Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Deep


Picture - 'Going Deeper' - click for more on this picture

Your love is an ocean
Its depth beyond knowing
Your call to me is
Come in, come deep
I want to go deep, Lord
I want to go deep
In Your ocean of love, Lord
In the ocean of You
So take me now deeper
In Your heart I pray
To know the fullness of
Your love in Your Son
I want to go deep, Lord
I want to go deep
In Your ocean of love, Lord
In the ocean of You

Oh take me now deeper
Deeper in Your heart
In the depths of Your love, Lord
In the depths of Your Son

You're My All

Jesus, You are my Savior
You're my light, You're my life
You're my all
Jesus, You are my future
I have no other way but You

You're my past
You're my now
My forever is all You
You're my God
You're my blessing
And my reward is all You
I am Yours, You are mine
Amen
Jesus, my rest forever
My best friend beyond the end
You're my all

What Love Is This?

What love is this of Christ my King
You left Your throne to become like me
My sins to bear, my griefs to share
And bring to an end by Your dying

Peace, peace from God above
Your word is mercy
Your name is love
Gazing at Your majesty
We wonder with heaven at Your mystery

______________________________

This song is to the tune of "Greensleeves" and is a rewrite of "What Child is This?" One Christmastime in Osaka I heard music at a Christian bookstore of a choir singing that carol. For whatever reason I could not hear the words of the song, and the effect was just "awe" ...as if I was listening to an ascending, wondering fugue of angels beholding Christ forever and ever, and my spirit was moved.

Hesed


Hesed
Lovingkindness
Faithfulness
Enduring love
Hesed
Sought me out
Hesed, my rest

Hesed
Steadfast love
Undeserved mercy
Unfailing devotion
Hesed
Bound Himself to me
Hesed

Covenant ever-new
Made in eternity-past
Your pledge, my God
Your hesed is my rest


Hesed
Will never leave me
Never forget me
Nor let me go
Hesed
Has brought me home
Hesed, my rest


________________

Link to picture: Hesed (Abraham & Isaac)


Your Presence Changes My World

What can I say to You, Lord
How can I describe how You touch me
And how wonderful You are
My words cannot tell Your awesomeness
All that I can do is bow and thank You
Over and over again (because)

Your love makes my heart soar
Your words soothe my soul
In Your gaze all my fears melt
Your sacrifice brought me peace
Your presence has changed my world

Sometimes I get so down, Lord
I fall and I don't know what to do
But I am not lost in You
You lift up my eyes to see that You died
And because of Your blood I sit at Your side
My sin's finished 'cause You're alive (and now)

And I'll bow before You, Lord
And I will worship You
I will adore You in love
In love for all eternity

Your Presence Changes My World (original)

What can I say to You, Lord
How can I describe how You touch me
And how wonderful You are
My words cannot tell Your awesomeness
All that I can do is bow and thank You
Over and over again (because)

Your love makes my heart soar
Your joy makes me smile
Your face melts me with Your love
You surround me and grace my life
Your presence changes my world

Sometimes I get so down, Lord
I fall and I don't know what to do
But I am not lost in You
You lift up my eyes to see that You died
And 'cause of Your blood I sit at Your side
My sin's finished 'cause You're alive (because)

Your blood washed my heart clean
Your words and voice soothe my soul
When You gaze on me all my fears melt
Your sacrifice brought me peace
Your presence has changed my world

And I'll bow before You, Lord
And I will worship You
I will adore You in love
In love for all eternity

Dedication

Lord, this blog is for You. These are songs You've given me (maybe even poems) that You've birthed in my heart. Not all are perfect, and I'm shy about some of them. But I want to bless Your heart, Lord. And You said that I do bless Your heart. Thank You. I remember that today! Jesus, I love You, and though my songs may fade away, my love for You is undying because You have given me eternal life and I will not die but will live in You and with You forever. So these little bits of love I give to You now will not be forgotten. I may forget them, the world may never know them. And that's okay, Jesus, because they're for You. Thank You, and may they touch Your heart today. In Your name, Jesus, amen.

P.S. Jesus, You said that as we gathered together in Your name, You would be among us and that You would make Your Father known, Your Spirit known in us, and that You would sing praises to Your Father in our midst! Lord, I want to hear Your song(s) of praise to Your Daddy!

