Monday, March 31, 2008
The Plundering of Sheol
(Please click to see the faces of the people!)
By Ramone - March 31, 2008
"I will ransom them from the power of Sheol;NIV (margin)
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O Sheol, is your destruction?"
- Hosea 13:14
You have ascended on high,
You have led captivity captive.
- Psalm 68:18 NKJV It's the moment when Jesus died, when His Spirit descended to Hades (Sheol) to release its captives (and preach to the gospel to the disobedient spirits in tartarus/the abyss). The people are seen joyfully receiving Him. The veil of the temple and the rocks of the tombs broke at the same time, and that's the first two layers here. The next layer (3rd, on top) is the Law. I believe it represents the law of sin & death that kept us from being with Him. The law is shown "broken" because He fulfilled it. In fulfilling the law and by His blood, the power of sin was broken over us all, making the way for Jesus to take the captives of Sheol to heaven, and freeing us all from death!
"O Death, where is your sting?NKJV This event also seems to be like a mini-picture of the last day, of Jesus' coming, doesn't it! While making this picture, I couldn't escape feeling that the rocks of the tombs accidentally ended up looking like clouds, too! And I feel like "their" story (the ones taken to heaven from Sheol when Jesus died and rose from the grave) is also our story. I guess this picture is of Jesus breaking through every layer of 'death' --- body (rocks), spiritual (veil), and soul (law).
O Hades, where is your victory?"
The sting of death is sin,
and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
By the way, I didn't mean to make it look like Jesus' hands were on the Law; they were supposed to be above it -- it's broken and He's going between the pieces. (Now hey, doesn't that sound like that flaming torch Abraham saw going between the pieces of the sacrifices in Genesis! Was that "sunset" event in Genesis 15 a picture of God's passionate, jealous-for-us Holy and unquenchable Spirit fulfilling His Promise by going through the broken body of Christ? God made a way to "get through" to us in our state of death through His Son's sacrifice!)
One thing that you may not notice is Jesus' orange feet. They are His glowing feet of burnished bronze (see Revelation 1-2). It's His judgment. Most traditional pictures of "The Harrowing of Hell" (that is, "The Plundering/Sacking of Hades") show tartarus/the abyss beneath and cowering condemned spirits & people, but in this picture I didn't see that, even though I tried to. All I saw was His orange feet. It's difficult to picture His judgment -- I think this is Him telling me (and maybe others) not to try to picture it, but to focus on Him. Because all righteousness and righteous judgment is in Him. It's only by sitting at His feet and staring into His love that we will ever begin to see and understand His judgment, which comes from His jealous agape love for us.
I saved the most beautiful part for last to tell about -- the red layer, the frame. Inside we see the rocks broken, the veil rent, the Law's power and barrier broken, and Jesus' body broken. The red layer is Father's broken heart, which made all of this possible. It was because of His broken heart that all of this happened, and that we are all set free.
When Christ died, He broke every layer of every thing that hindered us from being with Him, whether we are dead or alive. And as He descended into Sheol and brought its captives out, so too He brings us out of all captivity today. He is the God who would stop at nothing to be with us--even at the rending of His own heart.
You can read some of the story behind making this picture and comments that led up to it here on the FAF forum.
If you want to read more about the Biblical teaching behind this event (which the church has believed throughout most of its nearly 2,000-year history), see this post by my spiritual mum Hazel Holland, along with another view of this event from His heart: "The Lion of Judah Has Triumphed!" She and I are both heavily indebted to a wonderful study we both read independently by our friend Dr. Cherry Brandstater (which can be read here: "Spirit") that helped open our eyes to the wonderful, wonderful thing Jesus did when He died and was "in the grave".
By Ramone - March 30, 2008
The other night as I read Romans 10, I was struck and stuck at the simple, bold words, "Jesus is Lord." They're beautiful, powerful. It's the truth. Jesus, You are the Lord. You are God. You are the Master. Jesus, You are Lord. This is the "pillar" of everything we are and do, Jesus is Lord. You are the Pillar, Jesus. You are our support, our center, our strong tower, and the one we gather around and look up to. Jesus is Lord! Hallelu Yah!
