Tuesday, May 31, 2005
By Ramone, Late 2004 (Poem by Les Camacho)
I can't remember exactly when I did this, but it was after Yoko's best friend Sachi got me some pens for my birthday (November 20th, for all you who would send me presents!). I used the pens to make this basically as a bookmark.
Les Camacho, my friend & brother in Jesus, wrote this poem awhile ago and I wanted to keep it with me in my Bible because it really speaks God's heart for His Son and for us (see Zechariah 12:10). I didn't spend long on the illustrations, and I hadn't planned to make them, but they just kind of happened as I had extra blank space between paragraphs. I didn't have to think hard about them -- they just kind of came. God is beautiful.
By Ramone - January 20, 2005
I think I drew this while waiting for some students to arrive at a company in Hirano. Later, an art teacher at a high school (also in Hirano) saw some sketches I showed one of my students there and he gave me some watercolor pencils. I used them to add color some days later. I'm not totally satisfied with it, but it'll do for now.
The idea is "rest". Basically this is the last of my "first pics", the early pictures before diving fully into art for Jesus. I had received some pictures from Him earlier only a couple times, and I really liked receiving like that, you know! As I sat waiting for class to begin, I tried to rest and just "see" in my spirit. I don't know if I received this one like the first ones, but it was a nice picture that made me smile!
It's His rest, resting in Him. Resting in the waters of Jesus' love. The words of Psalm 23 ("still waters") come to mind, but the literal translation is "the waters of rest." That's Jesus! Rest in Him! He is your rest and will put a smile on your face as you lay down and let Him float you. Ureshii!
By Ramone - July 7, 2004
It was what our church called "prophetic ministry" after the service. Our friend Cindy was ministering to a lady with an elder (Andy, I think).
What struck me was the sight of them lovingly huddled together over someone and praying for them, speaking His love. The whole posture was one of love and it was beautiful.
It was prophetic because of Him, because of His love among them and flowing through them to one another. Truly, "There am I with them." (5/12/05)
(The words in Japanese are Matthew 18:20 - "Where two or three gather in My name, there I am with them". When I showed this to my friend & spiritual brother Scott Arany, he said it seemed like the words were falling on them.)
Let It Rain
By Ramone - May 31, 2003
Part 1 (see Part 2)
This was the second picture I really received from God ("On His Path" was the first). I saw it and didn't understand it. I saw dark clouds and grey-black skies, and in the foreground there was wheat. It seemed windy.
I sketched it on this postcard-sized pad with a cheap Japanese calligraphy pen in Japanese "sumi-e" ink painting style. I had some ideas about the meaning, you know, end time harvest kind of stuff along with the storm clouds of the enemy or bad things. But I wasn't sure and didn't receive a strong interpretation, so I waited.
I visited Riverside, California, for the wedding of my friends Dave & Shiela May in August 2004, and I got a chance to visit my friend & spiritual mom Hazel Holland on the last day I was there. We invited the Holy Spirit, and I showed her the picture and we prayed & talked about it.
The wheat we understand: it's us, His precious harvest whom He is bringing home. The clouds? It seemed like the enemy, but as I looked at the picture in my heart (it was still there), I seemed to see some light behind them (I painted that as a follow-up later: "Behind the Clouds"). Most of the world—even the church—will think that the clouds are the enemy. Bad things, judgments, persecution of the church. But the clouds are GOD! God is behind them, and He is coming!
Read Psalm 97:1-6 (it's quoted in Michael W. Smith's cover of "Let it rain" on his 2001 "Worship" CD). His coming will look dark to many of us and what we expect—not the "glory" and trumpets of majesty or conquest we would desire. Instead, dark clouds will precede His coming. But we can all rejoice and be glad because He is behind the clouds, and we will see His light in their cracks! Come, Lord!
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;*****
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
Fire goes before Him
and consumes His foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim His righteousness,
and all the peoples will see His glory!
See also: "Saved For This Hour" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)
On His Path
By Ramone - March 21-22 & May 26, 2003
This is the first picture I really got from God. I was sitting with Yoko at a Starbucks and wanted to draw something. I sketched something on a napkin but it was just my own idea, I think, and a little scary! Then I just somehow was quiet for a minute and looked inside. I don't know how I did this except it was like the Lord guided me and did it. I became still and saw a picture deep inside.
It was a man walking across a path, like a bridge but with no supports. Underneath was dark water, and overhead were night stars. In the distance there were faint mountains. The path was shining bright silver.
And it stirred my heart. I nearly wanted to cry, even though I didn't know what it meant. I'd taken some art classes in college, and really enjoyed some surrealism. In the handful of attempts I made with acrylic, I got to enjoy making starry night backgrounds. So art-wise, the content of this picture pleased me because hey, I finally had something to paint! But the stirring it caused in my heart quickly overtook the coolness of it, and I began to wonder about it.
