Fulfilled in Jesus

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

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dancing Out on a Limb!

By Ramone - April 3, 2008

We live by faith, not by sight.
- 2 Corinthians 5:7

This came from a conversation with my bro DB back on October 7th last year. I don't remember what we were talking about, but somehow we ended up talking about trusting in God even though your circumstances look shaky or risky. I think it was him who said, "Christians are always out on a limb." And I added, "Yes, they're always out dancing on a limb!"

This is where He meant us to be. (^_^)

The Big Step!

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", 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!

Free in the Ocean

By Ramone - February 10, 2008

This picture came from His heart a day after my friend & spiritual-mom Hazel and I were praying for Christians who have been living in a "fish tank" (see this picture of a vision she received and its interpretation). This is God's heart for us -- free in His ocean of love, at rest in Him, surrounded by Him, encompassed by His presence and Spirit. Free, and at rest! In His control alone, and joyful because of it.

Out of the Shadows

By Ramone - March 5, 2008
Out of the shadows—
Out of the grave!
And we out of our sins!
Out with Him—
Into the Life,
Into the Light!

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.

The Body is Christ!

By Ramone - April 13, 2008
Colossians 2:16-17...

Therefore don't let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a New Moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah. (HCSB)

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (NIV)

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a New Moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (NKJV)

The word translated "substance" or "reality" can also be translated as "body". This is how I pictured Paul telling people not to worry about religious rituals, holy days, holy foods, "divine services", etc. These things were and still are only a shadow... but the BODY is Christ!

The reality, the substance, is His body! Not even "communion service", but His real, REAL body! He Himself is the reality! Yes, He called us to "remember" Him and celebrate the New Covenant by having communion with one another in His presence. But this is a ceremony of rememberance, not a "means of grace" and not a re-presenting or offering of His sacrifice again because it has already been offered once for all! The reality is Him!

Paul was saying,
"Look! Not shadows, not services, not rituals, not programs! Get your head out of the ritualistic box -- the reality is Him! He is it! He Himself is the reality! You don't need a 'service' or a special ritual to access Him or 'receive' Him! No! He has done it already! He has broken down that dividing wall of rituals and ceremonies! Now you may approach Him freely without any of that, just by faith! Those things were just shadows of the REAL THING -- the real thing is HIM!

Don't judge yourself your your closeness to Him (and don't let others judge you that way, either!) by what services or rituals you do, eat or attend -- no! The reality, the BODY is Him! You don't have to do this ritual or that service to be in Him -- you don't need shadows to be in Him! You don't need ancient Jewish shadows or ancient Christian shadows or even modern Christian shadows! HE is the body! He is the reality! And you have all fullness in Him!

In Him you are lacking nothing! All the fullness of God is in His body, and you are in Him, and you are His body. You have all the fullness of God in you! Therefore do not be intimidated by fine-sounding shadows, but stand in the Light, in the reality, and in the fullness that is in Him and that He has put in you!"

Worshiping Jesus

Somehow he knows when its worship. He loves music and constantly wants us to have some playing, but when it's worship music, he somehow knows and raises his hand(s). We walked into church once and a worship leader was introducing a new song --the church hadn't begun worshiping with it yet-- but Timothy already put his hands up in the air. God is wonderful. Thank You, God. He is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Purpose of the Swamp of God

I haven't written on this blog in awhile, but in reading some different things on pages just now, this thought I had not long ago came to me, as well as a picture I hope to make soon.

Yes, there has been a "swamp" in Japan. Endo was mistaken, however. Endo thought the "swamp" was that Japan was not good ground for Christianity. Yes and no. Japan is good ground for Christ, but not good ground for the "ianity".

I believe God has sovereignly allowed much of this "swamp" because He is using it to help His people let go of what they don't need -- and what Japan does not need. Japan does not need a western-packaged gospel. Japan does not need to lose her soul -- she needs to know that her soul is made for Jesus, and God has set eternity in her and created her heart.

