Fulfilled in Jesus

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the Steps


"On the Steps"

"On the Steps" (November 14, 2008)

This is a picture of me on the night of November 6, 2000, just outside my university's computer lab, trying to pray. My world had just been undone. I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church believing that its prophet (Ellen G. White) wrote completely biblically and that SDA truth was the most correct kind of Christianity out there. But on this night, I read an investigative report on a website about Ellen White.

Granted, in the 90's, I had begun hearing things once in awhile about EGW's plagiarism, copying someone else's work and printing it as her own (the usual SDA comeback was that it was okay to do that back then -- not true, I later found out! She had to withdraw one book called "Sketches From the Life of Paul" because the original authors threatened legal action). Or I remember hearing an SDA pastor telling me about a picture at the EGW estate (I grew up in the same town as the SDA General Conference headquarters) of EGW wearing a pearl necklace, despite the fact that she had blasted people for wearing jewelry. So to make her message more consistent, the church actually tried to air-brush out the pearls from the picture! But it had been exposed. Of course, I just laughed at it at the time rather than deal with the real theological ramifications of it -- rather than deal with the challenge it posed to SDA "truth". Like most good Adventists, I kept my faith in what we taught and I decided that people who said those things were usually bitter or angry at SDA for some other reason.

But this night in November 2000, when I looked at that one particular website, the information was just too much to ignore. I couldn't rationalize it away any more. There was much more than plagiarism or pearl necklaces. There is a lot of medical evidence that explains not only her visions accompanied by somewhat epileptic symptoms, as well as her bi-polar hyper-religious and legalistic bents, while at other times seeming to be normal and kind. The most disturbing part was that over the years, the institution tried to keep it hidden (like the necklace, ironically). When people in the institution tried to expose it, they were usually told that they had to leave their jobs. I wish I could remember all the evidence, and I wish I could point to that site again. I think the page is down now, but most of the information can be found on various investigative EGW sites and former-Adventist sites (as well as much, much more).

But for me, that night, the evidence of what I read was too much for me. I left the computer lab and fell down on some stairs outside. I wanted to run away and disappear in the woods. You see, I had just finished working as an SDA missionary in Japan for a year. I had taught the Bible, SDA truths, and Ellen White. I taught honest people that these things were the truth, that this was what God wanted them to know. And now, it all looked like it was a lie. Going off into the mountains seemed like the best thing to do.

The worst part was that for that moment, "Jesus" fell with Adventism.

Like most Adventists, I believed that everything we taught was from God, and that Ellen White was God's prophet, writing God's words. If she was false, and everything she wrote was Biblical, then the Bible must be false. I can't describe the sickening fear that I experienced at that time.

So I prayed. Or tried. I wasn't sure if God was real, but I prayed anyway and tried to forget about what I'd read. I can't actually remember what I said when I prayed. I think I couldn't really say anything. I barely was able to utter, so shattered was my belief and faith in God Himself. Even though I had felt His presence for the first time just two years earlier. Even though I had heard Him speak to me for the first time in the previous year (as a missionary). Even though He had healed a homeless man's infirmity as a result of the ministry we did in Japan. When EGW was exposed, "God" came down with her, and for a terrible moment, all the things He had done in my life and that I had done with Him fell, too.

Somehow stumbled back into the lab, began to read a book by Hazel Holland, detailing a prophetic dream she'd received and its interpretation. A friend of mine had found it on the internet, and I was about to read it (not taking it seriously, mind you) when I browsed around and ended up at the investigative EGW report that shattered my faith in her. I returned to looking at Hazel's book more on auto-pilot than with real interest.

At first I was cautious, but then my heart began to pound. I began seeing my whole experience in Adventism from a new perspective--God's perspective! He knew that things had been hidden. He knew that when I was growing up, I saw many things inside the church that didn't seem right, but that I wasn't able to talk about it because I was told that nobody was perfect and that it was wrong to criticize God's church. But as I was reading, I began to know that God's heart cries for His children! He loves us, and He knows all the things we go through! He sees all the hidden pains that we often are not able to recognize and cry about. He hears all of His children's cries.

I sent off an email to the website administrator (that was hosting Hazel's book), and he forwarded it to her. The next day Hazel emailed me with the shocker: she lived five minutes from my university! Little did I know that God had been preparing her for this, that through other people God prophesied to her that students would be coming to her. So she had started to get her home ready for meetings. So I went that same week, tested her with the Adventist questions, and she spoke the Gospel instead, which broke through my Adventist testing questions. The Gospel won. And I began to discover that God is a lot bigger than I had imagined. It was the beginning of me entering His Sabbath rest in Jesus Christ -- not one day a week, but 24/7, finding out that Jesus Himself is my Sabbath rest.