Friday, March 28, 2008
By Ramone - March 27, 2008
As I was teaching a private student in class, we ran across the word "palm tree" in a text reading so I drew a little sketch of a palm tree to make sure he knew what it was. As soon as I did that, I was strangely moved from deep in my heart and spirit, and found it was like I wanted to cry in joy and love inside. I made up my mind to read about Jesus' "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem in Matthew 21 on the way home after class.
As I stood and waited for the subway train to arrive, I began to look up Matthew 21 and found that I myself was swaying! It was the strangest thing for me, because I'm not used to the Spirit moving my body, but He was doing that and He was pouring His love and joy into me, and I just about cried right there waiting for the train... wondering with amazement as He swayed my body back and forth like a palm branch in someone's hand.
A very large crowd that had come for the feast heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. They spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut palm branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,I asked God what this meant, and though I still don't fully understand, then I prayed,"Hosanna!"When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the King of Israel!"
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
"Hosanna in the highest!""Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
"I tell you," He replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes."
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
- from the Gospel accounts
"Lord, let me be like a palm branch, hailing You, Lord!"
You're calling us to be palm branches, to hail Your arrival and welcome You in! Could it also be that You have often or largely been outside of "Jerusalem", and You are calling us to hail You as you come to us before You come for us? Are You calling us to go before You, even in "Your church", and with our praises and casting our cloaks (works) on the ground, to make the way for You to come back to "Your city"?
Give us eyes to see You coming into our hearts and amongst us in our churches, Lord, and give us humility to recognize the many ways we have not welcomed You, and the places that we do need to welcome You!
So often we don't let You speak "in church" but keep You outside unless You work through our rituals and our schedule. It reminds me of how Tommy Tenney in "God Chasers" thought that Your path into Jerusalem probably went right past the Temple, and that the noise of all the people praising Jesus probably upset the priests and workers inside -- "Hey, we're trying to praise God, here! We're trying to pray for the Messiah to come!"
It's easy for us to feel as if we do better than them, but how often do we make room for Jesus to speak in our midst? 1st Corinthian 14:26-30 says,
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church... And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.And Hebrews 2:12, Jesus declares and promises to His Father,
"I will declare Your name to My brothers and sisters;How often do we hear Jesus singing Father's praises in our midst, in our "church" meetings? How often do we give room for "everyone" to speak and share what the Holy Spirit is saying to them? Don't we rather force everyone to "sit down" while one speaker speaks? Is this one reason why the body is weak today? Doesn't the Holy Spirit intending to reveal His heart through each one of us?
in the mist of their assembly I will sing your praises."
Maybe this is why the people gathered around Jesus were so often the "least of these", the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the "sinners", women and children... not often the religious elite. These "babes" were the ones who hailed Him and welcomed Him, while the religious resented the King's coming into His own city.
Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?"Isn't God calling us to become like children to enter the Kingdom? To sit at His feet with the humility of a child, run up into His arms, and embrace Him? Isn't the final picture of His people one where they're still holding palm branches, waving them and praising their King for all eternity?
And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read,
'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise'?"
- Matthew 21:14-16
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands."Lord, so often we don't make room for You! Send us forth, Lord, to proclaim Your praises, because we have not always made room for You in Your own city, among Your own people in the church. Make us into palm branches, Lord! Places for You to walk on, and banners to let You come in and be Yourself among us! Lord, we want to hear You speak and sing to Father! But we don't always let You speak, especially not through "babes" and the "least of these"... often we don't let them in, either. Forgive us, Lord! We need You, and we need them. Break our programs and patterns and rituals that squeeze You out, Lord! Break the things of our hearts that do not give You room. Teach us to wait on You and to wait in eager expectation for Your word, spoken even through the children among us.
- Revelation 7:9
The cry from the Dwell song "Hosanna" (by Scott Reed) is the cry I believe He is birthing in intercessors in His church today, because we need Him, not more of us! We need the presence and voice of the King!
