Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nic Billman: God's Heart for the Least of These: "You Will Find Me in the Darkness...I'm Out Here, Come Find Me"

The following is courtesy of

Nic Billman

A Vision of the Broken

Recently my wife and I and a few friends of ours had a time of worship. It was just my keyboard and our voices—simple and intimate. We were singing our love to Papa, and His presence was washing through the room. It was awesome! Then a vision come to me.

I saw the broken and the dying on the streets. There were prostitutes selling their bodies, there was a drug addict shooting up in the alleys, there were children begging for food, and there was a widow sitting alone on her porch with the blank stare of depression in her eyes. There was a crippled old man who was crying out, "Water, please, I need water"; his clothes torn and dirty. There was a mother with two babies—she was sitting at a laundromat weeping, her tears falling down on the faces of her hungry children. All of these people were desperate and dying. Everything was dark gray and lifeless.

From there I saw church buildings; the doors were closed, but there was life inside and awesome worship with lots of people. All of the people were praying and crying out, "God, we want to hear Your voice; why can't we hear You? Show us Your face. We want to see Your face." Then I heard a sound behind me. I turned back to the streets and heard the Father say, "I'm out here, come find Me."

"You Will Find Me in the Dark, You Will Find Me in the Darkness"

I started to sing these words, "When I was hungry, you gave Me bread. When I was thirsty, you gave Me a drink. I was sick, you came to Me. I was naked and poor and you clothed Me in love. Just stare into the eyes of the child who's left alone—there you'll find Me. Just open up your arms to hold the least of these—there you'll find Me. Come find Me." At the same time my wife, Rachael, started singing, "You will find Me in the dark, you will find Me in the darkness." It was clear that God was moving all of our hearts in the same direction.

We spent about an hour in that song as we interceded in worship for "the least of these." As a worship leader, I am constantly worshipping through music, whatever the setting: a church service, at a conference, in public or alone in my room. Since I was a teenager I've always had these experiences where we'll be at the height of worship and my heart immediately turns to the poor and the sick, or God takes me into a vision like He did the other night. If we sing about things like God's love, His heart, drawing closer to Him and wanting more of Him, we are going to inherit more of His heart. His heart is for you and me, and it's also for the "least of these." It's a beautiful intertwining of His heart and ours, and worship is the perfect atmosphere for that to take place!

My life's "theme song" is called "Shores of Grace." My wife and I wrote it back in September 2008. It was also written in an intense time of worship where God began to reveal His heart for the least of these and we began to pray, "Father, show us how to love so we can love with Your heart. Teach us how to see so we can see with Your eyes." Again, God just burst in right in the middle of our worship set and ruined our plans for the evening! Hallelujah!

God's Heart For The Least Of These

You see the heart of God has always been for the poor, the sick and the lost, listen to the words of Jesus from Matthew 25:34-40:

"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'

"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"

This was one of the last things that Jesus taught His disciples. Do you see how Jesus ties our blessings, righteousness and inheritance into our willingness to love and care for the least of these? Jesus identifies Himself with the least of these—He says I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, I was sick, I was in prison. We see it throughout the life of Jesus; He always had time for the least of these. He stopped a meeting to spend time with a broken woman who wanted to anoint his feet. He stopped along His journey to visit with a shamed Samaritan woman. He even ignored the law regarding the Sabbath to heal a man who was born blind.

In fact, most of the miracles that Jesus did was when He was just out and about. He didn't plan outreach events with the disciples. He just did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19), and that was loving the people.

Jesus simply could not look upon the multitudes and not have compassion for them (Matthew 9:36, 14:14). His heart was so full of the love of the Father that He couldn't look without compassion. We are to live the same way. We should be so full of God's love that rivers of living water should flow from our hearts and change lives and atmospheres everywhere we go. This is what Jesus was referring to when, in Matthew 10:8, He said, "Freely you've received, freely give." He said to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and raise the dead. Why? All for love. Freely we receive His love and freely we must pour it out! All of those actions are targeted on "the least of these"—the sick, the dying, the oppressed and the dead!