At that time I wasn't working. I had worked for a former student at his company for about six months in 2002, and I also got a part time job at Woody Hut cafe. But sitting all day at my former student's company took a toll on my back and I had to quit. I didn't know what to do, where to go, or what was next. I didn't know if I was where God wanted me to be. The stress of not having (and me not searching for) a full-time job really put a strain on my relationship with my wife. We ended up having a painful fight one day. On the night of the 22nd, maybe a day after making up, we sat at a St. Marc cafe and talked. I also showed her the picture.
I had no idea God was about to use her to interpret the picture He'd showed me! She understood it immediately and said to me:
"Everything is you in your situation, and it's really dark how you see it and the water is really dark & scary, and you don't want to fall into it and drown.As she spoke that, I heard Him say in my spirit: "I'm leading you above the dark waters."
You don't know where you're going but you are already on His path which is clear & bright ... sometimes you can't see it because it's right under you.
The land feels really far from you and you can't see your goal, but you're walking. The stars are the lots of possibilities for you.
About the path being above the water with no support poles holding it up underneath:
Only God can do that. He's not scared, shaky or unsteady."
I seemed to remember reading somewhere, "I will guide your footsteps in the paths of peace." So I looked in the Scriptures and found all these!
"Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, and a path through the mighty waters" (Isa.43:16)
"Lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps.139:24)
"You will show me the path of life" (Ps.16:11)
"He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake!" (Ps.23:2-3)
"But the path of the just is like the shining light, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day." (Prov.4:18)
"...To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace." (Lk 1:79)
"Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway!" (Ps.85:13)
"I am the way" (Jn.14:6)
"But now this is what the Lord says, He who created you, He who formed you:
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name. You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you...
For I am the Lord, your God... your Savior.'" (Isa.43:1-3)
Thursday, May 26, 2005
By Ramone & Yoko - May 24, 2005
This was Yoko's idea! She sketched it on a small pad once and didn't think she'd ever get to painting it, so I did it for her. I think it's beautiful and shows the beautiful heart & perspective God has given her! She said:
"The feeling when I had it [the picture] was safe or secure... like the butterfly or any animal doesn't usually rest on our hands. But on Jesus' hand they feel 'Aaaah!' and sigh because they know where it's safe, where to go home."
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Every Road Leads Back to the Cross
By Ramone - May 24, 2005
I bought this little 9-piece puzzle you could draw on at a Muji store in Tennoji a week or two ago. This was my first time drawing a picture on a puzzle, but it won't be my last! It was fun! It's so much fun to take it apart and look at each piece individually, especially since I used so many colors. But the colors might fade because I used some markers. Oh well.
The picture is God's heart! In the middle we see His love in the cross. All of nature points to the cross -- rivers, stars, sunshine. And His love from the cross shines out to every part of nature -- day or night, and flows out like rivers across the land.
It's all about Him, not us. Every part of nature knows that it's simply all about Jesus, all about the love of God we see in Him. And it's not a puzzle, haha! Sometimes we think theology & revelation are like mysteries, but a "mystery" in the Bible is not what is hidden, but what was once hidden and is now revealed. Christ is "the mystery of God" as Paul puts it in Colossians. Everything is contained in Him, and He Himself is every blessing to us. The deepest of knowledge, the most unsearchable things of theology -- all of these will lead us back to the cross and God's awesome, simple love for us!
He Holds All Nature in His Hand
By Ramone - May 22-23, 2005
This is the best impression I could sketch of a feeling I had after visiting Arashiyama in Kyoto with my wife and our friends Matt & Jane Shores this last Sunday. It was a rainy day but the mountains --which we could see up close-- were beautiful. Cloudy skies & rain really bring out the green in nature! I was filled with love for nature and wanted to show it somehow. It's so much more beautiful than I can describe! God is wonderful.
He holds all nature in His hand,
Tree, leave, river and grass.
He sees every leave that falls to the ground
(even in springtime).
We know He sees because
He sent His Son
To show us His heart forever.
By Ramone - May 16, 2005
I began to see this picture in my heart on the 12th, but it seemed too simple. Yet underneath it are all the depths of everything. It's what He's done for me and for all of us. It's what He's really helping me see: It's finished, it's done, it's won. My victory is won over sin.
"And you, being dead... He has made alive,
having forgiven you all trespasses,
having wiped out the handwriting against us,
having nailed it to the cross."
Sometimes we speak of the blood and the cross, and forget what it means to You, the Father. We claim this or that, and worse, argue about it and its effect, how far it can go and what You can't do. It's Your Son's blood, Lord. Blood is supposed to remain inside the body! Father, let me never forget this, this precious gift of Your mourning.