P.P.S. Thank You for singing Your song of love over me, Daddy! Thank You for rejoicing over me with Your singing and quieting me in Your love!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Gospel in Star Wars


I just finished watching the original Star Wars trilogy. Two days ago I felt like watching something, perhaps "The Color Purple", but then when I opened up the cabinet and saw Star Wars in front of me, I suddenly wanted to watch that.

Dare I say it's been a spiritual experience?

No, I don't mean the neo-buddhist or new age-ish leanings of the film's mythological religion. But when you watch something that taps into so many veins of the human heart's deep longings (as all good myths and fairy tales do), when you watch with the Holy Spirit in you, well, you never know what He might say to you.

(For all you ol' Adventists: Yes, that means that your angels do indeed go to the movies with you, and more than that God goes with you, too!)

In a word, what I learned in each of the original three movies is Called Out, Brokenness, and Liberation of the Captives.

Star Wars (Episode IV) - Called Out

The first movie begins in the middle of a raging war. Luke Skywalker lives with his aunt and uncle who are farmers. Though he has a strong stirring in his heart, he is made to be a farmer too, until fate (the force) arrives at his doorstep calling him out of the farming life. At first he resists ("That's your uncle talking", Ben says). Ben Kenobi recognizes that the force has arranged these things, and that Luke is being called out. Uncle Owen, however, has tried to raise Luke to "not get involved", but to stay on the farm. Nevermind the war going on. But there is no ignoring the war or the enemy, and tragically Uncle Owen and his wife are killed by the very thing he tried to "stay out of". Thus Luke has no other way to go but out into his destiny. His life will never be the same, and he must learn all he can to survive and fulfill what the force has called him to. He must go out and become who he was born to be.

In the same way, we too have been born into the midst of a raging spiritual war. Try as we might, we cannot escape it. For a time we may try to bide our time "farming", but we were not born to be "of this world". We were born for God's glory, and God is calling us out of living according to the world our eyes see. He is calling us to learn His ways and see as He sees. In fact, the word "church" in Greek means, "the called out ones". That is who we are. The called out ones. The Skywalker family. The ones who overcome the dragon by faith in Jesus Christ. We overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and not loving our lives to the death.

Sadly, many of our "guardians" and even "parents" try to urge us not to follow the faith, not to get "extreme" or "idealistic". Be practical. Don't get weird. Don't get involved. Focus on your tasks. Let others fight the war. The problem is that this is not who we were born to be. And whether or not we know it, God knows who we are and the enemy knows who we are. Neither will leave us alone. God will call us out, and the enemy will try to destroy us ("The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I come that you may have life to its fullest").

Some elders (Ben Kenobi) recognize this calling on our lives and help us on the way, learning the walk of faith and teaching us to see by the Spirit instead of by sight. But other elders speak as Uncle Owen. And right away, like Luke, we may find ourselves in the midst of a bigger battle than we expected. Our first teachers may even be taken away from us (like Ben was taken from Luke), but we are never alone because God will be with us always. Even as children in Him, we overcome the enemy by faith --

I write to you, dear children,
because you have known the Father...
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13-14)

You, dear children, are from God
and have overcome them,
because the One who is in you
is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

For everyone born of God overcomes the world.
This is the victory that has overcome the world,
even our faith.
Who is it that overcomes the world?
Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)

We now set out on the beginning of our journey, already overcomers merely because of who we are, because we have been born of the Spirit, because the Greater One is living in us. We can take heart and do not need to be afraid of the journey and battles that lie ahead of us. We are born overcomers and the force (rather, God!) is on our side. And a powerful ally He is! The most powerful of all.

The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

(For more about this being "Called Out", read this comment below)

The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) - Brokenness

Of course, the enemy is not going to be happy about this. The "griefs" and "trials" Peter spoke of will indeed come, and for a time may seem stronger than ever. Oh how we long to just go back to "farming" when these trials and griefs come! But there is no going back. Even if we have not had our old "farming" life forcibly removed as Luke did, we nonetheless cannot go back. God will not let us go, and the enemy will continue to hunt us whether we like it or not.