James goes so far as to incorporate the least of these into the very definition of pure religion in James 1:27:

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

The mindset of the world is to look out for number one, to do what's best for you and to focus on your needs. However, the mindset of Jesus was to ignore His needs and instead focus on the needs of the poor and the sick. We need to be unspotted or uncontaminated from the ways of the world and simply fix our eyes on Jesus and follow in His footsteps.

Praise, Worship and the Glory

Now you might be saying, "What does that have to do with worship?" If worship is all about drawing closer to the heart of the Father, we're going to feel God's heart for the least of these. And if worship is all about honoring the Father, then what better way is there to honor Him than to intercede for the broken? It's a natural progression as we go deeper into worship. As we truly receive "more of Him and less of us" then our hearts will begin to break for the things that break His heart.

The Church typically views worship in three phases:

1. Praise 2. Worship and 3. Ministry.

We start out with more upbeat music praising His name and lifting Him high, then we worship and sing about His love and saving grace, and then we get to the point where the atmosphere of worship is heavy and it's time either for personal ministry, corporate ministry or ministry to God's heart. This model fits the Old Testament design for the tabernacle that Moses built with outer and inner courts and a most holy place. High praise starts in the outer court, followed by holy worship in the inner court, then with ropes on our ankles for the most holy place as we enter the manifest presence of God!

Father Bill McCarthy said, "We should praise until the Spirit of worship comes and worship until the Glory comes. Praise brings an increase of anointing, but worship brings the majesty of God into the midst of His people." This is especially true in the Charismatic and Pentecostal streams of the Church—we praise until the Spirit of worship comes, we worship until the glory falls, and then we soak in the glory. It's great and I love when that progression takes place in a worship service, although it doesn't have to be in that order. Sometimes I hit one note on the keyboard, the glory falls and so do I! But I digress back to the progression of worship.

I believe that there is a fourth step to that progression that has been overlooked—it's intercession. Once we get to that place of deep worship, that place where the glory falls, it is then we should begin to cry out for the lost, for the broken, for the sick, the poor and the dying. This is why so many times in my life when I get to that place, sometimes all I want to do is lay down and soak in the glory, but instead I'm weeping on the ground crying out for the least of these. That is a natural thing.

As I fell more in love with my wife, I got to know her more. As I got to know her more, I became more interested in the things that interested her. It's the same way with the Father. We need to break out of the mold that says to separate those things, and just allow God's heart to penetrate our times of worship. For years we've been singing about His love and now it's time to sing, "Father, show us how to love." It's time to pour out all that He pours into us. There is a very fine line that separates worship and intercession—a very fine line. The two go hand in hand.

Worship is Key to Intimacy, and Intimacy is Key to Intercession

2 Chronicles 7:14 says: "...if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Jesus is the example of humbling oneself as we read in Matthew 25. He lowered Himself to the place of the "least of these." In our culture today we tend to see "humbleness" and "humility" as negative terms or terms of weakness. We hear things like, "I was humiliated" or "It really humbled me." But a true, simple definition of humility is to admit that God is God and we are not and to submit to His authority and will. Jesus made Himself so low, that there was no one He could look down upon, and He could do nothing apart from the Father.

The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is the root of all sin; it's where it all began with Lucifer saying, "I will be exalted above God." Pride is elevating yourself above another. Our goal, as with all things, should be to live like Jesus and to live a life of humility—that is to let God be God and to not lift ourselves up above others. When we live in humility, we restore what was broken in the fall—as a pure relationship with God in total submission to His will, just like Jesus!

The other term that is used in that passage is "seek My face" which is a term of intimacy. God gives us a key in this passage: if we'll humble ourselves and seek His face, He will hear from Heaven and He will bring healing to our land. When we are in that deep place of intimate worship, that is the best time to intercede before the Father. The closer you get to the Father, the clearer you can whisper in His ear.

Just like Esther, she received favor from the King through intimacy. Then she was granted access into His chambers, and while there, she interceded for her people. As a result, she saw the course of history for her nation redirected because of the powerful combination of "intimacy and intercession." The story of Esther is a prophetic one, symbolizing the way we are to approach the throne of God.

