Sunday, August 20, 2006
By Ramone - August 19, 2006
"Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known.
Lord, even here in this land. Amen."
- Habakkuk 3:2, adapted
By Ramone - August 18, 2006
This came out of a feeling of simply being overwhelmed by God's vastness, His majesty, His power, His hugeness, and then knowing that just the same is His love for us! It's like laying on the grass at night, looking at the stars, beholding God, and then knowing all He's done, and just soaking in Him!
The words are an extract from a poem or prayer by Amy Carmichael which a sister in Christ posted on a forum recently:
I have no wordAt night after showering I sometimes get distracted by the night sky when hanging my towel outside. We can't see here much in Osaka city, but occasionally you can see clouds or a couple stars. It's always nice, especially at night when everything & everyone is still and quiet. If you think about how big and far away all those things are, and then how small you are and how many people there are on the earth, how big the earth is, then you kind of begin to blow your mind with how great God is, how big He is, how vast and awesome. And yet He loves us! He is love! He loves each of us personally!
But neither hath the bird,
And it is heard;
My heart is singing, singing all day long,
In quiet joy to Thee Who art my song.
For as Thy majesty
So is Thy mercy,
So is Thy mercy.
My Lord and My God.
A worship song by Lynn Deshazo captures the feeling:
We are a moment, You are foreverAnd we remember the words of the great hymn, "How Great Thou Art"--
Lord of the ages, God before time
We are a vapor, You are eternal
Love everlasting, reigning on high
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands hath made
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
...How great Thou art!
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
By Ramone & Yoko - August 13, 2006
On the 20th of last month, I think Yoko and I were talking or just relaxing in the living room, and she suddenly saw this picture. She did a small sketch and we talked about it. I painted it with light watercolor almost a month later based on her sketch. About the picture, she said:
"Father was sad seeing Jesus on the cross, but through there it will be blessings and salvation for us."There are a couple other pictures and a friend's poem on this theme--the Father's grief--but I hesitate to speak about it because I really don't know what to say to do His heart justice, you know? It's so big, so wonderful, so heavy... and I don't want to speak of it lightly. But at the same time, I'm thankful He gave the picture to Yoko, and I know I shouldn't be afraid of talking about it more. If anything, I think this is what He is calling us all to see and know.
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son... 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."Lord, I don't know what to say. But Father, thank You for sharing this. Help me look deeper, look stronger, and look longer at Your tears, at the blessing You've poured out on us through Your grief for Your Son. Help me never lose sight of it, Father. And help me never cease to speak of it and to not be shy about it. Thank You for what You gave---You gave everything, and we received everything in Him. Thank You so much, Father. Jesus, please continue to make Father's love for You known to us and fill us with His heart.
(Zechariah 12:10, 13:1)
"I have made You [Father] known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them."
By Ramone - August 13, 2006
I was looking at this picture (and its sequel) and thought about how the people in the picture(s) were carrying His heart in the harvest. And I thought that well, really, it's His heart that carries us! That's where this picture came from, and from remembering what Peter said. I had this quick idea or image of people being carried along or blown along by His breath! ("Breath" and "Spirit" are the same word in Greek)... Carried along His Spirit, the breath of Him whose name is Love!
Swimming in Scripture
By Ramone - August 13, 2006
One day I was reading through my large NIV Worship Bible and I was overwhelmed with God's love and His sheer vastness!! His words, His awesomeness... it's so much BIGGER than me! I was in the Psalms, but I felt like I was swimming in Scripture! It's when you really see that He's just so much bigger, and you know so very, very little, and He's so, so big!
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Carrying His Heart II
By Ramone - August 11, 2006
Part Two (see Part One)
This is actually the same picture as Part I, but the difference is the physical appearance. We could say the first was the spiritual view, the second is the physical view. But this one also looks at the people as people, instead of things to be harvested like wheat. This is a picture of where God's heart is, where His heart is calling us to---to the people He so dearly loves in the cities, towns, and nations all around us every day.
The person in the middle foreground is not "picking up" His heart. Rather, he/she is bending over from the sheer weight of His love for people. Like a woman would bend over when in travail, in birth pains. That's what His heart is put inside of us for! To give birth, birth to people's salvation, birth to more sons & daughters of God, born again of His heart, of the Spirit.
Carrying His Heart
By Ramone - August 11, 2006
Part One of Two
I was emailing with some brother & sisters in Christ on a yahoo group forum, and the topic was the widow who put two coins in the temple treasury. The moderator (Don) put the story up and asked if we had any thoughts or anything from the Lord about the story. Someone commented, and I wrote this afterwards:
Another thing is the way we view what's necessary "to carry forward God's work." The temple treasury was the place that the temple was bankrolled. It was the place where the temple was provided for. Often we take the world's perspective that you need money in order to carry forward His work. But this incident and Jesus' words turns the world's idea completely upside down. It shows not only which God values more, but it also shows which He uses (and is useable to Him) for carrying out His work on earth. He doesn't need money. He does need all of your heart.I was really surprised what the Lord helped me understand about this, about "the harvest"... about how it's not about how many people or about how much funding we have that determines our "ability". Rather, He's looking for people who will carry His heart!
In a way it connects to Don's last choice of stories, when Mary anointed Jesus' feet and the disciples (particularly Judas) thought the money could be better spent. No, Jesus said. She did what was in her heart, and like the widow, she gave everything. She gave everything from her heart to Him---and somehow that does a lot more than what the world might "logically" say her perfume money could have done for the poor in Bethany. The voice of the world valued the money and saw it as the greatest way to accomplish good, but Jesus saw Mary & the widow's hearts as their most valuable possessions, and He saw that their hearts could accomplish the greatest good.
