Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I Will Cling
By Ramone - March 28, 2006
I'd actually thought of this picture or something like it a good while ago, but had never got it right. This time as I ran & clung to the cross, I saw it -- and saw it in color. Jesus is good! He's the place you can run to, where you're accepted, where you can hide, where you can be yourself, where you don't have to be afraid of being rejected.
I was thinking about something a friend said to me about something I'd drawn and it kind of hurt. I know my friend didn't mean it to, but it was hard for me. I realized that nothing of what I've done is really anything, that He is all that matters, and being with Him. I fled to the cross, the one place of rest, the place where I was accepted, the only place I could hold onto, the only place I could cling to.
I had my guitar & songbook on my lap, and I began singing "The Old Rugged Cross"...
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
But I love that old cross, where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it someday for a crown
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For 'twas on that old cross that You suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me
So I'll cherish Your old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to Your old rugged cross
And exchange it someday for a crown
And I remembered the words from another worship song, "All My Days",
There is a place where I am accepted
There is a shelter where I am protected
You are my Savior, my true companion
And I will pursue You with reckless abandon
Yeah!! Amen, Jesus.
By His Love
By Ramone - March 27, 2006
(Continued from Part 2)...
The name of this ink & water painting comes from a worship song,
Let the walls fall down
Let the walls fall down
Let the walls fall down
By His love, let the walls fall down.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility ... Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household."
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
By Ramone - March 20, 2006
I was reading from Song of Songs 8:6-7 the other day and got this simple picture. I was left with a lot of white space and realized, yes, the words needed to go there. I adapted them to what I felt He was telling me and in the light of the cross, through which we know Love. (Look deep into that fire, His fire, Love, and that is what you will see). (^_^)
In searching for a name for this picture, I looked at the Scripture again and read that word usually rendered "jealousy" can also read as "ardor". The Yahoo reference dictionary entry says that "ardor" means:
1. Fiery intensity of feeling. (See Synonyms at passion)
2. Strong enthusiasm or devotion; zeal.
3. Intense heat or glow, as of fire.
Wow! God is cool! This is His love that burns for us, that cannot be washed away by many rivers or by any waters. It is a jealous love, jealous for us, full of fiery intensity, passion and feeling. This is His love for you and for me. Remember that His love never washes away. Our feelings go up and down, rise and wane. But His love for us never dies, never goes out.
By Ramone - March 18, 2006
I was walking home one night and struggling with some things when I felt this picture... that His love was always pouring down on me, even now, even then when I wasn't feeling great or "doing" great. His mighty rivers pour down on you and me all the time, incessant, unceasingly.
On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heaven's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
- From "Here is Love" by William Rees & William Edwards
(From the hymn database at http://www.cyberhymnal.org/)
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
By Ramone - Monday afternoon, March 13, 2006
(Continued from Part 1)...
It is so rare for it to snow in Osaka! This day, walking with my friend, it snowed! It's such a promise from God!
"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord.
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be
white as snow; though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
This walk led to a third picture. See Part 3.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
He Shall Reign
By Ramone - March 12, 2006
I first sketched this back on February 22 and it's taken awhile to complete. What I'd intended as a swirl of color in my first version instead turned out like a massive disco rainbow!
I had shared with MH (a friend) the common mens' struggle and asked for prayer, and he said he'd read through the book of Nahum and read its pronunciations of judgment as God's cry of vengeance against the spirits that trouble us all. At his suggestion I looked at the book and WOW! There was the same language in Nahum as in Revelation... I began to learn to rejoice at the coming judgment God is bringing! God knows the spirits that trouble us individually, and He has pronounced victory over and condemnation for the spirits that trouble His beloved children, His bride! He has condemned the great harlot spirits in you, in me, and in all His children!
After sketching the picture, I scribbled in my notes: "This is the cry that arises from the redeemed when He condemns the great prostitute of the earth... And I rejoice that He deals and has dealt judgment on her, on the spirit that sheds my blood (and the blood of so many of my brothers & sisters). And I rejoice the Lamb has overcome." In that vein I nearly named this picture, "In One Hour".
The words are taken from Revelation and are the lyrics to the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's "Messiah" oratorio. I've changed the traditional spelling of the word because it's actually two words: "Hallelu" and "Yah"... the "Yah" meaning "Yahweh". Hallelujah means "Praise Yahweh!" "Praise the LORD!"