Be a Thermostat, Not a Thermometer

Worship is more than just music or art; it's a lifestyle (Romans 12:1). We need to live like Jesus did, open our eyes and see what the Father is doing, and then do it. Not just to see the need, but also to meet the need. Anyone can be a thermometer and just gauge the spiritual temperature, but we're called to be thermostats and to change the spiritual temperature! We're not called to just point out sickness, poverty and sin; we're called to change those ashes into beauty. After all, it's Christ in us that is the hope of glory!

As we spend time in intercessory worship, crying out for the "least of these" while also prophetically declaring their destiny in the Father, a culture cultivated from the very heart of Papa God is created! We begin to truly experience more of Him and less of ourselves, more of the Spirit and less of the flesh. It stirs up boldness within us to step out and love the unloved and to have compassion for the multitudes. Once we've gotten to the place of interceding in worship, there is still one more step—GO FIND HIM. To find Him in the broken, to find Him in the poor and the sick, to find Him in the lost, to find Him in the widow and the orphan. The promise is that if we seek Him, we will find Him. He's calling out, "Come find Me." Will you go?

Nic Billman
Shores of Grace Ministries


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kathryn Marquis: "In the Midst of Darkness, a Treasure Forms"

The following is courtesy of

Recently, a friend commented to me about her disappointment when a dire situation suddenly arose in her family. She had just learned to live life without expecting the other "shoe to drop" and then it did. You must understand that this was not a casual or superficial complaint; this friend has faced her share of circumstances which would cause many of us to take one look, and run quickly in the opposite direction.

My friend was widowed very young by cancer, then, just as suddenly, this newly single mom's oldest son faced a cancer diagnosis of his own—and that's just the beginning of her journey. Her life story, meant to be a testimony of joy coming in the morning, has not yet seemed to have reached the light of dawn. Most recently a new set of "challenges" has reared its ugly head just as, in her mind, she could begin to trust in things not completely falling apart at every turn.

My heart aches at her situation and at my own, as we have faced seemingly innumerable losses and reasons for tears in the last couple of years. These are years which we had hoped would mark the end of our own season of "weeping and mourning"—only to replace the chronic pain and sadness I had lived with of raging circumstances. My raging circumstances included almost losing my marriage, walking through my mother's brain tumor diagnosis and her death a year later, the loss of jobs, a bankruptcy, the loss of our home, dealing with an immobilizing injury, and living homeless for three months. And yet, in the midst of darkness, a treasure forms.

Isaiah 45:3 "I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name."

"Lord, Haven't I Suffered Enough?"

One summer morning a few years ago, as I walked and talked with the Lord, I found myself sitting on a park bench, weeping, and out of my heart came this prayer, "Lord, how is it that it feels like the first 30 years of my life have been about grief and tears?" In that moment His inexplicable love surrounded me, and filled me like a warm and healing balm. I heard Him whisper, the way that only He can, to my innermost being: "Kathryn, though your weeping has endured for a night, the rest of your life will be about carrying My glory."

I went away from that encounter rejoicing at His words, seemingly a promise of better things to come. Only, those "better things" turned out to be the circumstances noted above; not exactly what one would expect restoration to look like. I was understandably confused and disappointed. Not that there weren't amazing, encouraging circumstances and miracles that also occurred during that time. Yet, I too, like my friend, was looking for a quality of life without the constant expectation of bad things happening. "Lord, haven't I suffered enough? When can I trust again that things are going to be okay?"

As it happens, I was asking the wrong question. I had interpreted His promise to me to mean a change of circumstances, but He was talking about much more than that. As always, He has the best in mind when I can only conceive of the crumbs. Hidden inside His words to me was a promise of the transformation of my very heart. My question to Him needed to be not, "When can I trust in better circumstances coming for me," but, "Lord, what did You mean about carrying Your glory?"

Oh, if we only understood the "nature of suffering." Christ's suffering for our ultimate redemption was the greatest passion play, the greatest illustrated sermon ever presented on the very character and Person of the Godhead: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). He is ultimate Love, in its purest, highest form. And, if we are very courageous in the midst of great trial, we suddenly become the seat of conception for the greatest revelation that can come to the heart of man: I AM.

