Friday, June 24, 2005
In His Hands
By Ramone & Yoko - April 12, 2005
This was one of a few pictures that came when Yoko and I sat down together for the first time and drew on two pads. I didn't know what to draw or where to start, but like at other times, the figure of a worshipper seemed to be the thing to draw. So I drew the worshipper and felt it needed something else. I asked Yoko what she thought, and she said it needed hands. So I put in the hands & love it! I love how God blesses me with my wife! He is beautiful and He has given her a beautiful heart to see the world through, and I love her perspective! (^_^)
We are in His hands! As we worship, we are in His hands, too. Our worship begins with is in His hands, and when we're finished (or exhausted!), we're still in His hands. It's like Jesus said, we worship Father in Spirit and truth, but Spirit and truth are His alone. So even our worship of Him is a gift from His hands! And it's by His hands that we lift up ours and praise & adore Him. It's His hands that hold ours up, and His hands that hold & hug us.
It reminds me of the first time I stood up to enter the presence of the King. I was attending a Tommy Tenney meeting at Mission Viejo, California, in August, 2001. Tommy has an anointing from the Lord to stir the hunger in people to passionately praise & adore Him, regardless of the cost to our image and what others think.
I sat next to a good friend, with whom I could share very private things. But as Tommy spoke of the women breaking alabaster boxes of perfume for Jesus, and as he talked of the blind beggars crying out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!", something began to rise in my heart. I longed for Jesus and needed to cry out for him. I wasn't the only one!
The Spirit was stirring in other hearts, and soon one man stood up and cried out to God. Then another did the same, but from the other side of the room. People began to stand up and cry out to the Lord, but it's not like that kind of call where you stand to rededicate your life to God just because everyone else is standing. As each person stood up, you could feel their embarassment, and you could feel how they pushed past embarassment just to cry out to God! They were too hungry; they had to choose to ditch what others thought. Their cries interrupted Tommy's speaking, but they were the cries of passion for our Savior. Tommy put aside his microphone and began to worship God and cry out to Him for himself. Soon many people were standing and worshiping God.
But many were also seated, just as I was, struggling with the embarassment. I sat next to a good friend I'd brought, who I'd shared intimate things of the heart with, but I was embarassed to cry out from my heart to God in front of him. Finally, I went for God and stood up to join the singing that had begun and cry out to God. But no sooner did I stand than I could not sing or even speak. I couldn't cry out to God. I wanted to say a beautiful prayer or psalm, but I could only just weep, because He hugged me and held me in His hands.
God, You are so awesome. Thank You for holding us and giving Your love to us. Thank You for raising us and our arms to worship You, for making us for this, and teaching us how to leave all else behind just to adore & worship You. You're worth everything, Lord. Thank You for seeing us as worth everything.
"The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Monday, June 20, 2005
By Ramone - April 22, 2005
I got this one morning as I rode the subway to work. I remembered a dream & vision my friend & spiritual-mom Hazel Holland had, where the Lord showed her a simple black space, like a blackboard, and the Jesus-fish being drawn one after another. I smiled when I thought of this one, and smile when I look at it now. His love is so simple, just like that fish, that a child can understand. Often we (I!) make it so complicated, but He teaches us with children and is teaching us to become like children to enter His sweet kingdom of agape love & joy!
See also: "The Pure Kingdom" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)
By Ramone - April, 2005
I was thinking one night of how He's saved us from trying to keep the moral code, how He's saved us from the Law, and I remembered something that my friend Haroldo Camacho wrote. Christ has no problem handling the Law. We are sitting on the bench, broken, bruised and bleeding from trying to keep it and from throwing it at each other so often! But seeing Him, our Hero, our Champion, we can't help but cheer! Some of us are in the stands, but others of us wanted to play and it took injuries it confine us to the bench and teach us that it's not about us, it's about Him!
by Haroldo Camacho
...In the dialogue about Paul's use of the "body" metaphor I noticed that a comparison was made between Christianity and the Eastern Religions. It was noted that some Moslems were more Christian than the Christians. No doubt such comparisons can be made, given the general understanding of Christianity. That general understanding is that Christianity is a religion that promotes an ethical code. Some would say that its ethical code is better than the ethical code of other religions, or more easy or difficult in attaining. In the end comparative religion turns out to be more than a match between children who tout at each other, "My ethical code is better than your ethical code."