Why these pictures? The worshiper is the redeemed, the one(s) crying out these praises to God with His angels arising. The swirl of colors is just what I pictured behind it... an ever-rising swirl of colors! Perhaps it's the smoke from the condemnation of the enemy which rises forever and ever? Even in God's final judgment, His agape is showing and is somehow beautiful (like a rainbow of colors), and we will praise Him for it forever and ever.
The feet... I wanted to put Christ in that spot, and I couldn't think of how to portray Him. Then I thought of a verse in Isaiah,
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"
And I just remembered there's a parallel verse in Nahum!
"Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, O Judah,
and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
they will be completely destroyed."
How beautiful are His feet! His feet brought us the gospel of peace, the good news of our salvation, the news of our reconciliation, and it is by His wounds that we are healed. He said to us, "Here is your God!" because we didn't really know what Father was like, but the Son has showed us! His feet show us that "No more will the wicked (spirits) invade us, but they will be completely destoryed!" We have been, are being and will be set free indeed to celebrate Him and priase Him forever and ever!
Yesterday, when I looked at it as it was nearly finished, I wondered about the color of the person and the feet (and I felt shy because, well, they're too white! Sorry for people with other skin-tones!)... I noticed they were the same and suddenly was struck by the fact that they're both flesh. I remembered these words from the book of Hebrews:
"Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death-—that is, the devil—- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery..."
And this eternal truth:
"Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted."
What can I say? Praise You, Lord! You have won! You have redeemed me! You have become like me and understand how I feel and how I am beset at times by the enemy. You have condemned that enemy! Thank You, Lord, thank You! Help me see the many beautiful colors that arise out of Your pronuncation of judgment, Your merciful and wonderful sacrifice of Yourself because You love me so much. Thank You for this beautiful thing, Lord. I can't wait to see more and more clearly, and to join in the everlasting song of praise to You, the Lamb of God! Hallelu Yah! Praise You, Lord!
See also: "Triumph!" (at Heart For Adventists)
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
By Ramone - March 6, 2006
I was praying and thinking of a lot of difficult things. But as I stood there in His presence, I enjoyed the moment and thought of this picture. I ought to say received, though! It was just funny, this big "J" in the sky! The way I saw the "J" looked like oil pastel letters I'd drawn for work, but I usually don't like oil pastels because they're messy & smell funky. So I tried to use crayon, but it didn't produce the same visual texture that I'd "seen" when I received the picture, so I had to draw a new version and submitted to using oil pastels.
Why oil pastels? Well, maybe it's the symbolism of oil -- the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is His presence that truly changed everything for me on the balcony when I was trying to pray. It's what burst through all that blackness junk and in an instant relieved me of my weights. (And yes, the Holy Spirit is messy... He will mess up our little desire to keep everything neat).
Why red? Because Jesus' blood changed everything. And when He comes and His Spirit, His presence stops you, He really stops you! (Red, like a stop sign, haha!)
And hey, I've got to give God credit: I enjoy this picture's style & humor. He's a funny God, and He's got style. Thanks, God, thank You for stopping me with Your presence & changing everything with Your blood and Your Spirit.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Prayer for There
By Ramone - March 3, 2006
"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near."
- Luke 21:28
This is a picture I saw the other night while Yoko was taking care of my feet (they needed some work, so she fixed 'em and then lovingly gave me this nice foot massage!) ...it was while I was relaxing that I saw this picture & drew it soon afterwards when I got home.
I thought of different meanings (like Job & the storm), but the basic impression was the verse that I put above. It's the same as this picture which I had almost three years ago. Except I think now the message is also saying "SOON!" I think He's saying that these things (dark things in the world) are beginning to happen more and more and it will become harder to count them, like the clouds, and that the time is coming for us to stand in the middle of this and lift up our heads because He is coming.
"Stand and do not be afraid. By faith you stand firm."
When Yoko saw it she felt like he (the person in the picture) was asking something of God, and that God had it for him and was going to give it to him and he was going to receive it. If what we've been asking for is Him, His return, then indeed He is saying, "YES, SOON!" We see all the terrible and tragic things in the world and we mourn with those who mourn, but we know that God turns every cross into a resurrection, and the Resurrection Himself is coming soon! Soon it will all be over and eternity will have truly begun.
The first few verses of Isaiah 60 seem to fit well, although it wasn't the impression I got when I saw it, though it's certainly true:
"Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and His glory appears over you."
What does it mean to stand up and shine? I think it's first good to know what it means that "the glory of the Lord rises upon you".