"We speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that had been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began... as it is written, 'No eye had seen, nor ear had heard, no mind had conceived what God had prepared for those He loved so much...'"
I'll look at Your cross and marvel forever, Lord. And Your love! It's Your love for me. I know You're slowly revealing the cross to me, and showing me that my sins are wiped away. Thank You for unveiling this to me more and more.
Let me cry, Lord! Let me love You and mourn for You. Father, I want Your heart and to share in Your sufferings.
By Ramone - May 14, 2005
This is a picture I sketched gesture style before eating at a Chinese restaurant with Yoko and Michi. Gunpei Yamamuro was a colonel, I believe, in the Salvation Army in Japan about 100 years ago. He had a great heart for the poor.
He himself knew poverty and was only able to study at a Christian university in Kyoto (Doshisha) because a senior student helped him. The senior student had been reading 1st Corinthians 13 and wanting to live for God. God showed him the poor & hungry Yamamuro and said, "Help this young man, that is the way to translate that chapter into life." From that time onward, the benefactor himself often went hungry so he could help Yamamuro, and later he began helping other students, as well.
Yamamuro's heart for the poor grew so much that left his theological studies early because he couldn't wait to help. He knew firsthand what it meant to go without food. When the Salvation Army came to Japan, he went to see how he could help. At first, the only job they had available for him was collecting dirty geta (traditional Japanese wooden clogs) at the door. From that humble beginning Yamamuro was able to help many in Japan. He was able to speak to common & poor people to help them understand the Gospel, which they often mistakenly thought was too difficult for them. I'm reading his simple book now, "The Common People's Gospel", in English.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Monday, May 09, 2005
By Ramone - May 1, 2005
This is a picture I thought of as I laid down in my futon the other night. The timing of it is a message from God to us (we went through a painful loss recently). Autumn is a time when you see "summer" pass away, when your hopes and joys in the sunshine & warmth must fade away and fall to the ground, and you know only bitter cold lies ahead. But by faith you know that spring is coming.
I first understood and embraced "autumn" back in October, and wrote a sort of diary poem about it after walking among the tall trees of Utsubo-koen park in Osaka:
(October 6 & 7, 2004)
I let go
I drop my leaves
I open my hands
Come winter! Come cold
and biting frost!
It can only bring me
closer to Spring.
All my covering beauty
I reach to You
Here I will stand
I cannot be uprooted
You have planted me
and made winter... for me
I'm falling all my leaves, offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this tree is living for.
It's not a season of fading, withering, dying.
It is a time of surrender to Your will,
a time of trusting You to keep life.
I willfully fall for You and will be raised by You,
Seasons come and go. I used to fear them, not wanting to let go of the joy & comfortableness I'd adjusted to. But now I am not afraid. I welcome the seasons. They're Your gifts to keep me standing and trusting You, the Maker of all.
Pick it up
By Ramone - May 8, 2005
On the 7th I had a recurrance of a struggle many men have -- with lust. I was tempted in the morning before work and gave into it for a moment. I wanted to know what happened, why I had fallen that time, and wondered if I should feel more guilty (akin to what we usually think repentance is). I doubted my repentance from the last time something like this happened. But try as I could, I couldn't feel guilty. Something else had happened.
As I was praying (after the slip) I saw this picture of a snake. I continued getting ready for work and didn't think about it again until lunch. While eating I like to read my Bible or a book, and as I looked at a few verses, God's love began to fill me and I knew His love was in me, and that I loved with His love. So I knew I was with Him! (1 Jn 3:14) But what of what'd happened that morning? I felt bad about that but confused. I didn't have peace, so I flipped over the paper placemat and began writing it to God. Here's what I wrote:
Lord God, You're here with me now. Thank You for being here. Thank You for Your presence. Stop. What does that tell me? I'm forgiven; You won't let me go. Help me sort this out, Jesus. Do I need to feel sorrier for this morning's fall? God, I am sorry. I was weak. And You showed me that little poisonous snake afterwards! Thank You! What does it mean, Lord? Please show me, Jesus.
"they will pick up snakes with their hands ... it will not hurt them at all" (Mk.16:18)
"As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert..." (Jn 3:14)
"God made Him... to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God"
(2 Cor 5:21)
"You... are from God and have overcome them" (1 Jn 4:4)
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come"
(2 Cor 5:17)
"God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them"
(2 Cor 5:19)
Jesus, what are you telling me?
"Pick up the snake."
"Don't be afraid. You are from God. You are a new creation. You've overcome him already. I made My Son to be sin for you, for this..."
(God, can it be that You've taken my sin from this morning?)