(You can read a little more about what happened later in my post here: Why I Left Adventism)

I've shared all of this because for reasons I can't fully write right now, God had me paint this scene from my "shaking", when I was on the steps, ready to go into the hills and leave everything. Basically, die. And I did die on those steps. And God raised me up. He resurrected me. What I would leave behind (Adventism) is like death compared to the life I've discovered in Jesus Christ now and His Holy Spirit who speaks to me, comforts me, lifts me up, and ministers His sweetness through me to others.

That moment on the steps was critical. It was one of two times in my life when I didn't know what or how to pray, and yet God answered my prayer! I think a lot of Adventists are going to find themselves "on these steps" in the coming days. And like it was for me, for so many of them "God" will fall when EGW/SDA is shaken. Most tragically, many will wander out into the hills and leave everything altogether. Many will "die" inside and not be resurrected. This is part of why God had me paint this -- for intercession, for them, that they not stay in death, that they not go out into the hills dead. In Jesus' name I pray and cry. Amen.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sabbath Means This! (part 2)


"My Sabbath Forever"

"My Sabbath Forever" - September 15, 2009

During bathtime my son and I were singing,

Shabbat shalom
Shabbat shalom
Moshiach Yeshua is my shalom

Yeshua, Yeshua
Yeshua, my shalom


For the second night, my son asked me what "Shabbat" ("Sabbath") meant while we were singing. I prayed and replied as simply as I could, and this is how I described it. Later Jesus impressed me to paint it like this.

*****

See also: Heart For Adventists (link)

Sabbath Means This! (part 1)


Sabbath Means This!

"Sabbath Means This!" - September 9, 2009

During bathtime my son and I were singing,

Shabbat shalom
Shabbat shalom
Moshiach Yeshua is my shalom

Yeshua, Yeshua
Yeshua, my shalom

On the first night, my son asked me what "Shabbat" ("Sabbath") meant while we were singing. I prayed and replied as simply as I could, and this is how I described it. Later Jesus impressed me to paint it like this.

*****

See also: "Sabbath is Here"

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Lean Upon His Breast!


My Sabbath Rest

"My Sabbath Rest" - September 7, 2009

The Lord the Saviour is her rest;
On Him she casts her cares;
By faith she leans upon His breast,
And banishes her fears.

- William Gadsby

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Saved!

Saved!

"Saved!" - August 6, 2009

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But My salvation will last forever,
My righteousness will never fail...

For I am the Lord your God
...who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who says to Zion,
"You are My people."

- Isaiah 51:6,16

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Delighted!

Delighted!

"Delighted!" - July 21, 2009

This is just how I felt as I came into a friend's cafe a few minutes before teaching some English lessons there. I was just full of Your love, Lord, just full of You. I looked at Your words in Psalm 37 and that only confirmed and increased my overflow of You at the moment. Thank You!
"The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
- Zephaniah 3:17

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Righteous!

Righteous!

"Righteous!" - May 22, 2009

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If You, My God, Are Here

With Me Here (sketch) With Me Here

"With Me Here" - March 14 & May 9, 2009

Talk with me, Lord, Yourself reveal
Here as I live and move
Speak to my heart and let me feel
The burning of Your love

With You conversing I forget
All time and toil and care
Labor is rest and pain is sweet
If You, my God, are here

Here then, my God, graciously stay
And make my heart rejoice
My bounding heart with Yours will sway
As I hear Your sweet voice

You call me, Lord, to seek Your face
'Tis all I wish to seek
To attend the whispers of Your grace
And hear You in me speak

Let this my every hour employ
Till I Your glory see
Enter into my Master's joy
And find my heaven in You
- Charles Wesley (adapted)

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Yeshua My Shabbat!

Yeshua My Shabbat!

Yeshua My Shabbat - May 2, 2009

Once when I was holding my infant son and singing him to sleep, I wanted to worship God and wanted to sing the traditional Jewish "Shabbat shalom" song, but I just couldn't sing it... it was like trying to make a "holy day" special but was my own effort. It was too much mental gymnastics to celebrate something that was in the past. We live in the Sabbath-rest today, we live in the fulfillment, we live in Jesus!