The second movie opens with the enemy very upset about being defeated, very upset about the arrival of a new Skywalker on the scene. Probes are sent out to find Luke. More battles come, even some apparent defeats. But all things are happening according to the will of the force, no matter how dark the times appear. Luke's skills develop and his vision is renewed. His old teacher appears to him and directs him to a place where he will receive more training in the way of the Jedi. Though Luke has been at the front of the battle and is needed, he knows his destiny is to become a Jedi, so he entrusts the rebellion to others (and indeed, they've been in it longer than he) and follows the direction of the vision.

However, when he arrives at his spiritual training ground he finds no great school, but a swamp and an unlikely little green man! His frustration and lack of patience comes to a head. Hey, if you and I were in a swamp, I think we'd be at least as equally annoyed! When Yoda is revealed, all of Luke's shortcomings are revealed. His impatience, his desire for action, his temper, his immaturity. And the little green creature humbles him with great powers that silence his protests. Humbled, Luke must now submit to this swamp and trust that his teacher knows best. He must now see how all of these things have worked together to bring him to this point, to realizing his weaknesses. He must accept this breaking of his will and outer strength in order to see in the Spirit, in order to grow in belief that what he cannot see with his eyes (the Spirit) is stronger than what is visible.

God leads us through brokenness, and it is for our blessing. As Charles Stanley said in his book, "The Blessings of Brokenness", God's purpose is not to break our spirits, but break our wills so that we may be clay in the Potter's hand. He knows how to form us. But we are used to looking by sight and trusting our talents and strengths, so He first needs to humble us (with "swamps", etc.) in order to teach us how to trust Him, to flow from His strength instead of our own. We must learn to give Him control.

Like Luke in his training cave, during the training of brokenness, God brings us "face to face" with the difficult things in ourselves. And He begins to show us glimpses of the future. Sometimes we want to run off and pursue these things before our training is finished, you know! The war is going on and we don't want our friends and family to suffer. We want to go battle for them to help them free. But sometimes we jump the gun, we jump ahead of God.

The good news is that God is sovereign and knows what is in our hearts. He loves our love and our desire to help others. Many church leaders, elders and Christians do not understand that this agape love in us is part of God's will, and that His love will protect us against the enemy.

Let's talk about the old "Jedi" for a minute (I'll reach back--er, forward--to the prequels with some of this). Many of the old "Jedi" are focused a bit too much on training, forms, teaching and so on. These things have their proper place, but sometimes God will use our diversions from them to lead everyone into something greater. It was through Luke's diversion that the ultimate fall of the empire came about. For thousands of years the Jedi had forbade their members from loving too much. They did not recognize the power of love -- that it was because of love that Anakin became fearful and fell to the dark side. And it was because of love stronger than death that Luke brought his father back from the dead.

Some things we can't always map out and figure out. We have many wise teachers that have sometimes over-systematized things. We must learn from them and often must submit to them. But there is a call in our hearts straight from God's heart, the cry of love for the ones who do not know Him. The cry for His lost sheep. The love for Anakin Skywalker.

In part the Jedi lost their position in the galaxy because they had walled themselves off from becoming too intimate with this deep love. Their "system" and institution grew too large and they became the galactic police-force, so to speak. They became political. And once too deep into the affairs of the world, they grew to have more to lose and a greater height to fall from. In the same way, churches often become too systemized and institutionalized. We become too attached to our buildings, to our unbiblical hierarchies and "the way things are". We become political and imagine that the church is put in society to be the morality police, so to speak. We set ourselves up for a greater fall. We see it as if we have been making greater gains, but in fact we have that much more that we need to lose. We didn't realize that our control and apparent 'gains' for good were actually helping the enemy build his "empire" (Babylon), which will eventually turn on us. The war will be costly, and many "Jedi" will fall because of it. But it will be a time of brokenness for the church, in which God will bring us into balance, into accepting His heart within us and taking orders from Him only. Through this He will bring about the end.

Star Wars (Episode VI) - Liberation of the Captives

The third film is the Liberation of the Captives. Not only the universe from the empire, but also Han Solo as well.

Let's talk about Han Solo for a minute. Talented guy. Funny. Witty. Great pilot with the fastest ship in the galaxy. And he's got a bounty on his head. It's a debt too great for him to pay. He's been trying to pay it back, but one thing happens after another. He's torn between being a smuggler--and he's a darned good smuggler!--and following his heart by joining the Rebel Alliance, the good guys. He doesn't believe in the Force and feels like there is nothing that has controlled his destiny. He goes it solo, plays it by his on hand, so to speak!

