Monday, June 18, 2007
The Open Window
By Ramone - June 16, 2007
Yesterday morning I woke up after a bad dream in which I had succombed to a temptation. I shook it off and rested in the Lord. Then soon after my wife came to wake me up (she's staying with the baby downstairs -- I sleep upstairs on nights when I have to work the next day). She opened the window and said that the rain had stopped for now, and that the sky was beautiful.
After she left, I stayed in bed a little longer lazing and listening to worship music which was playing on my alarm clock. While there, the enemy tried to tempt me with the memory of the bad dream, and for a moment it was strong. Then I looked outside through the open window, still laying in bed. The clouds are always so beautiful after rain, and the color of everything is brigher, more vivid, and more alive.
He showed me--or awoke in me--the understanding that life is so much bigger than the temptation! There is a whole REAL world outside! He kind of opened my eyes... my reality, my life, who I am in Him and who I love (my son & wife) is in that world, in the big REAL world. Get up and live in it! Don't let temptation tell you that you gotta stay down!
He opened my eyes and carried me out through that window, so to speak. Temptation encloses you so that all you can see is what you're being tempted to do or think about. But seeing through God's window, the life--the big and real life--outside opens your eyes past the temptation. He broke the temptation's strength, it's trap, it's box.
Thank You for doing that, God! Thank You for yesterday's "way of escape" (1 Corinthians 10:13). You're always the One who carries me out of it. And thank You for using my wife to open it and call my attention to it. Thank You, God.
Later that night I was being tempted again in a strong way, feeling I would succomb, and You reminded me of the open window! You reminded me of what You told me -- that the real life is waiting for me beyond temptation's lying box. That's when I knew I ought to make a picture of this so I would remember. Thank You for that again, Lord God.
Be My Wind
By Ramone - June 15, 2007
As I was worshiping and singing my son to sleep the night before, I began to sing the old Vineyard song, "Be the Centre." The chorus goes,
Be the fire in my heartAs I sang "Be the wind in my sails" in worship that night, God really spoke to me through the word picture. Be the wind in my sails! If I'm in a sailboat, He must be the wind that moves me! I wrote that night,
Be the wind in these sails
Be the reason that I live
I try to sail where I want to go, to take this boat (me) where I want You to go. And I row in my own strength, finally wearing myself out. Your Spirit isn't blowing. But then in You I rest, and let Your wind take me where You want me --the boat-- to go! Maybe the sails have been up all along and I was just resisting Your wind.As my friend Cindy and I talked about this a day after I drew this picture, we agreed that we are just much more blessed when it's all Him and not us! The flesh wants some credit & praise, but we're much happier when it's Him and we know how completely not us it is, but it's Him!
Other times I think I know where You're going and I try to row in order to help You get me there faster! This usually results in getting "there" a little off target! In Your time, Lord! It works much better that way--perfectly! Carry me along, Lord. Help me toss my oars.
Lord, carry me with the gentle wind of Your breath, Your Holy Spirit!
The One Who Seeks My Face
By Ramone - June 14, 2007
The other night as I should have been going to bed, I started talking with God for awhile. During that time I opened up to the Psalms and read 24:6 --
"Such is the generation that seeks him, who seeks your face, O God of Jacob."I remembered and noted in my Bible what I'd learned from Haroldo Camacho about how in Hebrew this passage is actually in the singular and that "generation" is actually "lifetime". Thus a more literal reading would be:
"Such is the lifetime of the one that seeks him, who seeks your face, O God of Jacob."The whole Psalm, then, in context, is talking about Christ as our King who won the victory, ascended the hill of the Lord, and for whom we lift up our gates to welcome in with praises for saving us while we were in a besieged city.
This night, however, God had something different planned for me. I noticed an NIV footnote about the part "seeks your face, O God of Jacob". The Syric and Septuagint read this way, and so do two Hebrew manuscripts, I think. But all other Hebrew manuscripts read "...face, O Jacob"! Thus it would read:
"Such is the lifetime of the one that seeks him, who seeks your face, O Jacob."Whoa! Suddenly He showed me that He is seeking MY face!
In recent years many hungry-for-God Christians have begun to "seek His face". They're looking for Him, not for religion, not for tradition, not for style, programs or services. They want God. They're after Him and will not be satisfied with anything less than Him Himself!
Sometimes I get distracted and forget that I am one of them. I am made to seek His face, I am made to pursue Him and to be caught by Him. But when there's too much of me, too much talking or doing stuff outside of His presence, eventually I wear down and He brings me back to who I really am and what I really want to do... like this picture.