Oh, save us, O LordThis is a picture of Him joyfully calling us to become praising kids in His train as He comes into His temple! To joyfully let Him interrupt us, to lay ourselves down like palm branches, and center all our attention on Him because He loves us and He is coming here! Kids, children of God! Get your palm branches ready! He's coming to us!
by the power of Your name
We'll sing of the victory
Sing of the King
Oh, save us, O Lord
by Your merciful hand
We'll sing to the nations
Sing to our land
Friday, March 21, 2008
Great Raging Love!
By Ramone - March 19, 2008
I recently re-visited an email I received from my friend Hazel last year after asking for prayer about something. In her email she had said something about "the love that rages in God's heart for us, His bride", and that made me think of this picture. The picture comes with these words from His heart:
The storm that rages in your life is nothingI felt it, knew it, and in a way I saw this picture. But I didn't know how to draw it!! And I'm still not sure I pulled it off, but He moved me to do this one, and I was filled with His Spirit and moved in His love as I began drawing with the ink brushes.
compared to the love that rages in His heart
for you, His bride.
The full section of Hazel's email I referred to is here below:
He is our life. He is the AIR we breathe. Apart form Him we have no being... We have no life. He is the fresh wind of the Spirit and He wants to blow over us and heal our sickness of heart. Our Bridegroom/Redeemer wants us to honor and love one another as He sees us NOT as we see ourselves. His assessment of us is based upon different information from what we see. God is gazing upon us as His Bride whose life is hidden in Christ... a Bride without spot of wrinkle. That condition is not something we will become someday. No! It is who we are NOW in Christ. It will always be IN Christ. It will never be our correct behavior that God is smiling at and pleased with. No! The just shall live by faith in Christ's finished work--NOT our finished work! We will always be dependent on HIS life lived through us by faith.P.S. I should also mention that Hazel's picture "I AM" (scroll down on this page) provided inspiration and the color palette for what I saw in this picture. (^_^)
I believe the many diseases that afflict the body of Christ (hardly much difference between the church and the world as far as cancer statistics go) is because there is a spirit behind some of these sicknesses that can only be healed as we repent of our hardness of heart and our stubborn refusal to trust God... trust His timing and His ways of doing things. He is faithful and He is good and that is why He disciplines those He loves.
Perhaps God is calling us to stand in the gap and repent on behalf of those who have no heart to repent until the body comes into alignment with the spirit of God and fulfills it's destiny by coming into community with one another and with Him... If our identity is IN Christ isn't our identity made certain by our heritage in Him? Isn't He awakening within us a desire for greater intimacy with Him so that in His presence we can dance upon the waves of difficulties and fears and disappointments?
I know for myself at times it is easy to turn away from that call to intimacy with Him because I do not want face all that "stuff." I just can't bear the thought of facing my own shortcomings and failures and deferred hopes and dreams. So I say, "No, God... not today... not right now... some other time I'll come away with You."
But God invites us to come to Him in the midst of the storm as He comes walking towards us on the turbulent water. He invites us to leave the safety of the "boat" and do something that we know we can never do in the natural. He wants us to trust in the strength of our Bridegroom/King. He invites us to join Him to walk on the waves. He invites us to dance with Him on the mountains of fear that seem to easily overwhelm us. He invites us to trust Him to take care of us while we choose to obey His invitation to supernaturally walk on water. He will support us as we keep our eyes focused on Him and not the tidal wave of fear that seems ready to swallow us up.
We are at the center of His heart. We are the apple of His eyes... the focus of His utmost attention. His greatest suffering was also His greatest joy, because the cross released the power necessary for us to follow Him forever. Joy and suffering go hand in hand because out of it are born priceless pearls... We are His priceless treasure.