Japan needs more of Him and less of "us". God has sovereignly allowed this "swamp" to bring us (foreigners and entrenched-in-the-west Christians) to a point of repentance, to strip away what is actually keeping the gospel in a box here. We've been discouraged because Japan has not joined us in our box, but God has made Japan to fly free in Him, not to live in our box.

I was an official missionary once. But now I am more of a true "missionary" than I was before. As a foreigner and as a Christian from the west, an American, I want to begin this repentance to Japan.

We have told you that you did not know God.

You did know God deep, deep inside, even though you didn't know His name.

We tried to start from scratch. We didn't wait to hear how He was already working in you.

We came in with idea after idea, gimmick after gimmick, leader after leader, book after book, always trying to "teach" you.

We didn't water the seed that God had put in you -- we tried to plant another.

We gave you suits and neckties. We overwhelmed you with our technology and military power. We forced you open. Forgive us, Japan.

You were afraid. You wanted to protect yourselves. But we sailed in and held you at gunpoint. We held you hostage to make you trade with us. We wanted your money and goods instead of wanting you yourselves.

On top of this, we felt this was "a good opportunity" to "save your souls", so we preached the gospel after wounding you so severely. Many of you adopted our religion, but the wound was there in your heart, and you never felt like you were "coming home" to Jesus. Forgive us.

We used an experimental bomb on you twice more than necessary, and today we continue to invoke Pearl Harbor to justify it. We fire-bombed your cities. We killed your children and homes. Then we pointed to what your army had done abroad to justify ourselves.

Today we want your business. We want to sell you weapons. We want you to join our world police-force actions, even though we know it is not good for you and your relationship with your neighbors. We helped you choose peace after the war, and now we are subtly trying to move you away from it. Forgive us for trying to buy you, for trying to make you sell your conscience for better trade ties with us.

After the war, we lamented that so few of our own people answered MacArthur's call to preach the Gospel to you. We felt like we had missed an opportunity. God held us back, because He loved you so much -- He would not let His Gospel be sown with abuse as it had twice in the past.

Forgive us for using politics to try and advance our own interests and advance the gospel. Forgive us for not dealing honestly with you, not esteeming the least of you, but for going for leaders so that they could convert you en masse. Forgive us for neglecting the weak and poor among you. Forgive us for bringing a culture of materialism and a gospel of prosperity to you -- and losing the soul of the Gospel in the process, teaching you to walk with us past the poor and needy dressed in our Sunday-best on the way to "church".

Forgive us for Xavier's ways, Lord, forgive us, Japan. Forgive us for when we converted Daimyo into "Christian warlords". Forgive us for standing by in approval as they converted your people at swordpoint, as they waged war and spread "Christianity" with the sword. Forgive us for not protesting Nobunaga's terrible treatment of Buddhists.

Forgive us for thinking that our martyrdom was wholly the result of your evil, Japan, and wholly because we were righteous. Forgive us for our blindness in not seeing what we had done to you, what came with us knowingly or unknowingly.

Forgive us for forcing Christianity on you, and for forcing our traditions on you who did receive Christ. Forgive us for wounding you through our desire for your riches and your trade. Please forgive us for dropping firebombs and atomic bombs on you. Please forgive us for forcing you open with our powerful ships. Forgive us for talking about how godless you are.

Forgive us for only seeing the idolatry and spiritual oppression in your shrines and temples, and neglecting the control, idolatry and spiritual oppression in our own churches, traditions, culture and that we've brought with us to impose on you. Forgive us for trying to remove the speck from your nation while missing the planks in our eyes and in our hearts.

Lord, open our eyes to see You in Japan, and help us speak to the heart of Japan that You made for Yourself -- and help us speak the Gospel without any of "us", but only with You. Help us past the limitations of our culture, Lord. Help us see our blindspots and faults in history. Break our western "righteousness", Lord.

Forgive us, God, and forgive us, Japan. We want you to know Jesus, Japan, not us. Bend us, Lord, so that Japan may see You who love her so much.

In Jesus' name, amen.