Isn't that encouragement for us? We're not limited by our resources, our means, our finances... instead He works in the currency of the heart! And that is how His great flame spreads over the earth! That is how the river of His love is carried! Hey, this is a word for me, too! Thanks, Lord. Thank You so much, Jesus.
This led immediately to another picture...
By Ramone - August 10, 2006
This is a re-working of this picture, with added Japanese text. The meaning and feeling is the same... stretching and being hugged by Jesus! It's His utter joy of holding us, His kids, and our utter joy of stretching into His arms.
It's the first time I've done a second version of a picture. Originally I was a bit disappointed, but now it's got its own character, you know? Also, the person took the appearance of a kid from old Japan because I was reading this book and really liked Yushi Nomura's pictures. Also, I think it makes the picture more Japanese, which is always cool, even if a little funny because the style is so old. (^_^)
Initially I wasn't happy with the above version (because of the placement of the text), so I did another (below), but in retrospect the top is the best. I also finished a draft with English text so you can see what it says. (^_^)
By Ramone - August 9, 2006
I love the word "grace", especially since reading Philip Yancey's book, "What's So Amazing About Grace?" ... I began to see His grace at work in my life, and it became like a physical reality to me in my life instead of a concept. You know when "Grace" walks into the room! I wrote a little about it once or twice on my homepage.
The central character here is "megumi", the word for "grace" in Japanese. It's also often a girl's name. I like the way it sounds. The text in English is the same in Japanese basically, two verses of Amazing Grace. The Japanese translation is not the most commonly used one, but a newer one that I use because I think it's easier to understand.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Osaka Evangelistic Tabernacle
By Ramone - August 7, 2006
"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you." (Luke 14:13-14)
Yesterday I finally got to visit the Osaka Evangelistic Tabernacle (Japanese link). I've been meaning to visit it for quite some time. Some months ago Yoko & I and a friend donated some clothes to their ministry. I think I first saw the place when my friend Edward was a missionary here and we got somewhat lost walking in Tennoji and ended up in the area.
OET is in Nishinari-ku in Osaka, between Shin-Imamiya and Dobutsuen-mae stations. The area has a lot of day-laborers, homeless people, drunk people, poor people, yakuza (mafia), down-and-outs, etc. It's exactly where a church should be! (^_^)
They always have lots of papers and flyers stuck to the walls outside of the church, telling people about Jesus and upcoming ministry services. Every day they have a five-o'clock service for homeless people and afterwards they give out some food and drinks. I went to the Sunday service. It had about forty people including the worship team, but sometimes they have visiting ministries and other meetings, and the house can get packed! The building is old, and no one looks picture-perfect. But it's beautiful. They are all beautiful. I hope to visit again and get to know them better.
(Here are some more pictures of their ministry to the needy. This one is my favorite).
Above the Darkness
By Ramone - August 5, 2006
"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... For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." (Colossians 2)
I've been reading Neil Anderson's book, "The Bondage Breaker" recently and really began to realize how the Truth triumphs over darkness. Often we think of encountering the enemy as a battle based on power, based on strength. But it's not. The truth is that Christ has won, and in Him we are above the darkness!! He has seated us with Him!
Anderson wrote in his book:
Spiritual authority is not a tug-of-war on a horizontal plane; it is a vertical chain of command. Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18); He's at the top. He has given His authority and power to His servants to be exercised in His name (Luke 10:17); we're underneath Him. And Satan and his demons? They're at the bottom, subject to the authority Christ has invested in us. They have no more right to rule your life than a buck private has to order a general to clean the latrine.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
By Ramone - August 1, 2006
Today my wife and I took the bus into town, and on the bus I got the idea for this picture. I was still waking up in a way, but in another way I was in "wide focus". Sometimes I call it "Zombie mode"---you know, it's when you're not totally there!
It reminded me of how I often feel when deep into theological stuff---I kind of go into "wide focus" and zone out to the world in front of me, concerned rather with lofty ideas, universal truths and galactic perspectives. I love God, so you know, that stuff is really real, too, but sometimes I get so caught up in it that that I somehow lose touch with God. Maybe it's when things get too abstract, I don't know.
But I sense Him in those times calling me away from the wide-shot and back to the reality in front of me (right in front of my nose, you could say!). And it's there--if I'm willing to put down the galactic breakthrough that of course I'm on the verge of realizing--it's there that I find Him. Part of me gets broken in the process of doing that, but if I'll accept the brokenness, I'll find Him stronger and more powerfully & wonderfully than I could have by staying "in space", so to speak.
(P.S. "Wide Focus" is kind of a sequel to this picture.)
Swimming in Theology
By Ramone - August 1, 2006
I drew this picture in the wee hours of this morning while trying to go to sleep. My mind had been busy running through a lot of theological things from a few different discussions, and I began to miss the Lord. I don't know if anyone else had or has this problem (but I bet I'm not the only one), but it's easy for me to get lost in that stuff. So I was missing Him, and I began kind of searching or sifting through everything in my mind, looking for Him. I felt like I was swimming! That's when I kind of saw this picture.
There are probably lots of ways to "interpret" the picture, but that's the way it arrived. It means that when we're looking through theology or philosophy, when we're searching & arguing & discussing, truly deep inside what we're looking for is His love for us. Just like how last night I was longing for His love, I think many (maybe most or even all) of us are truly searching for that, because He's made us for His love. The other things in the ocean of theology (pictured here) are sometimes good, sometimes bad. There are real things, real doctrines & beliefs, and then there are controversial ones. But the heart longs for Him, for His love.
(P.S. This picture is kind of a follow-up to "Swimming in Theology".)
See also: "Rest From a Multitude" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)