God I want to know more fully the fellowship of your sufferings and the power of your resurrection so that I may know on a deeper level the kind of love that rages in your heart for me—your Bride. I want to comprehend the truth of this staggering love that sees me without spot or wrinkle. Yes... even now in Your heart and mind you see me/us in that completed stage... spotless and with no defects. But I must trust your love and power because you know all things and you know that the desired result will be brought about by your love and power. Your right hand and strong arm have won the victory. The zeal of the Lord accomplishes what You have already seen in eternity past. I come into agreement to be drawn into your arms and heart forever as Your Bride. You see me in the Spirit, not as I am in the natural... Let me see Your Bride in the Spirit so that I may join you in intercession for the One whom your soul longs for.... Help me to understand that when the "north wind blows" and I cower and hide, my failures are not fatal, and that through them You are helping me understand the unconditional nature of Your love for me. I want to be smitten and undone by Your love so that I can be a carrier of the glory of Your love to others.
The Big Step!
By Ramone - March 14, 2008
The other night I was explaining the picture "Unhooked!" to Yoko, and when I got to the part about holding onto SDA beliefs like the "state of the dead" because of fear, I remembered that I'd felt the same feeling of fear (worry of being deceived & lost) when my friend Hazel had first told me the Biblical truth about keeping the Sabbath day not being what saves us (you can read that story here). And it reminded me of an illustration a friend acted out about that fear...
I had gone to visit Hazel after reading a prophecy she'd been given and that was on the internet at that time. Hearing the Gospel (saved by faith, not by our good works) applied to SDA end-time theology was new to me, but because I had read Romans and the New Testament through twice the year before, the words of the truth resonated in me and I heard God calling me in my heart. But all the years of growing up under an intense conditioning of fear in SDA would not give up without a fight! Even though I knew what was Biblically correct, I still felt fear and felt afraid to take the step into Biblical truth. It felt nervous! The SDA belief had been my security, and now it felt like I was going into a place where it wouldn't be secure...
Shortly after that first meeting, I invited my friends to come with me. I had been doing research into some SDA things and had been sharing it with most of them. At the meeting one friend shared something about "Sabbath" meaning "the Sabbath day" and the Spirit began to shake Hazel and she couldn't contain it. She politely interrupted (saying she couldn't hold it) and said, "JESUS IS YOUR SABBATH!" (For more on that, read this link and this page).
The next day I talked with friends who were at the meeting, who had also felt the Spirit's impact in that statement, "Jesus is your Sabbath!", and had it resonate and reverberate deep in their hearts -- amen! That's right! Jesus is our Sabbath-rest! He will give us rest!
But as we were walking and talking, we also shared about how nervous we felt about it, even though we knew it was right! My friend L.H. illustrated it by standing at the edge of the sidewalk and sticking his foot out, saying, "I feel like this!" And we agreed!
As I explained this to Yoko the other night and told her how I'd experienced the same feeling when the Lord showed me the truth about the "state of the dead" (see the whole story here), I remembered and re-enacted my friend L.H.'s visual illustration. And I realized in my spirit (He said it!) that I needed to draw it! So here it is! (L.H., if you're reading this, sorry the picture doesn't quite look like you! Hehe.)
This is that step of faith that He calls us to make, when we feel like there is no "ground" in front of us, and we don't know if we'll be caught by Him or not after we take the step. It is stepping into trusting Him, stepping into the arms of the living God. In our case, it was leaving what seemed to be "concrete" and finding out it wasn't concrete! And as we made that "step", we found God's arms to be much, much stronger! He became our rest! Not our own foundation, but Him. He is wonderful!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
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Saturday, March 15, 2008
Bezalel & Oholiab
By Ramone - March 14, 2008
Then the Lord said to Moses, "See, I have chosen Bezalel ...and I have filled him with the Spirit of God ...and I have appointed Oholiab to help him"I've been wanting to write some things I've learned about Bezalel & Oholiab for awhile, but the notes have been a bookmark in my Bible since last September. But when opening up my Bible yesterday and feeling led to Exodus (thank You, Lord), I found the notes and was again blessed, inspired and moved by the Spirit. And this picture came, too!
...Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel ...and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab ...the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers ...and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.