The way that I see the New Testament message is that the gospel or Good News is an announcement. It is a shout, a cry, and a proclamation of what God has done in Jesus Christ! This is good news for all the inhabitants of planet earth. It is not a promulgation of an ethical code that bests other ethical codes.
Not that the Judeo-Christian religion does not have its ethical code ... However, the good news of Christianity is that the ethical code has already been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. He bestows on us His ethical code. God accepts and treats us as if we had done it ourselves, and takes us into His love throughout eternity. That's it. The community of those who believe God has done just that for us in Jesus Christ is a community of fans who can only cheer and applaud their Hero.
Christianity is not a religion of keeping an ethical code. The Shaquille O'Neal of the Ethical Code Association has already done that. Christianity is a religion of Hero worship. It only has one Hero. There's no place for any other players. Christianity does not ask of me to become a spiritual Shaquille O'Neal. If anything I root and applaud what my MVP from Nazareth accomplished---a perfect game throughout His lifetime---no fouls, scoring every basket, no turnovers, making every foul shot, playing every minute even when mortally injured. He's got my respects. I worship Him. He's my game. I may not even know how to dribble right, but I know what He did, and I cannot help but root for Him.
Traditionally Christianity has not been viewed this way. The Protestant Reformation got a try at it. But their followers got back into their ethical game. They wanted to get down to the court and play their game, waiting for the day when they would have their perfect game. The cheer of the crowd when they got a shot off was intoxicating! They, like us, have not realized that nothing but the life game played by Jesus Christ is the one that counts! Do we also sometimes want to get a good share of the cheers, rather than cheer the One Great Player, our glorious MVP, Jesus Christ?
See also: "Perfect Performance" (at Heart For Adventists)
Tree of Life
By Ramone - April 12, 2005
I read something by Chip Brodgen (http://www.watchman.net/) which really changed my perspective on the Tree of Life. Jesus, let Your cross do its work in my life. From all appearances it looks very hard and difficult. It is, but it isn't in You, and I know I'm dying into life as You cut through all the junk I really don't need. Thank You for setting me free with Your cross, with Your life.
TO HIM THAT OVERCOMES (excerpt)
by Chip Brogden
"To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7b).
We should see that Christ does more than restore what Adam lost. He goes beyond Adam, offering the Overcomers fruit from the tree of life, fruit Adam knows nothing about. Obviously this is symbolic language, but what does it mean? The tree of life represents the Cross, for from that Tree the Lord yielded up His Life for us all. Those who overcome have learned that fruitfulness and life come from death to Self, and that is what the Cross means. The Cross is a tree of life to those who embrace it.
Like Adam, we can choose to eat from either tree, but we cannot eat from both. Adam sinned when he fell into the flesh and yielded to his Self-life. He rejected the tree of life in favor of something that was "good... pleasant... and desirable" (Genesis 3:6ff). The Cross does not look like a tree of life at all. It is neither good, nor pleasant, nor desirable. It looks like death. Perhaps this is why Adam did not eat from it first. But God's End is not death, regardless of appearances: God's
End is life out of death, which is resurrection. To eat of the fruit of the tree of life is to glory in the Cross of Jesus Christ and find life out of death. It is becoming popular to preach and teach about the Cross these days, but how many are eating of its fruit? Can we really see the Cross as the TREE OF LIFE, and are we eating of its fruit? We will know a true disciple of the Lord, not by words, but by fruit (Matthew 7:20), and the Cross is the tree of life from which this fruit comes.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005
By Ramone - sometime between June 2003 & July 2004
I wrote the story of this one on May 12th, 2005:
It started out with only a vague idea of wanting to draw "worship" but quickly grew chaotic. It didn't work and my pen was dying, so I left it for a long time. Sometime later (I don't remember when?) the outline came, strong & firm. Up close, I love it. From a distance, though, it looks un-interesting & chaotic or even cheap.