He doesn't realize that the Force has called him out, too. His destiny is to be with the Alliance. He can never go back to his old life, either. As it is, he has a bounty on his head. He must face it responsibly, but the problem is that the "collectors" of the debt are not honorable anyway.

Even trying to appease the world by its means will get you into trouble! We live to please God, not men. We must learn to put aside our unbelief and love for our old lives, and fear God instead of man. God will deliver us from the debts that have bound us. If we run from them, we'll get burnt (or "frozen") by them, but God will keep us alive. Then He will send us back to the place of our bondage, set us free, and set others free by destroying the strong man (let's say, Jabba, for instance).

Like Onesimus in the book of Philemon in the Bible. Onesimus was a slave who ran away from his master. While on the run, he became a Christian and stayed with the apostle Paul. When the time came, Paul sent him back to his master (Philemon). Onesimus had been freed from his debt, but he had to go back and face the master he had wronged. Unlike Han Solo, however, Philemon was not Jabba -- in fact, Philemon had also been saved by Christ through Paul!

Yet sometimes when God sends us back to those we're indebted to (or those we've wronged), they do not treat us well. Even though they may be Christians, they often act more like Jabba the Hut. They put is in chains again and mean to keep us there. Yet God has not called us out in order to have us go back and be a mantlepiece in the house of slavery! Sometimes we are frozen by the old fears, but we can trust that He who called us is faithful and will complete the work He's begun in us. He will "show up" and set us free, just like Luke showed up to rescue his friend Han Solo.

A word about the "rescue", as well. It doesn't always go as planned! But God is in control. It seemed like things just got worse and worse for Luke & Han, just like the Exodus from Egypt seemed to get worse and worse for Moses & the Israelites. But God knew exactly what would happen, and used each apparent "setback" to bring about a more complete deliverance. That's what He does in our lives, too.

Sometimes we are like Han Solo, one of the good guys called to the Alliance, but part of us is still captive to the enemy. We've still got strongholds and debts in our hearts. But God uses our friends in His Body to help set us free. We must learn to trust them, just like Han and Luke learned to trust and treasure one another.

You may feel like you've got to handle this one "Solo", but you are not alone. You're friends are given to you by God to help you through, and there is no shame in asking for help. If you don't, you may be stuck there for awhile, "frozen" and unable to move. But God will send you spiritual brothers and sisters to help you to freedom.

Liberation of the Captives. Not only for the universe and Han Solo (the good guy with secret troubles), but also for the bad guy, too. Darth Vader.

Firstly, God is calling us to recognize that,

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

Indeed, we may look at many people as if they are our enemies. We think they are the "Darth Vader" in our world, and we look at them as the source of our problems. They seem to tie our hands (or cut them off) and hinder our ability to grow and do things. We feel we are in a war against them. But in fact, God has not called us to that. Instead He is calling us to war for them, to join in His rescue operation for those He died for -- that is, everyone. Christ called us to "love our enemies" (let me quickly add that this is not possible without His Spirit!) and "snatch from the fire" those who are perishing.

Like Darth Vader, many of our friends, families and enemies have been led astray and consumed by the enemy's distractions and lies. The enemy tells us that we cannot escape our bad traits and habits. That our anger is stronger than our love. That our identity is Darth and not Skywalker. The enemy tells us that because of our one failure, he is our master and lord. And when we look at our behaviors instead of God and His power, we end up believing the enemy's lies! We may even just give up and consign ourselves to life under that master. But that is not what we are born for. And the Light is indeed stronger than the dark, just as John said.

Many people have fallen trap to the enemy's lies primarily because of bitterness. Reaching again into the prequels, Anakin felt held back and restrained by the "church" (the Jedi). Sadly, more than often the church does indeed hold people back, attempting to conform them into the system and crushing their loving hearts in the process. This can begin a cycle of bitterness, however, which is very hard to break free from. Anakin was consumed by bitterness and his "righteous" cause. He had been wronged. He had "the right" to justice. And he found a way to bring his idea of "justice" to everyone. Believing firmly in his right-ness and his cause, he didn't notice that he brought death to everyone he loved and even to his own heart. When we've been wounded by others and hold onto our right to be angry at them, our clinging to the offense kills our heart and kills our relationships. We wonder why we are all alone suddenly. It's not us that's the problem---it's them, we think.