So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded."
- Exodus 31:1-11 & 35:30-36:1
Prophetic Artists of Long Ago and of Today
Bezalel & Oholiab were filled with the Spirit so that they could do artwork on the Tabernacle. God fills us with skill, knowledge, talent and ability in all kinds of crafts and arts! Yet this Tabernacle was not some picture in the doctor's office, but it was the specific design by which God would begin to prepare His people to understand what Christ would do for them on the Cross — it was a shadow, a picture of the Atonement. Long ago God used artists prophetically —filling them with His Spirit to make the Tabernacle & Temple and all its symbolic furnishings.
And now in these last days, He is "rebuilding David's fallen tent" — He is rebuilding a temple of praise in His people! (Acts 15) And just as God used artists to make designs and crafts which would shadow Christ and point people to Him, so today He is using Spirit-filled artists to do the same, to draw people back to what His Son has done on the Cross and to Him Himself.
Restoring His Tabernacle!
We are His temple! He is using artists to adorn His temple (people) with pictures of what He has done for us, to point us to Him and His fulfilled, finished work, and to point us to His Spirit who lives in us (who are His temple). Bezalel & Oholiab's art portrayed what was yet to come, but our art portrays what He has done, yet also speaks of what is coming as a result of what He has done!
God is filling us with His Spirit to make art to somehow bride gaps in the church and make His people ONE in Him. He is calling forth artists as intercessors, as those who will paint what they see in His eyes and to preach His reconciliation & presence.
Many people in the church have broken hearts but do not know it, or are told to put on the happy face and not acknowledge the pain inside. But God is using honest (sometimes brutally honest) artists to portray what is inside of us so that it can be brought out into the light and be healed. It is time for the church to go through some Spirit-led "art therapy"! For we are not building a temple that is made with hands, but we are His temple, and if our hearts are broken, then His temple is broken. And God cares about His temple—His people! If we focus on our buildings and our "church services" more than His building (His people), He will tear down our buildings and stop our "having church" programs so that He can heal His people! Will we welcome His healing?
For a long time we have not welcomed unconventional "art" in church — whether dance, drums, painting, finger-painting, banners, miming, etc. We have grown stiff, have become bricks, have resisted expression, and have grown dead in the process. And it is not enough that we ourselves are dead, but we seek to kill the spark of fire and life in people who do rise up in His joy and the giftings He gives them! Enough, God says. He is raising up different unconventional ministries (artists, etc.) and often this will make different traditional people uncomfortable. This needs to happen so that He doesn't have to heal us the hard way! So He is calling us to recognize the "Bezalel's and Oholiab's" and support them (just like Israel supported Bezalel & Oholiab - see Exodus 36) so much until they have to tell us to stop because it's too much!
A Word to the Artists
Exodus contains the detailed instructions of how to build the Tabernacle, but verse 31:4 says that Bezalel, Oholiab and their helpers made many "artistic designs" in and for the Tabernacle. What were they? We don't know! These artists & craftsmen & women were filled with the Spirit to make these. Their work was "full of the Spirit". Their art was given by God and served God's purpose in that day. It was given to draw that generation to Him. Not all prophecy is meant for everyone, and not all Spirit-filled art is meant for everyone. All of our art is to aid the building of the TRUE temple — God's people!
Just like the art of Bezalel & Oholiab, ours too will pass away. And that is okay because "art" is not the point! The point is Jesus and His people. All glory is His! And His heart is concerned with us! Lord, let my art and all of ours humbly be so in Jesus' name! Focus our eyes on what You are focused on, and fill us with Your heart and Your passion, in Jesus' name, amen!
"Bezalel" means "In the Shadow of God" and "Oholiab" means "Father's Shine".
God called upon Bezalel ("In the Shadow of God") and Oholiab ("Father's Shine") to artistically work on the Tabernacle "in the shadow of God" — the Tabernacle itself was a shadow of the complete atonement on the cross done for us by the Messiah, who is "God With Us" and "the out-shining of God's glory" (literal translation of Hebrews 1:3).