It's like my story of worship... begun with a vague notion of You, Lord, of what worshiping You really is. It got chaotic and too difficult to figure out, and I gave up! Later though (and at what exact point I don't remember) I saw a definition & real shape. (Is it a scream or a cry? A joy or a fear? It's that joy of stretching & reaching up to You!)
From a distance, yeah, it's cheap. Technique, too! Maybe not interesting to others. But up-close, intimate, You've made worship in my life out of all my chaos. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.
Come with Me
By Ramone - June 17, 2003
I bought a delightful little book called "Bilbo's Last Song", which contains J.R.R. Tolkien's last poem of the Lord of the Rings & Hobbit series, a kind of nostalgic farewell to Middle Earth. It's illustrated by Pauline Baynes, perhaps most famous for her pictures in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series. Her artwork has a jewel-like innocent quality to it, and I wanted to try and mimic that here (as well as the circular hobbit view of life!) in this picture.
It took a bit of thinking, and I'm not happy with the colored pencils because it evokes that old Sunday-school coloring book feel, but then maybe that's not a bad thing since He wants us to see His Kingdom through eyes like a child's! So in this picture we see Jesus, taking me (and you) by the hand from the tomb. The stone is rolled away, and paradise opens before us with the Tree of Life and the City of God beyond the rolling hills and clear sky. Come to think of it, there is no path before us because He is "the Way", and He will lead us in His river of delights.
Climb Every Mountain
By Ramone - June 16, 2003
I'd done a quick pen sketch of this at some date earlier. It came during a difficult time (see this story) when I was not working here in Japan, and my wife was under a lot of stress to provide. I didn't want to return to English teaching, but was having a difficult time finding other work.
To put it bluntly, I was afraid of working. Work wasn't a happy experience for me. My mother struggled from one job to another and was never able to stay doing what she loved most. My father was a workaholic who tried to get my brother and I to work at Grandma's house when he took us there for what was supposed to be our summer vacation, and he always seemed to be thinking about finances.
Don't get me wrong, I love my parents dearly. I am so grateful to them for everything, and for my life as well! I am so blessed to be loved by them. But no parent is perfect. And that's okay. God knows that! Each one of us grows up with pains and wounds -- some of us are abandoned, some feel rejected, and others are abused in one way or another. It's not important to assign blame and get apologies from them. We all fail and are going to fail again. I love the Greek verb in Romans 3 which literally says, we all "continue to fall short of God's glory".
God took me through a lot of healing and courageous steps. I simply grew up looking at "work" through a pair of tinted glasses. One lens showed pain, and the other loved work and said "time is money". Some dear friends prayed for me and helped me understand that Jesus has taken this yoke off of me! I now live under His yoke -- a yoke which is easy, a burden which is light.
Work will be a joy to me. It is a joy to me in Jesus Christ. It's worship and it's a dance. God redeems every bad thing you go through! He has redeemed my fear of work, and He is faithful to redeem all we commit to Him. So I'm waiting for that day when I know my parents, too, will experience His redemption of every painful part of their lives.
I used to hate having to get out of bed in the morning during my first months after having returned to Japan. I didn't want to face the boredom and the endless uphill struggle of trying to figure out what I wanted to do, where I could work, etc. It was all too heavy for me.
Jesus took that heaviness! Suddenly I woke up one day. Not in the morning, but after I was already awake, you know! I woke up and life smelled fresh. I would see the challenge. I would walk into the unknown and not be afraid.