So yes! Seek His face! Not just what His hands can give you, but look for Him Himself, look into His eyes, and look through His eyes at the world, know the beating of His heart, be moved with the things that move Him, be grieved with the griefs of His heart, and bless with the blessings of His heart. Seek His face!
But this night! This night He rocked me! I wrote the following...
You tell me to seek Your face, Lord. But tonight You told me that You spend Your lifetime (and mine) seeking MY face!! Thank You, Lord. You want us to lovingly seek Your face, tenderly & intimately. But You, You seek OUR faces! You lovingly & tenderly want & wait for us to turn to You and face You! Thank You! You long for our intimacy!The picture came on the night of the 14th. Earlier that night as I waited for the train, He brought all this back to my mind and reminded me of how that morning I had been bothered by something and my wife, Yoko, knew something was wrong...
Like my son & wife longing for my presence, my face! I never thought of You much in baby Timothy -- recently he just gets so happy when he sees me! Lord, break my pride and my agenda of what I want to do, even to do for You, and still me to hear Your call, to feel You lovingly touching my face to turn it to Yours... You want me to face You. You want to see my face! You're seeking my face!"My dove in the clefts of the rock,Like Exodus 33 -- the cleft of the rock... it's the way it had to be, us in the cleft, protected from Your glory. But now in Christ...!! Now in Christ, hallelu Yah! Now the veil has been rent in Him, and the way to the Holy of Holies -- Your face! -- is open! And You beg us to come in! You want us to see Your face -- the glory of You in Christ's face!
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show Me your face,
let Me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely." (Song 2:14)
Like a Bridegroom tenderly removing His bride's veil are You to us... "Show Me your face, let me hear your voice." "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." (Isa.62:5)
Thank You, Lord! Thank You for seeking our faces! And thank You for calling us and stirring us to seek Your face.
"Your face, Lord, I will seek!"
Like Yoko, You (God) know, and You want me to look at You and share, let it out so You can give me love in Your eyes and in Your words. I often don't look because I think I can figure it out, handle it, that I have to, or because I'm proud and I just want to do this. Sometimes I don't want to let it go.
But Your love (and hers!) always sets me free! You seek my face -- when I'm down or bothered by something or troubled or hurting. You gently wait for me and lovingly urge me to look at You in the face, because then I will share, then I will be free and I will see Your love -- losing myself in Your eyes -- and will hear Your loving words.
Thank You, Lord, always.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
By Ramone - June 2, 2007
I was holding my baby son in the relax-chair waiting for him to burp. I had my head leaning to one side so his could be erect and leaning against mine. It felt good to hold him. I thanked You, Jesus, for this. I don't know if or how I'd thanked You before, but it felt like the first time (it always does with You! Fresh & forgetful of all save for now!).
I realized that You are the Creator and I have You to thank. Sometimes I doubt or wonder or temporarily lose my eyes of faith, seeing by sight instead. But as I felt that way that night, I yet thanked You and recognized You, and truly knew You are the Creator. You gave me this. You gave me him, my son. You gave us each other.
And then I realized, Father is holding me now! Holding us! And this is how You feel about me, holding me! You're happy and blessed and thankful to hold me! Your love swells like mine & even more, and now You've made me cry and given me a blessed small taste of Your love, Papa. Thank You.
The Choice to Love
By Ramone - June 7, 2007
This one started one day while I was teaching in class back in February. I think I asked the student a question somehow related to the textbook, "What's the most important thing in life?" I can't remember how the student answered, and I'm sure if I had to answer I probably didn't answer in deep honesty -- it's much easier to ask those kinds of questions than answer them! But the question got me inside. What is the most important thing in life?
Honestly, I knew the answer for me: God. God is the most important thing in life.
It sounds like some kind of obligatory answer I have to give, that I ought to give because I know He is supposed to be the most important thing in my life. But in moments of stillness in His presence, I do know it's true and I truly truly know He is the most important thing in my life. But the mere sound of saying such a thing sounds too much like the "correct answer", like the I'm-trying-to-be-spiritual answer. It sounds like that so much that I instantly doubt my sincerity in saying such a thing, and wonder if I'm saying it just because I should, because I have to or ought to.
But then the question somehow quickly flipped back on me:
What is the most important thing to Him?
The answer came and melts me: Me.
If I ask Him this question, He says, "You are the most important thing to Me."
I am the most important thing to Him, not because He has to make me the most important thing, but because He wants to! I am His priority because He has chosen to make me important to Him!
And that is agape love! It is a choice to love, and through that the river will flow and overflows. Thank You, God! Because of His choice to love us, the river of His love and blessing flows into our lives and overflows.