Bezalel's name also means "In the Protection of God", and Oholiab's name also means "Father's Tent". In Christ, in His finished work (the cross), we are healed and restored. And now we are "Father's tent". In His protection, in His shadow, under His wings we find healing and restoration. He is calling us to dwell in His shadow just as certainly as He dwells in us (as Jesus said, "Father and I will come and make our home in you"). There we will find healing and rest. Today He is using all kinds of artists and arts to bring much needed healing to His body, to help us get things out that we haven't recognized or expressed before and see His truth in creative ways that will reach deep places in our hearts, showing us how truly we are at rest in His protection & shadow, how truly He is our Light (Father's Shine!), how we shine in Him and to Him (!), and how truly He has made His home in us!
The Picture - Restoring His Testimony and His Bride
In this picture, Bezalel is painting the cross — preaching the cross, the finished work of Christ's all-sufficient atonement for us! It is in the shadow of His cross that we find all healing. Bezalel is holding up the cross and drawing people to Christ's finished work. He is "drawing" people to Jesus! In November the Lord spoke these words to me and to us all,
"Draw" them to Me!Oholiab is praying for the church, the bride. He is laying hands on her and God is healing her. God gave Bezalel & Oholiab the ability to teach what they knew to others, and today God is giving prophetic artists the ability and the call to share healing through art with others who do not know — so that they may have their hearts back and restored. She has taken the brush or pencil and is seeing her heart, and he is praying for her. And he is offering the brush to us, to you, to all of us who view and see!
Praise God because He is restoring His testimony so that we may find healing in His shadow! Praise God because He is restoring our hearts -- He is repairing His fallen tent —us!! We have been broken and fallen, but He is rebuilding His tabernacle —us!
And we are being restored and healed on Royal ground! I had thought that the purple & blue color I used on the ground in this picture was just because it looked good, but no, now He is telling me that it is symbolic of how He has brought us into His family, into His house, into His home, and we are seated with Him in Christ in heavenly places! The colors purple & blue in Scripture signify royalty, and are the colors most often worn as robes on kings. Because of His blood, His royal blood shed for us on the cross, we now stand as His sons and daughters completely!
As He restores us and heals our broken hearts, know that you are part of His house; you are His royal son, His royal daughter, and He is not going to let you go, but you stand on holy, royal ground because of what He's done for you and who you are in Him! His desire is for us all to know that He has called us to be part of His family; He has desired to throw that prodigal robe around each one of us! He wants us all to come and rest at the cross, resting on His achievements instead of ours, resting in our identity in Him as His royal sons & daughters.
The background of the picture shows the setting sun, because the sun is setting on this world, the day is late, and the harvest is here! And He is raising up "Bezalel's & Oholiab's" and others to heal and restore His people, so that they may hold up His loving finished work to the world and rescue many hearts.
Our Heart's Need Is...
By Ramone - March 14, 2008
Our loving heart, like our physical one, needs an inflow as well as an outflow of lifeblood. And like its physical counterpart, our heart is a muscle, a trust muscle. This trust muscle needs to be used and exercised; if it is injured it will slow down or weaken... We need to take responsibility for this loving function of ourselves and use it. Love concealed or love rejected can both kill us.I was struck by these words from the book "Boundaries" (one of those rare books I think every Christian --no, every person-- needs to read). I had never thought of our loving heart like our physical heart. Our physical heart has four chambers and is a muscle, taking in blood and putting it back out. As they said, if bloodflow stops in either direction, we die.
- from Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
Isn't this just what Jesus said—"Love one another as I have loved you"? Won't we die if we don't receive His love? And won't we equally kill ourselves if we don't let His love flow out of us? We are created, made, built to be receivers and givers of His love! It's what we are made for. If we don't let His love & grace flow out of us, we'll die just as surely as if we don't receive His love & grace.