I was walking through the old underground labryinth of Honmachi station and passed one of those old-and-probably-very-smokey-inside coffee shops, when I heard this operatic voice booming over their loudspeaker. I thought for a moment it sounded like that song the old nun sang in "The Sound of Music". I continued walking but stopped to go back and check. It was!
"Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Til you find your dream"
"A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live"
God really lifted me up that day! That became my anthem for that time. I didn't know what my dream was, or what I was going to do. That would stunt and kill me in the past, but not anymore. I smelled the freshness of God and felt His call. I was energized by Him and I could ascend into the mountains of my life. Jesus is wonderful.
By Ramone - June 16, 2003
I love the verses of Proverbs 8 and the cry of wisdom, because it is the cry of the Son, speaking through the shadows of the Old Testament. It's the Son talking of His delight when creating by the side of His Father, and the delight they shared in us as they made us! It's the delight that God has in you and me!
Saturday, June 11, 2005
By Yoko & Ramone - June 7, 2005
This is all Yoko's idea, I only did the world in the background because she asked me to! ;) The hearts make the infinity circle, and each heart has a cross in the middle of it. Here's what she had to say about the picture, named "Eternal love":
"It's just love & love, a never-ending cycle! It's eternal and it's the biggest biggest thing. The hearts are love, and they're also people! If you pour out your love to someone it will connect and produce love from the other person. And everyone has Jesus in their hearts!"
I asked her about the earth and she replied:
"Honestly I didn't know what to put behind it, but as I was thinking about it the earth came up. Love is the biggest thing and it covers everything!"
As she said this, I understood His meaning as God reminded me of the verse from Habakkuk 2:14 & Isaiah 11:9 -
"The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
His knowledge -- Christ, that He is love -- will cover the earth. He will fill the earth by filling our hearts and by using us to pour out our hearts to one another! His eternal love -- His heart -- will cover the earth like the ocean!
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire
(click on photo to view larger)
By Ramone - June 4, 10 & 7, 2005
This is the first time I've ever done a series! In a way it's a return to some of the charcoal styles of my art major days, but the fire is soft pastel covered with watercolor. I hadn't planned it as a series because originally I only saw the last picture.
Recently I wrote on my homepage about Jesus baptizing us with His Spirit (read it here). His baptism is such a wonderful thing --- so far beyond the words I used to talk about it, and so far beyond any picture I could make of it! I didn't set out to draw it and hadn't even been thinking of the subject until one night...
The Story of Picture #3
I was trying to fall asleep but some temptations began to attack and my heart was weighed down, feeling defeated. To distract myself I began thinking of how Peter curiously talked about the flood in 1st Peter 3, saying that the eight people were saved by the water. Most commentators ignore Peter and say no, they were saved by the ark, representing Jesus Christ. But look at it the other way: if the wickedness on the earth was as bad as He said (that only Noah was right in His eyes), then the waters He sent really did save them! The waters were destructive, but God's judgments are always redemptive! The earth was cleansed and the people were saved by the waters. For a time.
In the same way, Peter said that when we choose to be baptized, the pledge of our conscience puts us in God's hands and we're saved by Him. In 2nd Peter 3, Peter talked about the flood again, how it destroyed wickedness on the earth, and how the earth is reserved for a final fire that will destroy wickedness once and for all. It's like the earth has two baptisms -- one of water and one at the end of fire. Suddenly I realized that we also have two baptisms -- the first one we initiate because we're repenting and want to put ourselves in God's hands. Although we're saved because we've entrusted ourselves to Him, there is junk inside us we still can't cleanse ourselves of. So He baptizes (immerses) us His fire! We receive it before the end. For evil His fire means judgment, but for us it means cleansing and life! Just as the earth is finally cleansed forever by His fire in the end, in the same way His fire inside us is unquenchable -- see Song of Songs 8:6 -
"Love is as strong as death, its jealousy as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like the very flame of Yahweh!
