Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Light of the World
By Ramone - January 22, 2006
I sketched this first back on January 19th in a little notebook while on break at McDonald's, and I must've been listening to Matt Redman's song, "Light of the World"... I love that song, it's just so joyful and in intimate awe of Jesus, and leads me to talk to Him and praise Him.
Before the sketch, I had just written in my little notebook how lately I was finding Jesus as the place of my rest... "You are where I can flee to, where I can find rest when I'm tempted, when I'm upset or beset. I can escape in you ...I can be myself there. Jesus, thank You so much!"
"Light of the World, You shine upon us!"
Jesus, I love You. This is for all the times You lifted up my head, all the times You shone on me & told me to look at You, count the stars, and see who You are.
And the times spent alone with You. Help me know You are here. You are the place my soul rests. You are my refuge from temptations and divided desires. You are the place I run to. Jesus, I worship You. I love You. I want to love You more, with all I have and all I am. Jesus, I want You to be my everything.
By Ramone - January 21, 2006
This is an idea I started playing with in a sketch back in November 2004 after reading "With Christ in the School of Prayer" by Andrew Murray. He talked about how Jesus told us Father was waiting for us in the closet, in our private place, and that as we go there our first understanding must be that God is there waiting for us and wants to meet us even more than we want to meet Him. The reward is Him, His presence.
I put the figure through various positions in my old black & white sketch, and finally shelved it for later. When in a spree of small pad sketching recently, the picture came back but this time with the worshipper in color, rainbow color. I thought of it as being filled with His presence there in the closet, being filled with Him in ironic contrast to the dark closet.
As I write this it's February 26th. Last night I went to a church meeting and felt I should take some certain pictures with me, although I didn't want to show them to anyone that night really. As I flipped through them on the train, I was in His presence and wanting to be in His presence with Him more, and I came upon this picture and understood it:
"You, You, Lord, alone with You,
You fill me with color, Lord.
(And You fill me with light!)
(Click to see the smiles)
By Yoko - January 20, 2006
Yoko says this picture is a combination of faith, Bible verses, and nature.
"If we stick to Jesus, everybody will be a smiley face & smiling with each other."
Originally it didn't have the blue water in the branches; she added it later: "We don't have to worry about getting the Spirit because He's one with God -- when we stick to Jesus, He waters us."
Monday, January 23, 2006
Be Lifted Up!
By Ramone - January 16, 2006
"Oh Jesus, be lifted up!"
It's what I wanted to say & do --all I could say & do-- as I thought of my dear friend whose marriage was falling apart.
"Oh Jesus, be lifted up!
Sun of righteousness, rise, arise,
with healing in your wings.
Be lifted up, Jeus.
Draw all men & women unto Yourself.
Be lifted up... shine Your light.
Your self, Shine, Jesus... Shine.
Oh, please shine. Please be lifted up.
In my life, my heart and in the world,
Jesus, be lifted up."
Be lifted up in their lives, Lord. Comfort them and be next to them, draw them closer to You. I don't know what'll happen between them and to them, or if my hopes of reconciliation for them will ever happen. But Jesus, be lifted up in their situation and in their lives. Your shining, Your love, will bring comfort to them and make them smile, make them happy again. Your sun will bring them the deepest healing. My friends, I love you, and I pray that He will hold you tight now and that You know He's with you and never leaves you.
The Conveyor Belt
By Ramone - January 15, 2006
It's actually maybe called a "moving walkway", but "conveyor belt" is the first term I thought of and conveys the sense better. "Escalator" was another possibility.
My friend DB and I were separately planning different ways to help out groups of people in Osaka around Christmas time... but our different plans turned out to not work out this time. Yet we still felt God calling us and pulling us, even though our temporary hopes had been shot. I could still feel His path, His pull, calling me to those people.
I'd had to let go of a lot of self-imposed pressure to do stuff, let go of a bunch of good ideas. Sure, I knew these things before I began praying and before I began thinking of doing something. But actually experiencing the Spirit's halting & sifting was something remarkable. I felt myself becoming more still, and I could sense the difference in me between striving and Spirit, and I knew I had to just let the Spirit do His thing and let this be all Spirit.
The result (as I can envision it from here) is less glorious than I would've hoped for, and it's a low, humble path. Yet it's huge. It's bigger than I thought, bigger than I can imagine. When you give up your ideas and let the Spirit have His way, you give up your pride and your desires for something "big" to happen. Thus it's the humble, low, path. But putting it into His hands (instead of yours) means that it's bigger than you can imagine, and that you're part of something huge because you're part of His plan.
All the while I can feel something like a conveyor belt underneath me, aimed towards the people I was praying for. DB understood exactly how I felt and we had a good, wondering laugh at it! That's what happens when you rest in the Spirit -- you begin to see that He's moving things, He's in control, and it's bigger than you can see, but you have to let Him have it, you have to give up control and trying to shape it.
When Yoko saw this later, she remarked that God was giving me a lot of pictures of "paths" (see these: On His Path, Rain Down, Oct.9).