This is a picture that shows that choice -- His choice to give us love, and also our choice to let in His love as He knockes on the doors of our hearts, and finally our choice to give the love He gave us to others.
Because of our surrender to His love, His love flows even wider into our lives. And when we find the gates of our heart shut to those who have wounded us in some way, He calls us to choose to extend to them the agape love He chose to give us. As we enter His choice to love (to agape), the floodgates open onto the dry and barren land, not only in others' hearts, but in our own hearts! When we cut off others by refusing to give them His love, part of us inside dries up and doesn't experience His refreshing, cooling, life-generating, healing and restoring water. But as we choose to open the gates of our heart to let His love flow through to others, as we enter His choice to love, then the river of life pours through.
What is it that Jesus said about this in John 7:38?
"Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said,As I jotted down a quick note about this after class, I felt Him saying,
streams of living water will flow from within him."
"Open the gates, open the gates of your heart. Open the gates."
Note: if you have trouble opening the gates of your heart -- choosing to love -- don't be worried. That's normal. We need His help to do that, too! Just ask Him to make you willing to be made willing to give His love to someone. And as you do that, ask Him to make you willing to be made willing to receive His love, too! Because the choice & act of giving His love is not merely you "giving" something, but it is actually you receiving something -- receiving and accepting the love He already has for someone else which you may not have been willing to accept because of the pain or wound you felt from them. When we're wounded or upset at someone, the gates of our heart close toward that person, and the last thing we want to do is give them love! But God saw their deeds ahead of time and gave His Son for them! Just like He saw your deeds & mine long before we did them, yet He chose to love us by giving His Son's life for us. All He's asking us to do in this is see that the same love He has for us He also has for them. We may not always feel that this is true, particularly when we're hurt, but as we choose to forgive and recognize the truth of His love toward us and towards them, we can ask Him to make us willing to be made willing to recognize it for them, too.
Blessings in Him as you choose to enter into His love -- and ask Him to enable you to do that -- and as you enter into His love for others. Blessings in Him as you let His water of life come through, His Spirit, to refresh you and bring forth life to the dried land!
P.S. When I showed this picture to a friend last night, it struck me immediately that the picture looks downright "prophetic"... in the sense that many people receive visions or dreams or words or prophecies. It looks like something out of Isaiah. As I briefly explained it to my friend, I wondered that maybe to some the story behind it might sound a bit too plain -- that it's just about love, about the choice to love. It doesn't sound very "prophetic". But let me tell you, it is!! It is what Isaiah and the prophets all talked about -- the choice of God to give agape love to us in the death and resurrection of Son! His choice to love and choosing to enter into His love is what opens the window in the skies!
Monday, June 11, 2007
Resting in Eden
By Ramone - June 9, 2007
Recently I re-visited the old hymn "Lord I Believe a Rest Remains" written by Charles Wesley around 1740. The tune on the CyberHymnal was difficult for me to sing with it, so I began praying for help to write a new tune. As I did that, a new chorus came out of it, and the "Thees" and "Thous" changed to the more personal "You" and "Your"...
Lord, I believe a rest remainsAs I finished writing and went to bed, I became overwhelmed with the truth of His Sabbath-rest -- Jesus, You are my Sabbath-rest!! I scribbled in tears:
For all Your people won*
A rest where pure enjoyment reigns
And You are loved alone
A rest where all our soul's desire
Is fixed on things above (is fixed on You above!)
Where fear, and sin, and grief expire
Cast out by perfect love
Oh! I need Your rest
Jesus, You are my rest
Because of Your blood
I'm in the Sabbath of Your love
Oh, that I now the rest might know
Believe, and enter in
Now, Savior, now the the power bestow
And let me cease from sin
Remove this hardness from my heart
This unbelief remove
To me the rest of faith impart
The Sabbath of Your love
Jesus, this rocks me. You rock me. I only half know what I'm writing about or composing here! Your rest means so much to me, Lord! As I worshiped here at the end, it started to hit me ---- You started to hit me! You really ARE my rest! My complete rest! You're my rest from sinning! I can't believe it Jesus! But yes and Hallelu Jesus, Hallelu Yahweh! I am completely safe in You, safe in Your love, Jesus! Thank You. Please never stop rocking me with this night & day, Jesus. And rock others! Many! In Your name of love and rest, Jesus, AMEN! So be it!You really have brought us back to Eden, Lord. Thank You.
P.S. (A couple days later) Jesus! You are my complete rest! You really are! It makes me want to cry. Thank You so much, Jesus, for giving me rest, for giving me Yourself, for being my rest. Thank You.