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away."
His burning, blazing and unquenchable Spirit has been put inside of us. That night, as I thought of this, He suddenly reminded me of the temptations I'd been battling with only a few moments earlier. He reminded me that He had put His Spirit in me, He had baptized me with His Spirit, and His fire is unquenchable! I suddenly rejoiced at the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11-12 --
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I... He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
His winnowing power is inside of me! I can trust His power in me, that it is unquenchable and my temptations and weaknesses will be consumed! And so the first picture I saw was this one:
I was resting in Him! All my temptations and faults seemed to surround me, but He reminded me that His unquenchable fire is in me, so I was able to rest in the midst of them because His Spirit is in me. When everything looks grey and dark inside you, don't forget He's put His fire inside you! It's wild & unquenchable, and will burn up the chaff in your life! Praise You, Lord!
The Story of Picture #1
About a week or two after that night, I thought of writing about the Spirit's baptism, and then thought of making a series of pictures, since the first picture really didn't show the baptism itself. As I was thinking of the idea of the series of three, this next picture came of Him holding His Spirit -- His Fire -- before pouring it out on us. I sketched the series on a little Muji postcard pad and then drew this picture first on June 4th.
A few days later my friend told me some joyous news: another friend had just been baptized by the Holy Spirit! We had been praying for our friend, but hadn't expected this! God is truly wonderful. Like Charles Finney, our friend had no idea that God could or would do such a thing for us. Many Christians don't understand that Jesus promised to baptize us with His Spirit. And even if we hear of it from others, sometimes we naturally have trouble believing in what we can't see (see John 14:17), and may write it off as an emotional experience or imagination. But God is real, very real, and is waiting to pour Himself into us! He wants to make His home in us!
A few days after talking with my friend, as I was thinking about how we often doubt God's supernatural reality and ability to move us, He suddenly interpreted this picture: He is holding His Spirit in His hands, waiting. He died so that He could give it to us. He wants to pour it out into us more than we want it! Thank You, Lord! We call for it! Fill us with Your Spirit!
The Story of Picture #2
I didn't have such a strong impression for the second picture; I hadn't received the image as clearly as the first and third ones. I wanted to show the pouring out, but the only impression I had in my spirit was the joyful reception of it. As I began to sketch, I honestly had no idea where I was going with it. I began to write some words thanking Jesus, and that really helped!
Somehow though I wasn't happy with it and it felt unfinished. I did some more sketching on my little Muji postcard pad and felt that the fire pouring down from above needed to be in the man's heart as well, not just pouring "above." So five days after the first version, I made a second version, adding God's hands, the fire inside, and the pouring waves in the background:
Praise God! He's so awesome! He put His fire inside my heart! When we think of the Spirit "pouring out", the image that may come to mind would be like the first version with the Spirit pouring from above. But when I was first baptized by the Spirit in October 2001, I didn't see Him pouring out the Spirit, although I knew He was there. The overwhelming realization was that He was real and outside of me, and yet He was also inside me!!
When He immerses you with His Spirit, you know beyond words that He is totally "other" and outside of you, yet He is inside you and fills you! He pours straight into Your heart and suddenly you know Him from the inside out -- not by a revelation outside but from inside! Marvelous! Hallelujah! We begin knowing You deeper as You're in us! Thank You Lord!
See also: "Guaranteed" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
By Ramone - May 27-29, 2005
It's simply the gospel, what Jesus has done for us. I got this picture when I was reading in my Bible the other day and came across Zechariah 13:1 again...
"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity."
Makoto Iwabuchi wrote a song of this that really touches my heart:
Jujika kara afure nagareru izumi
Sore wa Chichi no namida
Jujika kara afure nagareru izumi
Sore wa Iesu no ai
There is a fountain flowing from the cross
It's the tears of the Father
There is a fountain flowing from the cross
It's the love of Jesus