All I can say is that I can stand simply because He loves me, because He has lifted me out of my darkness, and in sight of the world's darkness I know there is hope because He lifted me out of mine. There is no dark too dark for Him, and He can and will bring redemption right through the worst time to ever come on the earth. His glory in my life hasn't been in great wonders or miracles (although hey, I can't rule that out!). Instead it's been His awesome love and forgiveness, even for me a sinner more deep than any of you know! He sees me in all the darkness only I can see, and He sees light!
Stand in that! Stand humbly in that undeserved and unconditional and heart-melting love of His for you, for me, for all of us! That is the glory of the Lord to me, and is greater than anything I can describe, that I'm His beloved.
Isn't it deep darkness to not know His agape love? Isn't that the true darkness in the world, the places and hearts that don't know His unconditional and tender love? Hasn't His light in our lives been His love which drives away all our darkness?
How do we shine that? Well, receive it!
And I was thinking maybe the timing of receiving the picture had something to do with it. My wife's job is taking care of peoples' feet, doing footcare and then afterwards giving a reflexology massage (her salon's name, "Chura" means "beautiful" in Okinawan). She works all day and doesn't have to take care of my feet in her off time, but she wanted to. She didn't have to give me the nice massage at the end either, but she wanted to and I just lay in the chair relaxing and absorbing her love! She puts some aromatic oil on your feet for the massage, too! It was while I was receiving her love this way that I saw this picture.
Aren't there several pictures we can see through her actions that tell us about "shining" the Lord's glory? Jesus came as a servant, and He took the lowest job and washed His disciples' unclean feet. Isn't He calling us to wash one another's feet? A sinful woman anointed Jesus with oil and wiped His feet with her hair and her tears. Isn't He showing that when we humbly love one another (washing each others' feet) we are in fact washing His feet just as that sinful woman did?
Yoko didn't have to do that for me, but she wanted to because she loves me so much (thank You, Yoko!). Jesus loves us, cleans us and cares for us (like Yoko's footcare). But He loves us so much more! Like the massage, He goes the extra mile to put us at peace and soothe our souls. And He delights to do that, not just because it's His job, but because He loves us. He wants to make us happy! Isn't He also calling us to love one another like He loves us? Not to do these things to one another "because it's our job", but to be filled with His heart and genuinely care for others and lavish on others unconditional love, undeserved, unmerited?
Shine! His loving light is upon you! Shine! Be filled with His love! Shine! Pour that humble and heart-melting love on everyone you meet! This is the day of darkness, and this love will shine in the night, just as His love has shone in our nights! His agape love will be the beacon of His glory in the day of darkness.
See also: "Ready In Me" (at Heart For Adventists)
Friday, March 03, 2006
The Song of Moses
By Ramone - March 2, 2006
"He saved them from the hand of the foe;
from the hand of the enemy He redeemed them.
The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them survived."
- Psalm 106:10-11
It suddenly occurred to me one day that when Moses & Israel crossed the Red Sea, it was a picture of what Christ has done for us on the Cross. It's very basic, but somehow I'd never really understood that!
The Israelites had just been miraculously delivered by God from Egypt, which was for them the land of slavery, when they found themselves trapped against the Red Sea with the angry Egyptians at their heels -- hoping to re-enslave them again. They freaked out, but God had brought them this way. He then parted the Red Sea and led the Israelites through on dry ground. The Egyptians tried to follow but got stuck, and the waters closed in over them.
When we come to God, He delivers us from many things, but soon after we find ourselves trapped again and feel just like the Israelites -- old bondage trying to reclaim us and an impossible way before us. But God has brought us this way and asks us to look up to Him, and He will show us what He has done for us.
In the Cross He has made a way through what was impossible for us to escape from. He has drowned all our sins (all our personal 'ancient Egyptians') in the ocean of His love.
"Who is a God like You,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of His inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
You will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."
- Micah 7:18-19
"I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you."
- Isaiah 44:22
"As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
- Psalm 103:12
It's very discouraging when the old bondages and things you were slave to seem always be chasing you down, wanting to re-capture you and re-enslave you. Often we feel cornered by them, just like the Israelites felt trapped when they came to the sea, but God makes a way right through the very thing that seemed impossible to go through!
As we behold the Cross, we see that He has drowned these at the bottom of the sea of His love. It's that "aaah" feeling of coming up out of His deliverance and being able to do nothing more than raise your arms and praise Him, "Thank You, God, I praise You."
The name comes from the Song of Moses* in Exodus 15.
"The enemy boasted,
'I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
and my hand will destroy them.'