By Ramone - June 8, 2007
I saw this verse the other day and was struck by it -- this joyful praise that God is bringing forth from His people because He has redeemed them, He has rebuilt them on their ruins:
"But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds," declares the Lord,
"because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares."
This is what the Lord says: "I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents
and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins."
- Jeremiah 30:17-18 God is raising up His people from their ruins. Sometimes we don't know why things are ruined in our lives, and we don't know why we go through so much difficulty. But He is bringing us to Him, and He has redeemed us. He redeems our destroyed, wounded and hurt lives. He redeems each brokenness in our life and brings praise from out of it.
I kind of saw this as a picture of His Church, His bride, rebuilt on her ruins, His people rising up from their ruins all over the earth and praising Him in bursts of joy! Oh God! Bring us forth! Build us on our ruins! Bring forth Your priases, the praises of the redeemed rebuilt on our ruins! In Jesus' name, amen and let it be so!
"I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful."
- Jeremiah 31:4
By Ramone - June 8, 2007
The night before as I was walking home I was feeling like a failure ...with temptation, resisting, warfare, standing. I knew it was a time of testing, a time that He's bringing me through -- like GOLD! (Job 23:10)
But in the midst of all these feelings, I felt that He still had me, He still held onto me. And I held onto Him, onto His lifeline! It's strong! It picks me up! His hold is stronger & won't let me go, my Daddy! (^_^) He's pulling me along, and I'm securely held to Him from deep inside.
This is kind of how I saw it that night -- although for some reason I didn't draw it at night, but at daytime. Just seemed right. It felt like there was this cord in the midst of all my failures and unsteadiness, this cord that went up from me to Him, and He was pulling me off the ground!
I didn't know how to show the "attachment" of the lifeline to me, so I drew the Baby Bjorn harness that we use to carry baby Timothy around in! I thought it's beautiful and appropriate -- just as we hold Timothy in it close to us, He holds us close to Him, harnessed to Him by faith and by His faithfulness. The cord of faith is strong in Him -- He holds it!
By Ramone - June 3, 2007
In the morning as I was laying in bed waking up, I was tempted remembering old memories or fantasies. I seemed dead in resisting and seemed to have only have a will to wish to try to resist.
Then I saw this picture, the crosses over a sunset, focused on the middle cross. And I thought of His Sabbath love...
My works, my sins, are finished on His cross. He finished the work and He finished my sins. The Son set and He brought eternal Sabbath-rest into my life---into our lives.
My sins are finished. My old life is finished. I died with Him and am living in Him now, in the eternal Sabbath of His love, His life.
(P.S. That kind of killed the temptation and desire to sin in my heart!)
(P.P.S. He's been rocking me with the depths and finished-ness of His Sabbath-rest lately! See this post!)
See also: "Revelation" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)
By Ramone - May 27, 2007
This came while I was talking with my good friend David who lives in Kobe. He came down to Osaka to visit me, my wife and our new baby, Timothy. While there David and I talked about a lot of things. A LOT of things! One of the things we talked about was based on Romans 6, about how before we knew God we were powerless to do His will. Yes, we were "free" -- but we were free in the darkness. By God entering into our lives, a door is opened out of the darkness and into the light. Some people think that His will is constrictive, but it's the exact opposite. It is the way out! It is the way of freedom, the way that we could not have gone while lost in the darkness! So in your times of temptation, your times of feeling constricted or hemmed in by what you think you have to do, remember that God is an open door to freedom. Bless you in His love, in His freedom that is the greatest freedom imaginable!
And I Will Run To You
By Ramone - May 21 & 23, 2007
You ever want to just run to Him? Run away from it all into a lonely place just to be with Him? I will run to You! I want to run...! It's a longing in my heart, it's the longing in my heart for You.
The title comes from the words of a song by Darlene Zschech:
And I will run to YouOh, here's a similar picture
To Your words of truth
Not by might, not by power
But by the Spirit of God
Yes I will run the race
Till I see Your face
Oh let me live in the glory of Your grace
of a similar longing
and a similar song: Desert Longing
Blessings with Him as you run!
By Ramone - May 20 & June 4, 2007
You brought me out of the womb;It's so beautiful to watch my wife nursing baby Timothy. Watching her joy as she watches him is beautiful to behold, and I can only begin to understand the love that she feels for him in this time, as well as the love he feels for her as he looks up at her and receives life from her. In watching all of this I'm learning so much about God, His love, and how He feels about us. Thank You for all of this, God.
You made me trust in You even at my mother's breast.
From birth I was cast upon You;
from my mother's womb You have been my God.
- Psalm 22:9-10