"It always has more & more; it doesn't end, and it's right in front of you. Sometimes even though you're on the right way you've wondered about it. I think God is giving you a lot of consolations... we still want a clear 'Yes' for the first step, but He's telling you that you don't have to worry about where & what to do; we just have to trust Him."
After my talk with DB that first night (December 3rd), we walked to the subway station and encountered... a moving walkway! I took a picture of it and couldn't help but put it in our Japanese New Year's postcard, just for fun. And just for Jesus. (Thanks, Jesus!)
Sunday, January 22, 2006
By Ramone - January 13, 2006
"I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest,
and give Him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth."
- Isaiah 62
By Ramone - January 12, 2006
"The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy...
Say to those with fearful heaerts,
'Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come...
He will come to save you.'
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs."
- Isaiah 35
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
(click on photo to view larger)
By Ramone - January 11, 2006
I was changing subway lines when I got a flash of a picture of blue banners. The feeling was of His love, and in a time of darkness. What ensued was a bit of a struggle with me and God. Or rather, a struggle between me and some things I've learned & felt in the last few years.
I'm not into the militant warfare movements in Christianity. I believe we are the redeemed, the ones purchased by His blood. But many people these days are fond of envisioning the church as the "army of the Lord" in the end times, and forget that when Scripture uses that expression it is usually not talking about God's people, but rather about angelic hosts or often about judgments God is bringing against His people (see Joel 2 for example).
It was difficult at one particular place where I craved time to adore Christ, to worship Him, to minister to Him and hear His heart, but the leadership of the church worshiped mainly for warfare. Okay, anyway, so you can see I've had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to war symbols!
Then He gives me this picture. So I need to see this from Your heart, Lord. Help me understand what this means, and the beauty with which You see us. The first verse I remembered was Song of Songs 6:4, which I put on the third picture:
I used NIV for the text, but just now in comparing I looked at the NKJV and noticed that the words "an army" are added by translators. So in Hebrew it would then say, "You are awesome as with banners".
I wondered how to draw this picture of blue banners, and how to make the people below look. Carrying crosses? No, too reminiscient of the Crusades. So often we carry a physical "cross" but are not carrying the Cross. It's easy to march "in His name" but much more difficult---and humbling---to march in His steps, in His agape love, in His grace.
Finally I realized that no matter how hard I would try, I could not see the people holding the banners. Why? Because it's not about us. It's about Him. He's calling us as a faceless people, a people who will be interested in carrying forth His glory---the glory of His humble agape love---instead of being seen as those on the "right side".
Tirzah? The Amplified Bible notes that Tirzah was the first capital of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). God raised up Jeroboam as an adversary to Solomon because of Solomon's unfaithfulness. It seems Jeroboam was a good person & hard worker for Solomon, but after the Lord said He would use Jeroboam to divide Solomon's kingdom, Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam and he fled to Egypt. When Solomon died and his son Rehoboam began his reign, the people of Israel called for Jeroboam to represent them and voice their pains of how they had suffered under Solomon's forced labor. Jeroboam still wanted to serve the king and was willing to, but asked that their heavy load be lightened. Rehoboam was given this advice by his father's advisors:
"If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants."
Unfortunately Rehoboam rejected their advice and threatened to make the Israelites' load heavier. He was proud and did not want to be a servant; instead he wanted to be served. He wanted control. At this point, however, Jeroboam represented the servants who wanted to want to serve the king. Jeroboam would later turn away from the Lord, but in this, the beginning of his kingdom, there was a beautiful thing, which I think is what the Lord means in the Song of Songs text: Here in Tirzah, servants gathered who wanted to honor their king, who wanted to serve a loving king. This was Jeroboam's first love (which he later left).
I think God is saying that our love & service for Him (and for our leaders) is something that can't be forced, something that can't be ordered. He wants us to be free, and He wants our love freely given to Him. He's not asking us to go out and make the world obedient to Him. He's asking us to love Him and know that He is not like Rehoboam, but that He is a loving King who is enraptured with us, and we will know this more and more as we hold onto Him, our first love.
My God! Do we even know half of what we're carrying? You're amazing, awesome! You melt me and floor me! Holding that banner, holding up You! You are our Banner! You are the one we hold up! You are our place of rest! Carrying Your loving grace, we're holding that banner of Your voice, the voice of rushing waters soothing & restoring us, the voice of Your love drowning our sins in the depths of the sea! And in this way, in this carrying of Your banner, Your loving word, the "earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14).
This is my favorite of the three pictures. I can't help but think that these banners are the "banners of the redeemed". I had a reflex-flinch reaction to the banners, but when I bring "His banner" in the light of His presence, His love, His cross, His word, above all His agape grace, it makes me smile. We're the redeemed, carrying that banner humbly. Not showing our righteousness to the world, but carrying instead His love. Not saying who's lost and who's saved, but saying instead "Look at Him! Look what He's done for us!"
Like an army it does require courage... courage to lift up the One, the Banner, His blue banner of Redemption, to party with the Father joyfully as He embraces the ones we would otherwise reject. It's His party for them and for us, the ocean of His love & forgiveness for us.