But You blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.
Who among the gods is like You, O LORD?
Who is like You—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
You stretched out your right hand
and the earth swallowed them.
In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling."
Remember this when your enemy boasts that he will come and re-enslave you. Remember when the way seems blocked. He has washed away our sins in the depths of the sea. He has washed away our tormenters, our slavery, our old sins & snares which want to chase us down & keep us in captivity. He has drowned them, and He is leading us in His strength, He is guiding us home, and He will take us all the way.
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
- Colossians 2:13-15
"I'll never know how much it cost
to see my sin upon that Cross."
Thank You, Jesus. Sometimes right after You free me from a bondage, I feel like I'm in an endless desert, lost. And my enemies come at me seeming stronger than before, aiming to re-possess me because I'm lost and trapped. But Lord! You led me and take me through what seems like lost, desert country, but You still guide me, even into a position where my enemies surround me. This You do because You are going to utterly destroy them and put an everlasting smile on my face, and all in all show me Your glory in all things.
* There are three places in Scripture which mention the phrase, "The Song of Moses": Exodus 15, Deuteronomy 32, and Revelation 15 where it is sung with the Song of the Lamb.
The Sight of God
By Ramone - February 27, 2006
I sketched this back on the 24th after being rocked by understandings of His light (see these pictures - Identity, Shown, Walking By Day).
I began seeing that the real "light" is His love, His sight, His agape, His path of grace. And I thought of some dirty places in town, particularly in Nishinari ward (which is where I imagined this picture and tried to make it look like) which we'd probably try to hurry through or close our noses when we go through there. It has many homeless people, many day laborers, many people who may be mentally unstable, and many others who seem generally to be depressed or without hope.
What we see is the dirt, but what God sees is different.
When I showed this to Yoko & her sister Michi, Michi said it reminded her of the verse in Isaiah 43 that talks about how we're precious to God...
"Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life."
He loved us so very, very much that He gave His Son in exchange for us...
"God loved the world so very, very much that he gave his only Son.
Because he did that, everyone who believes in him will not lose his life,
but will live for ever."
- John 3:16
By Ramone, at Jesus Family Church - February 25, 2006
Craig (a visiting minster) was praying for a lady and felt that sometimes she feels alone. He asked everyone to stretch their hands toward her and for intercessors to picture that they were lifting her up. He said like they held up Moses' arms, we hold each other up, and you're not alone. I began to draw the church, but really the Church throughout the world, this magnificent thing God birthed, that lifts each other up & bears each others' burdens, lifting each other up to God.
Someone is praying for you & loves you. You're not alone. God's given you family to lift you up.
Walking by Day
By Ramone - February 24, 2006
As I write this, it's February 27th 2007. It's taken me a year to write about this little picture. It was an attempt to show "walking by day" -- by the light of His Spirit, His love. There are many things we see that we can use as guides, but when His agape love opens up, that's where we need to follow. Where His refreshing Spirit opens up, that's our way. Below I posted the explanation I'd written on the back of the picture, which I'd written over the original drawing.
(Click to read larger)
• "End Times Light" (at Heart For Adventists)
• "The Light of Life" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)
The Lord Will Provide
By Ramone & Yoko - January 15, 2006
(written Thursday, March 8, 2007)
My wife and her sister run a footcare salon. This picture is about a situation they went through in 2005 (and will likely experience again).
Here in Japan, most business do not register themselves with the government, because if you do register your business, it means you have to pay higher taxes. But to be above-the-table, open & honest, Yoko & Michi chose to go the legit way, to walk in the light. When tax time came, of course things were high. Now among tax-paying businesses in Japan, basically everyone reports somewhat falsely. You collect a lot of expensive receipts and turn them in with your taxes in order to pay less, and whether or not those receipts had anything to do with your business or not, you claim them as if they were business expenditures anyway. Basically everyone does this here. The government tax man even advised Yoko & Michi to "be smart" the next year (i.e., include more receipts for "business expenditures").
When praying about this situation (what to do---since it is the cultural way to do taxes) Yoko saw a picture of a fish with a cross in its mouth.
It was His answer, reminding us of the story in Matthew of Jesus telling Peter to go get a fish... in which he would find ample amount to pay for taxes (taxes that really, they didn't have to pay). So Yoko & Michi payed. The next year the same situation resurfaced, and we prayed and felt God's presence strongly. Two more pictures came, but the second one isn't finished yet (the third is here). God is awesome, over and over again!