She was imploring her audience – all those people in the prayer room – to hear her – to TRULY hear her that His name is a safe place.

A few days later, I found that the melody she sang and those lyrics would not leave me. His name is a safe place...I can still hear it. I had never thought about this before. Never really considered that His name – that He is a safe place. I decided to do a topic search about this in the bible. For those of you who don't know, I'm a self professed nerd and I'm ok with that :) I am a thinker and a ponder-er and a research-er... So I decided to use my concordance to try and make some connections. Is anyone else like me – I think in feelings first (I'm emotive) and then I have to really work at making those feelings words and then making those words make any sort of sense to anyone other than me. Anyone else like that?

I was honestly surprised at the amount of scripture there was about this. I didn't expect to have such a richness of Word to pull from. John 17:11-12 says: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” The premise of this chapter is Jesus praying to be glorified, for his disciple, and for believers. In this particular part, Jesus is saying as clear as day that His name is a safe place. He says that he kept the disciples safe by the name given to Him by His father – Jesus. I believe the Word – and I know some of you do too – and so believe Him when He says His name is a safe place.

What do you say when something bad happens.. what is your almost instant response. “Oh My God” right? How about when something awesome happens? What is your instant response? “Oh My God” .. and I know we might say oh my gosh, but I'm pretty confident the first word in your heart is God and then it comes out as gosh... or maybe that's just me. What do we say when we are totally overwhelmed and at the end of our rope? “Oh My God!” .. What do we say when we are in complete despair and don't know what to do .. “Oh My God!!”.. Do you sense a theme here? I believe with my whole entire being that our souls are programmed to KNOW .. to innately know and understand that His name is a safe place. If something bad happens, we say oh my God but what are we doing? We are calling Him in to the bad situation. “His name is a safe place.” If something good happens, we say oh my God but what are we doing? We are praising Him of course, but we are calling Him into the midst of the situation and hoping that His safety will prolong the goodness and beauty of the moment. His name, my friends, is a safe place. Amen?

Psalm 91:14 says” I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.” Do you trust Jesus. I am asking you that question – do you trust Jesus? He tells us here that He will protect those who trust IN HIS NAME. Beloveds, His name is a safe place and its a place of protection and love and rescue.

You may even know this scripture – Proverb 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe” Does it get any more clear than this? His name is a SAFE place. Its a strong tower, a place where you can find refuge and have no fear.

I am fascinated with the names of God. Its something I've studied and pursued personally because it helps me to relate to Him – but that's another devotional for another day. I find that if we want to understand God better, we should know the facets of Him...and His names give us VERY clear clues to his nature and His purpose. His names point us to the full revelation of who He is and the breadth of His glory power and greatness.

I've written about this one before, but one day, I was absolutely struck by something and I leaned into the fact that God is El Roi – the God who sees me. Our God never rests, He never sleeps, nothing can be hidden from his loving gaze. No matter how lost you are, or how un-'Christian' you are feeling, You are NOT abandoned and you are NOT alone. He is the God who sees You and His name is a safe place.

Consider El Shaddai ...The almighty and all sufficient God, capable of DOING and PROVIDING anything. You know – that impossible situation that we ALL have, that desire you have to do something but NO means to accomplish it... El Shaddai tell us not to lose heart and not to give up. We serve an all sufficient and almighty God to whom impossible is easy. How could His name, El Shaddai, not be a safe place? If the words almighty and all sufficient do not conjure up a safe place, we need to talk.

I'll give you just one more – though there are many more. Consider Jehova Shammah - “The Lord is There.” In the book of Ezekiel, there is a vision that he describes and he says that the Lord is seated on the throne and He is high and lifted up. This name of God – the Lord is there – Jehova Shammah – is a PROMISE for ALL circumstances you could possibly walk through. When we feel isolated and alone? God is there. When we feel that we have failed Him? God is STILL there. When we are being tempted? God is there. When we pray? God is there. When we come before Him in time of worship? God is there. When we wonder if He can even hear us? God IS there. He loves us and He is on our side. So if we serve a God who is there...who is here in our hearts, then surely His name is a safe place.

I imagine you're thinking – that's all well and good, Dina. That's nice that His name is a safe place. I hear what you're saying, but I just don't feel it the way you do. I promise you this: Everything flows from encounter! I can tell you three distinct moments when I encountered God and where my life was radically changed as a result of it. We were made to know God and be known by Him. I encourage you to EXPECT an encounter w/ God at some point. Seek it. It will change your life.

Paula White recently tweeted “Expectancy is the breeding ground for miracles – there is nothing God cannot access for those who believe. Expect Exodus 14:14 – that the Lord will fight for you, all you have to do is be still. Whatever it is you are fighting, leave the fighting to Him. Don't fight circumstances, don't fight fear, don't fight each other.. just remember His name is a safe place, He is our safe place.

God promised you that His name is a safe place. It is in His gospel of John so there is no refuting it. Luke says Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her. He promises you that His name is a safe place.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tense matters....