The night I saw the banners and was walking to a part-time job, I was still talking with the Lord and wrestling with the warlike messages we've put onto Christ's gospel. I felt like I should detour over to the park. I only had a few minutes before work, but I had time to see this beautiful new little waterfall-fountain in Utsubo park which reminded me of the picture of the banners...
It was just beautiful and peaceful. The flood-lights were even blue! I looked up and saw the moon just like I drew it in the above pictures. I wish this little picture could show the joy, peace & bubbling beauty of the water bouncing down the steps! It was then I thought of how in Revelation His voice is like the sound of rushing waters. All that soothing peace, all that joy---all of that is the "banner" we're to carry into the darkness.
Isn't the Lord calling us to put down our banners (what we think is Him but is not Him), and pick up His banner? Isn't He calling us in the Church back to our first love, back to proclaiming the gospel of His grace?
Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
By Ramone - January 7, 2006
Okay, here's another one I don't fully understand! (Lord, show me Your heart, show me the meaning! Thank You! Why didn't I ask You sooner? Sheesh, haha!) I bought a new Japanese calligraphy pen at Tokyu Hands, this time blue, and wanted to draw something on the way home, but nothing came and I didn't just want to do it/something for the pen's sake, ya know!
Lately (that day, in fact) I was thinking of how the gospel book of Luke is blue. Matthew is red. Mark? Dunno. Orange? John? Maybe red, or black. Dunno. But Luke is blue! I don't know exactly why, it's just a feeling I have (and Yoko understands it, haha). Maybe it has something to do with the amount of red-letter at the beginning of Matthew. **shrug**
After eating at home & typing, I got on the subway to go back to work. I was going to take out my little New Testament, but pulled out the pad & pen. The picture of blue ribbons quickly flashed in my mind, and then Jesus coming behind them.
But what was it? His coming? Luke? His ascension (His coming the same way He left
in Luke/Acts)? His birth? Later at home with Yoko I got it! It's Luke 15 -- His party! And His coming! Three times in Luke 15 He calls us to rejoice with Him and be glad!
Why "blue"? I'm not too sure. Someone once said it was symbolic of royalty, and hey that's cool (but I haven't yet discovered that Biblically). Somehow I also feel that blue is the color of repentance (but I don't know why!) ... and it's the message of John the Baptist in Luke 3. I used blue for the repenting person in this picture, mainly 'cause I didn't know what other color to use... but now for some reason I feel it's blue. Oh well!
A thing that struck me the other day when reading Luke 15 was how the younger son wanted to come back and be a servant, and the Father was like, "No, you're still My son." I don't know why, but He speaks to me very personally through that... that no matter what you've done, to Him you were a son to begin with, and even now no matter where you've gone, you're still His son. Come back! Hear Him speak it into your heart, and be truly happy in the glad party He throws for you with His arms open wide!
By Ramone - January 6, 2006
Okay, I don't know exactly what all of this one means. I sat down the other day wanting to draw something, and was going to do one thing that's been on the shelf for awhile, but then I felt this one when I opened up my Bible to Isaiah 55. Now that I look at it here, the mountains look like eyes and the water like a mouth, smiling...
Ho, every one that thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money
for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which
does not satisfy?
Hearken diligently to Me, and
eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come to Me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an
My steadfast, sure love for David.
- Isaiah 55:1-3 (RSV)
Monday, January 02, 2006
The Trumpet Over Osaka
By Ramone - January 1, 2006
On the Wednesday before the New Year I was sitting in a cafe near my job, praying and reading through some different passages for a couple hours. The one that struck me the most was Gideon. At the end I sketched a little picture, and drew it like this while at Yoko's parents' home after eating New Year's dinner (mmm, sukiyaki!). The style is something I'm playing around with recently using a Japanese calligraphy pen and then a regular pen on top of it in gesture style. Regular buildings and famous sights of Osaka are visible in the sunset. Over them a trumpet is sounding...
When Yoko and I were coming home on the train, I explained it...
When I was at the cafe reading about Gideon, I was startled to read Judges 6:34, which says,
"Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him."
The trumpet is something that my friend Hazel really helped me understand. It's God's aching cry of "Ho!", "Come!" What was new for me was reading that the Spirit came upon Gideon and he blew the trumpet, and the people came to help him overthrow the Midianites.
Many times I've tried to blow the trumpet and awaken others to what God's laid on our hearts, but the Spirit will blow the trumpet, if you know what I mean! He will send who He wants to send. And even then, as with Gideon, not all will stay --- so that He may be seen, that His glory may be lifted up and that we know deliverance is from Him.
Like Gideon, even though God's spoken to me and put His heart in me, I've kept asking for sign after sign, wanting reassurance even though His first word was sure deliverance. When God sent Gideon into the enemy camp for the final sign (hearing the dream an enemy soldier had of Gideon's victory), Gideon was finally sure of God's victory and told his soldiers what the angels had told him, "God's given the Midianites into your hands!"
As I told that part to Yoko, I said, "But now God is sharing His passion & saying, 'I've given the whole Midianite camp into your hands!'" Yoko and I fell silent & smiling into His heavy tangible presence, stopped at His word, presence & awesomeness.
His victory is sure in us, in Osaka. The Spirit will blow the trumpet... thank You, God.