And without a God-sent intercessor (Luke), many people will remain this way until they die.

God is raising up a generation of people to restore the "ministry of reconciliation" in the church. This begins with pain, unfortunately, by recognizing the wounds that our own family have caused us. Spiritual fathers or natural fathers or family are usually the ones the enemy uses the most, taking advantage of our weaknesses and propensity to desire "justice" instead of love for our enemies. The enemy wants us to see those who have offended us as if they are the enemy, not him. Believing this lie of the enemy, we end up serving him a lot of the time. But God has sent His Son to free us all from this! It begins by recognizing that the people who have wounded us are our family and are worthy of our love. God has loved them and given His only Son to die for them. Just as He has loved us.

Through both Malachi and Gabriel, God said that He would use these children to bridge the gap of bitterness between fathers and sons.

Remember, the "empire" is not just "out there"... it begins "in here", in your heart. "Babylon" is firstly a spiritual condition of your heart before it is a physical empire. God is calling us to look past the appearance of things and see the heart of the matter, the spirit behind it. He is calling us to see people as beloved children He has loved and died for. He is calling us to love them so much that, like Luke for his father, we will lay down our lives for them instead of destroying them. He is calling us to receive His heart for them.

Our God is One who "turns the tables on the enemy" as my friend Hazel puts it. As Joseph said to his brothers who had hurt him, "What you meant for evil God meant for good." God used the wounds, pain and brokenness to bring about blessing, freedom and provision for all His beloved children. God didn't cause them, but He is able to redeem them if we will let Him and submit to His breaking process. And if we will submit to His heart, He will not only heal our broken hearts but will "reverse the curse" -- He will use us children to help set our fathers free (spiritual, natural, family and friends).

"Jedi", He makes us!

I pray that you're blessed by what He's shared with me through watching these movies. The point is not the wonder of the movies, but rather the wonder of our God who speaks to us today and has redeemed us so that we may extend His heart of reconciliation to others.

I didn't plan to write this, by the way! But I finished the last movie and decided to "flow" with the Spirit in this fit of inspiration, haha. Thanks must be given to John Eldrege for his books, "Wild at Heart", "The Sacred Romance" and "Waking the Dead". God used them to awaken my heart to seeing the war that we've been born into, our need for fellowship, and the power He has set in us because of what His Son has done for us. He helped me see who I am in Him!

The emperor in the second movie says to Vader about Luke, "He could destroy us." The enemy is afraid of you! He doesn't want you to know who you are. He doesn't want you to see who your real enemy is. And he doesn't want you to give God's redeeming love to the people who have wounded you. Satan doesn't want to lose any servants. But our foe is already defeated, it is certain.

I pray that the eyes of your heart are opened by His love and His Spirit to know Him who loves you so much and who has been right by you through all the wounds, pains and arrows. I pray that you know He is with you and that you can trust Him to redeem the terrible things you've been through, just like He's done for me and so many of His children.

Blessings in His awesome, epic love!
Ramone

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Resting On The Rock



By Ramone - January 25, 2008

Believe on Jesus
Rest upon the Rock
His strength overcomes weakness
In Him put all your stock
Rest your whole life on Him
He's the Rock, not you
Know peace complete, secure
His faithfulness is true

This is the last picture (of three) that came one day when I was meditating on the book of James. I remembered that older English expression of believing in Jesus which says, "Believe on Jesus." I thought of it in the context of James -- about believing God enough to actually trust in God with your whole life, including your actions. It made sense! Believe "on" Jesus -- cast your whole life on Him! This was the last of three pictures that quickly came and illustrated it, helping me understand visually what it means to believe "on" Jesus!

This picture, actually, was something I first doodled in a sketch book on "Sabbath-rest" notes probably back in 2002 sometime. It summed up what "Sabbath-rest" felt like (Sabbath-rest is the wonderful rest and peace that comes to us in Jesus because of His finished work for us). It's like resting on a big rock in the ocean, safe from all the waves. Bathing in the sun. Feeling it's solid power and security. Jesus is our Rock! Rest on Him.

This picture is actually part 2 of 3 pictures that came together in a series. To see all three pictures and read the complete poem (that's only the third part of it above), click this link: 'Believe On Jesus' Series