Its been a while...too long for my liking, but it seems that life is passing along at a VERY challenging pace. First it was the end of the school year, now its the dog days of summer … all of these things seem to be taking FOREVER to pass, but suddenly they are gone – like some strange time vortex that we haven't quite figured out. In any event, I realized today that I have a lot to say and no one to say it to... and then I remembered this nice little space where I can vent.

I woke up this morning, as I normally do, with a song on my heart. It usually sets the tone for my day. There is always a message in it for me... always... sometimes its obvious, other times its not... but today it struck me as something I had to chew on for a while before I could spit it out.

The lyrics said “ I've tasted and I've seen – of a God who is greater than anything.” It was a spontaneous moment that soared into the throne room of heaven in this specific worship set. It immediately brought to mind Psalm 34:8 – taste and see that the Lord is good.

I was brought back to my childhood church. To the high and lofty ceilings painted white with beautiful wooden beams running across it, drop pendant lights sprinkled throughout. To the smell of powder and incense and wood polish for the long, long pews that glistened even on the rainiest of days. I can recall, with absolute clarity, the sound of the organ and Mr. Kirby singing “taste and see, taste and see, that the Lord is good.” As bizarre as it sounds, I can also recall the sound of his cough in between songs - he chain smoked like nobody's business and it seemed to take a toll on his Sunday morning crooning.

As sad as this is, I have to confess that it took me until my adult years to make the connection that he actually WAS singing the Psalms. The ones I could read for myself in the Good Book. The ones that have brought me comfort and eased the growing pains of life ... those very same Psalms. I have no idea why I never put two and two together,...but I suppose that is another story for another day.

Let's get to the heart of the matter, shall we?

My journey since my younger catholic years has moved me to a new church and given me a whole new worship experience. Gone is the organ, here is the keyboard and bass - even some drums. Makes me face-hurt smile to think how much I love where I am. I have learned more about who Jesus is in the past 5 years than I did in my first 25... but again, that is another story for another day (I guess one blog post begets two more?!??!)

In thinking about the lyrics today, and comparing it to the organ-laced song from my youth, I realized that tense matters. No, not the tightness in between my shoulders (I wouldn't EVER say no to a massage!) but to the actual TENSE of the words. The lyrics are past tense - she has tastED and SEEN. The Word says to taste and see. Taste. See. Now. Not in the past. That got me thinking...

I can say for sure that I have tastED and I have SEEN that the Lord is good. But can I really say that in the present tense?

I can't help but relate this to food (no snide remarks, please...). Do you have a desire to taste something when you're not hungry? Think about it. You've just had a meal - whatever your heart desires - and you're just sitting in your seat. Satisfied. Full - OVERfull, maybe... but absolutely happy that what you just ate has exceeded your expectations. If I said to you - do you want to taste my food? You probably would say no. You're satisfied. You don't want to change the taste that lingers on your tongue. But if you were NOT satisfied - if you were starving and I offered you a taste of my food, you would be happy to oblige. You are HUNGRY. You WANT. You, quite possibly, need a taste.

Jesus offers us this - Jesus offers us the ability to taste and see that He is good. But He won't force us to try a bite. He waits for us to be hungry - and eventually we realize that it doesn't matter what food we eat, the only true source of satisfaction is Him.

I, unfortunately, have a selfish nature. My first thought is often about how I'm feeling even if whatever the issue brings up is not about me or how I'm feeling. I am working on it. This selfish tendency can put blinders on me. I look around and see how things are NOT instead of how things ARE. I forget that there is pleasure in the small things - like the sound of laughter or a really good cup of coffee. My selfishness ALWAYS turns to grumbling and groaning. Instead of feeling like I'm serving my family by making them dinner, I end up thinking that they are all ungrateful people and should be making ME dinner for all I do for them (I swear, I've had these thoughts. No, I'm not proud of them - I'm keepin' it real here though... I know I'm not the only one).  In these blinding situations, I can not SEE that the Lord is good. I can only SEE how things are affecting ME.

So the song sings to me that I've tasted and I've seen... in the past. And I have - both of those things. And in each time I recognized it, I was full to bursting at the God who would know and see me. If you asked me right at this moment if I can taste and see if the Lord is good, my immediate response would be no. I am not tasting and seeing that He is good. I'm stuck in my own head.

But if you asked me if I've tastED and SEEN that He is good, I would absolutely say YES.

Sooooo...we have a problem here, no?

We (I say we, but I mean I) spend so much time thinking about what has happened, and what WILL happen...that we forget what IS happening.  We (again, I) are so caught up in before and after; in I 'used to' but next 'I will.' We change course from the road we USED TO travel SO THAT we can end up at a different destination - completely unaware of the beauty that surrounds us because our mind and hearts are too far ahead - hanging on a hope that may or may not be what we should cling to. We have tastED, we have SEEN. We do not taste and see.

I'm working on it. Join me?