How can I pick up this snake and squash it?
"Understand it also speaks -- and it's a liar."
It says it's in me, that it's in my heart. It speaks to tell me I'm guilty and I'm not made new.
"This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith" (1 Jn 5:4)
I pick you up, snake, in the name of Jesus Christ, and I believe God. I believe God. I've overcome you. You are not me. I'm a new creation. I've seen Christ on the cross, the bronze snake in the desert. I know who you are, and I pick you up. I will even lay my hands on the sick and they will get well.
"You know who you are. Pick up the snake."
I'm a son of God! I've overcome already. I choose to believe.
...I keep wondering - pick it up and then what?
"Take it out of the garden."
Like snakes, I'm afraid of lust... afraid of it will sting or bite me, that I can do nothing to stop it when bitten. It paralyzed me. Lust has been a snake in my life. And now I'm picking up the snake and removing it from the garden of my soul. I am bigger than this snake, and his poison will not harm me. I am a son of God. I will even lay my hands on the sick in His name. God is also taking away my fear of poisonous snakes! Haha! You will free me of fear of the cobra, too, Lord! Yes Jesus, in Your name, amen. Jesus, I love You. Thank You.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
By Ramone - May 4, 2005
This is a picture I thought of while doing the stars for "Peace". The stars are worshiping God and dancing!
"Praise Him, sun and moon,
praise Him, all you shining stars!" (Psalm 148:3)
There were other texts about stars which I thought of using, but they didn't feel right. The image I got in my spirit was just their sheer joy, and applying the other texts to make more of a "message" was not the point. (I.e., we are to shine like stars, etc.) The Spirit in me just wanted to rejoice like the stars really do rejoice in Jesus! The stars sing for joy at Him! (well, that's in Job 38:7)
Just when I thought I'd gotten that ironed out, God used Yoko to bring me even more joy. On the way to bed I casually told her to read Psalm 148, so that she could see the text about the stars. After reading it, she also read Psalm 147:4 -
"He determines the number of the stars,
and calls them each by name." (or "He gives names to all of them")
Yoko said, "They must have beautiful names! There are so many!"
And suddenly I knew: that's why they dance! They dance for joy because He has called them and He has given them their names. And I heard Jesus say into my spirit: "You are the stars of My universe."
Thursday, May 05, 2005
By Yoko - May 5, 2005
Love grows! It starts with Jesus because all love comes from Him, and then it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger! It includes you and me and keeps growing to touch all of us.
Last night Yoko and I were talking about love and I was astonished when she said, "Love is alive." Did you ever think of it that way? Love is ALIVE! God is love, and God is alive, so love is alive. When we love each other, it's alive! Life is going back and forth between us, and that life is God, that life has a personality! Love has a personality!
Yoko painted this picture today with her new natsukashii watercolor paints. In the middle there is a small white cross, where the love begins!
By Ramone - May 5, 2005
This was a picture that I originally sketched on April 16th and then did another two versions of. The original sketch captured more of the sheer joy, though, so today while Yoko painted on the watercolor pad, I used my new soft pastels to go over the sketch and make it fuller. I'm still not totally satisfied with it, but will leave it for now unless God has me pick it up again. (Perhaps it's similar to how we're never fully satisfied with our own repentance? Leave it to God, then!)
It's repentance! You know, usually we don't think of repentance as a joyful thing. Instead it conjurs up images of trying to feel more bad about our sins or ourselves, or telling others they need to do that. But it's not Jesus' idea of repentance at all, because His idea begins and ends with us in His hands! And in His loving hands we won't focus for long on darkness. A booklet from WCG really helped me understand Biblical repentance -- that repentance is simply seeing things as they really are: we can't do what we need to by ourselves and have been exhausting ourselves trying, and repentance is coming to see that and trusting yourself to His hands, letting Him be it and do it for you. It's awesome to realize that Jesus accepted John's baptism -- a baptism of repentance -- when He Himself had no business needing to repent! Perhaps it means we can never fully repent but must entrust ourselves to Him who will work it out in us? Because He has switched places with us and identified Himself with us, becoming sin for us so we could become the righteousness of God in Him!
I wrote more about this on my blog. I'd talked with Yoko about it the night before (4/15) and while I was in the shower God gave me the picture idea. In a little pen sketch I drew the hands on the side of the repenting man, but God told me they needed to be underneath, because He is holding us and He is supporting us. The small black lines coming from His hands downward are like angels' wings. He made me smile when I thought of that. The dove was an addition that reminded me of the words of Father over Jesus, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" -- and how He speaks these words over us because Jesus swapped places with us and we've simply fallen down, asked for forgiveness, and accepted it -- we've repented! HALLELUYAH! Thank You God for the gift of repentance!