Lord, help me understand this and come into maturity as a heart muscle! Help me become a sucker-and-pumper, Lord! Haha! Seriously, Lord, help me rest in knowing this is what I'm made for, and that my heart will function best and feel most alive when I choose to let Your love & grace come out of me just as surely as I let You & Your loving grace come into me! In Jesus' name, amen!
See also: "Heart Transplant" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)
By Ramone - March 13, 2008
Summary and Note:I drew this picture with ink after a discussion (or three!) with brothers & sisters in Christ on the former Adventist online forum. When we were in Seventh-day Adventism, we believed a lot of things that were clearly unbiblical and at odds with Christianity. Having now left, we understand that our eyes were covered by a spiritual "veil", much like what Paul spoke of in 2nd Corinthians 3.
The message of this picture is primarily for "former Adventists" who have been discussing Adventists and praying for their loved ones in Adventism. Often difficulties in ministering in this area are kind of incompletely summed up as "the veil" (from 2 Corinthians 3), however there are deeper "heart hooks" which are not always "doctrines", but deeper often unconscious reasons we fear to let go of things. It's important to recognize these things and at least recognize that they exist, lest we bombard someone and bang our heads against the wall -- or theirs! -- by focusing on doctrines alone, in which case it's all head-knowledge, and heads butting heads because they don't realize that the heart holds the strings most of the time.
My apologies to anyone who may not understand the message of this picture because of not having been through the things described in it! As I was talking to Yoko tonight [3/17] and describing the meaning to the picture, she mentioned and I agreed that it applies to a heckuva lot more things than the "veil" of Adventism, but that there are many "veils" these things are applicable to! I pray that in talking about this case it will somehow speak of something more widely applicable to you.
In His heart,
Sometimes, however, I think that the "veil" analogy doesn't go deep enough. It sometimes becomes a kind of shortcut explanation when in fact there are deeper things that need to be understood: "It's just the veil... We were just under a veil." Often when we're trying to share the good news with our loved ones in Adventism and they don't "hear", we frustratedly, sadly or angrily shrug, "They're just under the veil."
Yes. And yet No, that's not all. It's not the whole picture because there are deeper things I think the Lord wants us to look at so that the veil may come down. I call them "hooks".
It's easy to say, "I was blinded by Satan", but by saying that it's easy to forget how we were blinded. And the "how" is actually just as --if not more-- important than the net effect. The "veil" is the net effect; the "hooks" are how the net effect is held up, maintained and accomplished.
So remember what you were when you were called. Look back at how and why you believed such & such. Don't get stuck on how far out, heretical and wrong it was. Merely categorizing something does not mean that we've fully understood it. Often people feel like as soon as they've labeled something, they've thus refuted or transcended it. No, applying the name to something ("That's blah-blah-ism!") does not end the argument in your listener. And if you remember, when you were under the veil, neither did it end the argument for you. The why is always more important than the name. And the roots (hooks) of the "why" in our hearts are what we need to look at.
When we were Adventists, we held onto the State of the Dead belief primarily because of fear. We held onto "Sabbath" not because of the logic of it or the refreshing of it, but because deep down inside we were afraid of displeasing God. The logic of the State of the Dead, the Refreshing of Sabbath, etc., these came as supports, "after-proofs", so to speak, additional proofs after the beliefs had already been accepted. When we were Adventists, we held onto 1844 & Sanctuary (etc.) not because they made sense and not merely because we read Ellen White, but we held onto them because if we didn't, then...
That "if we didn't, then..." is very important here. Most of the "hooks" are in this kind of arena. As Adventists, most of our deep idea of "truth" was intellectual, as if we could formulate truth, or rather as if whatever we declared doctrinally would be the determiner of what was and was not possible. "Well, if we say such and such, then someone else could say such & such."
Actually, this practice is in many more head-oriented Christian groups as well, particularly in those nervous about the Spirit (cessationism, etc.). It is a fear of acknowledging the truth based on the fear of what might result from taking Scripture too literally and completely at some point. So the Scripture is bent, muted, re-interpreted, twisted and sometimes re-written in order for us to keep from "allowing" something else to pop up. We are deathly afraid of that "something else"!