The greatest treasure of darkness is that He is unchanging, He is still the same, He is on the Throne, His name is Love, and He never fails. Though the light become darkness around me, though the mountains be removed and hurled into the sea, You remain, Your love remains, and my Jesus is still the same.

In the Scriptures we are told to "count it all joy" when we face trials of many kinds, for to persevere through painful trials produces the character of Jesus, and His character within us gives birth to the hope that does not disappoint—even His GLORY (see James 1 and Romans 5) . Christ in me in perfect, intimate, conjugal oneness IS the glory of God in its ultimate expression.

The Glory About to Be Revealed In and Through Us

To carry His glory is His ultimate design and plan for humanity. Romans 8:18 says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." It goes on to say that even creation is subjected to the frustrated groaning of waiting for the revealing of the sons of the Kingdom. In Matthew 13 we see that it is in His sovereign design to harvest out of us every evil thing that hinders and causes us to stumble, "AND THEN" we will shine like the sun (with His glory!) in the Kingdom of our Father.

His ultimate design was and is to form and reveal in me a true worshiper; to give my life every opportunity to be a testimony and a pleasing fragrance, to reveal in me His glory, the treasure formed in darkness—the wealth in secret places. My place of suffering, at the merciful hands of adverse circumstance, is the crucible for the glorious "AND THEN" of Matthew 13, revealing the "pearl of greatest price."

Pearls are fascinating gems. Natural, uncultured (that is, without human intervention) pearls are very rare, forming only when a microscopic parasite or impurity accidentally invades the safe, pristine environment of the soft tissue or mantle of a sea mollusk. Being irritated by the invader, the mollusk coats the impurity with a calcium secretion in layer upon conjunctive layer. If one were to dissect a natural pearl, there would be no solid "centre" visible, but a series of concentric "growth rings." It's not a stretch to see the allegory. (Incidentally, my middle name is Margaret, from the Greek, meaning "A Pearl." In this sense, Trouble is literally my middle name.)

That summer morning when He spoke to me, He was giving me much more than a promise of better things to come. He was giving me a priceless key for life and having it abundantly. He was essentially saying to me, "Kathryn, I've chosen for you to endure; and where you have wept and thought it was 'for nothing,' you will come to find it has worked to ignite the brilliant, raging flame within you, the greatest treasure concerning darkness. If you will allow Me, Your life will carry the very I AM."

I long to be able to tell my friend that better days are coming for her, but they are not necessarily the better days of "easier circumstances." I have no idea if more loss will come to her, but I do know that as she comes through this time of trouble, she will emerge radiant and shining, with a better revelation of the character and Person of the God who loves her, who formed her, who has called her by name.

Often now, when I meet people, they look into my eyes and say something like, "Oh! I see Him! Shining there!" and I am reduced to tears for the honor of having been given the gift of an unveiled face, revealing His glory as a bright reflection in the mirror of my life. I have come to intimately know the truth of Psalm 84, that blessed are those who have set their hearts on pilgrimage, who pass through the valley of weeping, making it a place of springs—that the former and latter rains fall on them there.

Rightly He promised me that there would come a day for me when I would "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you...Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice...for you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over" (Isaiah 60:1, 5, 20).

And, if He promised me, He has promised you.

In His love,

Kathryn Marquis

Thursday, July 02, 2009

God is Still the Best Artist—when He Paints, People Get Excited

The following comes from BCN (

Aimee Herd (July 2, 2009)

"Who can understand how He spreads out the clouds, how He thunders from His pavilion?" –Job 36:29

Mammatus Clouds(New York, NY)—After a heavy thunderstorm last week in New York City, the sky was filled with unusual clouds and color, and people came out from all over the Big Apple with cameras to catch a shot. (Photo: MSNBC)

According to the MSNBC report, the extraordinary cloud formation was said to be "Mammatus" clouds which are typically found where moist air interacts with dry air.

Descriptions of the remarkable sky included "apocalyptic," "strange," "orange" and "awe-inspiring." To watch the MSNBC video of the clouds over New York, follow the source link provided.

Source: Staff - MSNBC

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