So as I realized that and prayed about it, new words came and I could worship Him in the fulfillment, in the life and light! I began to sing something like, "Shabbat shalom, Jesus, Messiah, You have brought us home." Much later He gave me words for the song to make three verses:
Shabbat shalom, Shabbat shalom
Moshiach Yeshua, Shabbat shalom
Yeshua, Yeshua! Shabbat, Shabbat shalom
Yeshua, Yeshua! Shabbat, Shabbat shalom

Shabbat shalom, Shabbat shalom
Moshiach Yeshua has brought shalom
Yeshua, Yeshua! Yeshua brought shalom
Yeshua, Yeshua! Yeshua brought shalom

Shabbat shalom, Shabbat shalom
Moshiach Yeshua is my shalom
Yeshua, Yeshua! Yeshua my shalom
Yeshua, Yeshua! Yeshua my shalom

As I wrote the words into my private worship songbook, I wondered and felt that maybe there was a picture He would show me of this? I began to see something like a Jewish family in their home. They're lighting the Sabbath candles. But they see the light in a new light. They see that Jesus is the light of the world, that He is the light that never goes out.

I saw a picture of a little Jewish boy in a yarmulke; he is looking with joy and wide child's eyes at the nail print in Jesus' hand, and the boy's hand is touching and feeling His. He sees by the light of a nearby Sabbath candle. And the light of Christ is a brighter light. The Sabbath candle's light was a shadow of the real Light, Jesus the Messiah. The "rest" has now come. The Shabbat is here, the Moshiach is here. His name is Yeshua ha Moshiach, Jesus Christ our Savior, our Shabbat shalom forever.

Bless you in Him, in His peace today!

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Resting On His Hand

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Sabbath Rest


The Sabbath Rest

The Sabbath Rest - March 19, 2009

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Prayer in Jesus

He Went to Pray

"He Went to Pray" - March 18, 2009
 
One day the Lord stopped me while reading Mark 6:46, about how Jesus went up a mountain to pray by Himself.  I realized that sometimes I think about prayer and spending time with God as if it’s heavy or serious, and so I sometimes put it off.  But when He stopped me at the verse, I thought about how He spent that time alone with Father, and I realized it was a time of joy, love, retreat and rest in Father’s love and being with Him. I realized that actually I also feel the same when I’m in God’s presence!  Every time I go to Him (finally!) I realize I was a fool to put off being with Him so long, and that it’s not heavy at all, but it’s actually relief and rest.  Help me remember this, Lord!

ある日、マルコ6:46のイエス様が1人で祈るため山へ上がられた箇所を読んでいる時に、主は僕を止められました。 時々、僕は祈りや、神様と共に時間を過ごす事は何か重苦しい、重大な事だと思い、時々そうすることを延ばしていた事に気付きました。 しかし、神様がその御言葉の箇所で僕を止められた時、イエス様が1人で、どの様にその時間を父なる神様と過されたかを考えました。 そしてそれは喜び、愛、静養の時、父の愛の中での休息であることに気付きました。  実は、神様の臨在の中にに居るときには僕も同じように感じていることにも気付きました。 神様の元へ行くときにはいつでも(やっと!)長い間、神様と共に過ごす事を延ばしていた愚かな自分に気付き、そうすることが全く重苦しいことではなく実際は、ほっと安心できる休息である事が分かりました。 主よ、この事をいつも覚えている事ができるように助けてください!

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You Are My Peace

You Are My Peace!

"You Are My Peace" - March 6, 2009

"He will stand and shepherd His flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
And they will live securely, for then His greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And He will be their peace."

- Micah 5:4-5

I believe this came as I was thinking of the "gesture" style of drawing, which I miss doing (I don't use it so much anymore). I thought of it's opposite -- contour or realism. And somehow as I thought of that contrast, I saw this picture. Granted, I'd love to use gesture style more often, but this one came without me asking! And the Holy Spirit is witnessing to me now, so I had better talk about what this means...

The "gesture" person is me -- and is all of us. We are shaky, frazzled and razzled, confused, without much light. We are wrecks. Yes, God will heal us and grow us in His holiness, but the sheer never-ending fact is that He Himself is our peace. He gives us peace by giving us Himself. Peace is not something that detaches from Him and is handed to us. Peace is Him Himself. And when we don't "feel" peace, we must look up to Him and know that no matter what we feel, He is still "solid" and is not "coming apart" like we feel we are. He is our rock. He is our peace.

This is a picture of me (and all of us) looking up to Him, Him who comes down to us in our frazzled & frayed state, coming into our darkness, and touching us, lifting up our heads to see Him and that our peace is in Him.

I recall that I had seen this picture one night, and somehow the next day I was not feeling so great... spiritually confused or beating myself over the head over some personal failure. Whatever it was, I suddenly had to make this painting, because it was exactly how I felt, and He is exactly what I need!

Bless you in Jesus! He Himself is your peace!

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