So when we talk about the "veil", when we talk with loved ones who still have a veil, we must as the Spirit to intercede, to speak to us in our hearts, and to show us the other person's heart. First off, the other person's heart is far more valuable than the person's doctrinal statement. And 99.9% of the time you're not going to convince the person if you argue doctrine, because such arguments essentially put doctrine up as the end-goal instead of that person's heart as the end goal. We need to be concerned with the person more than with the person's theology. Our own proper beliefs will reflect this kind of love for others, because God is love and His desire is for them. So must ours be.
A good question to ask the Spirit is why someone doesn't believe something. And don't stop short when you figure out the logic of their doctrine, etc. That is the surface, not the root. The root (the "hook") is in the heart. There are deep reasons someone doesn't want to let go of a particular doctrine. These "hooks" to the veil are not primarily doctrine!! They are deeper. They are the deeper attachments we have to the teachings we were raised with or presented. Sometimes they are things like pride, but pride is anchored in fear and in low self-worth. Sometimes they are closely related to "doctrine", but often the doctrinal verbage (or doctrinal/verbal spaghetti) masks the deeper fear.
In order to understand this about others, first we must pray for deeper discernment of the heart. And we must pray for deeper submission to the Lord in our own hearts, so that our motive in whatever we are doing is not just converting doctrines, but that someone's heart may be healed, loved, and that they may know Jesus' love and our love, too. One good thing to do is also to ask the Lord to show you how He brought you out, what the deeper "hooks" were in your own heart that held the "veil" up. And as you look back, you will see His grace at every step. Make sure you ask for Him to help you give that same grace to whomever you're talking to!
Lord, I don't know how to pray, but I've begun to understand these "hooks", and I ask that You show them to me more and more. Show me how I became free, show me the deeper things of the heart, in Jesus' name. Of my heart, and of theirs. Give me grace for them, Lord, and help me not be distracted by doctrinal spaghetti, but see to their hearts' longings and fears. And help me not seek to organize their doctrine, but to love them, to love their hearts, and to speak Your heart for them, and to desire their greatest happiness and joy in You, Jesus. Give me love for them above all! In Jesus' name who did all this and more for me, AMEN!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
By Ramone - March 11, 2008
I'm having a hard time thinking of how to explain this picture! It's a feeling in my spirit and in my soul. It arises from this deep joy and reverberates up through my soul and all around me, and just sets me at peace and at joy.
It's being in Him, knowing I'm in Him, and seeing only Him. It's this peaceful place, and I'm at this edge of a cliff's ledge, falling forward in life. It's so joyful I just fall and want to fall into it more and more! (Of course there's no fear of death! This is a place where death has gone away, where it has long ago been overcome by the Lamb!)
By Ramone - March 10, 2008
I thought of this picture and smiled joyfully at it in my spirit after sharing the picture "Out of the Shadows" with former-Adventist friends on an online forum thread.
My friend Leslie Camacho once wrote a poem which included the words,
The stone rolled awayAnd that's what this is! For a moment "death" seemed to eclipse the sun (the Son), but the stone rolled away and the Light shone brighter than ever! And now,
and the Light emerged
"Your sun will never set again,Happy Easter!
and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end." (Isaiah 60:20)
Blessings in His light!
Blessings in His resurrection!
We are raised with Him!
We are raised in Him!
Alive in the risen-Son!
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Out of the Shadows
By Ramone - March 5, 2008
Out of the shadows—I think I had this feeling or saw this when I was thinking about how He has brought us out of the shadows -- ritual services, Sabbath days, times when we had to go somewhere to meet Him at a specific time on a certain day, or having to fulfill certain requirements or give certain sacrifices or give tithes in order to receive His blessing... no, He has called us out of all of that and into His LIFE! His free, abundant life for us. He left all those old things behind in the grave, and has called us to come out of the shadows of the grave and into His light, into His life.
Out of the grave!
And we out of our sins!
Out with Him—
Into the Life,
Into the Light!