August, 2004 - What a Way to Live
By Billie Marie Zal
Not long ago I wrote a message entitled, “There is Much Rubbish”. I am inclined to believe that I did not even begin to scratch the surface of all the atrocities going on in the Name of Jesus Christ. Once God gives insight, everything false begins to light up like a laser beam and we see how satanic entities have infiltrated the Body of believers in our day.
I was just thinking....of all the men of God, the Apostle Paul was given the revelation of the New Covenant, or the Church. He did not get these truths in a day or a week or through a few years of seminary training. He didn’t even confer with flesh and blood, and it is a good thing he didn’t. If he had, God would have had to find Himself another man to stand in the gap with the glorious revelation of what the Church really is.
I find it difficult to believe (even after reading the account of Paul’s life for years), that he was treated so badly by those whom he led to Christ and then laid down his life for. I doubt that they ever really liked him. And why? Because he spoke the truth. He did not bat an eye when he openly rebuked the Apostle Peter who was two faced and tried to act like a Jew after he had fellowshipped with the Gentiles. Don’t you know that this public dress down really humiliated Peter? After all, Peter had walked with the Lord. But Paul was letting the Lord walk and talk and live in him.
I suspect that the believers secretly hated to see Paul coming into their midst. Not all of them, true. But most of them - especially those who lived with one foot on earth and the other foot “tentatively” place in Heaven. When Paul arrived he took issue with discrepancies. He would not be silent in the face of little sins or gross sins in the Body of believers. Although he loved them far more than they would ever love him, He was never appreciated except by a few whose eyes were opened to spiritual things.
In most assemblies today there is no real knowledge of spiritual things. There is great emphasis upon soul winning. The truth is, we don’t win souls. We let Jesus express Himself through us, and if anyone is seeking Him, then they find Him. There is also an unbelievable emphasis upon supernatural gifts in the Church. If a man who preaches (or a woman) doesn’t possess the gifts of healing, or of tongues, or of prophesy, or of wisdom and understanding, he is assessed as “not having the power”. Yet the Bible teaches us that one gift far surpasses all the other gifts, and that is the gift of Love.
Now, if the Bible tells us GOD is love, then if we possess the gift of Love, we literally possess God. This puts us in an entirely different position. We do not own anything. God owns us. And if we are owned by God, we do not have the right to act as though we are owned by anyone or anything else.
Not long ago, I attended a meeting held under tent. I wish there we more tent meetings. We have gotten so refined and comfortable in our air conditioned, million dollar buildings (and if Jesus is coming soon,) I wonder why so much money is being spent on buildings that will go down, stone by stone (or whatever) that we have lost the spirit of the “primitive” or beginning Church.
As the evangelist preached and the people praised God, I was so thankful to have found a tiny corner of our area where Jesus was being proclaimed. But then something happened that to me seemed very sad.
The subject of the offering came up. Plus, the evangelist asked that we give something of our own that we really valued to be auctioned off later for the work. It did not occur to me that this body of believers was not “my” congregation. Nor did it occur to me to speculate upon what the evangelist would do with the money. Once it is given, it belongs God. He will judge the manner in which it is spent.
I was eager to give something of value, and I put up my hand. But do you know that not very many in the congregation gave any indication of wanting to give? While we are looking for “signs following” those who believe, let us look at the manner in which they give. That will tell us a whole lot more than anything else. Because when we give, we love....loving is not getting, it’s giving. The Apostle Paul must have felt the sting of the stinginess of those whom he loved and nurtured in Christ. I have read through the verses describing his life over and over again, and it seems to me as though the people would have soon as seen him starve.
It is a shame to the Church, even today, that unless pastors and teachers or evangelists feather the nests of the believers with fond words and praise and flattery, those believers are certainly not going to feather the pastor’s nest. It is the one way that satan has gotten into the Church - he has held the reigns of the believers’ hearts where money is concerned and so the pastor and leaders, in order to survive, cave in and let the world rush in where angels fear to tread.
I know a little of what I’m talking about. I have ministered to the Lord since 1956. I had an unusual calling, and now I know why. God must raise up people who want nothing but His will. He must have people whose concern is only for His glory. He must have people who love Him more than they could ever love their own selves.
And how can people love power, position, wealth, and the world and all of it’s glory and still love God so completely that they are His witnesses....shining lights in a world of darkness? The cannot. But I can, and I will, and I shall continue to do so until He takes me to Glory.
But the reason that I can is because I don’t love mammon, I will admit that such a life is not easy. All of the forces of hell rush in to make you swerve from the path that God lays out before you. But if you really love Him with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind, then you don’t fall into disobedience - no matter what. I can understand how ministers fall for satan’s wiles and give in to their parishioners demand to tell them good things - to make them feel important. I can understand this because when you have children and the responsibilities that a family brings in, then you fear poverty. But God is greater than all the forces of hell, and after He has disciplined you he will provide.
The Apostle Paul must have been tempted time and again to give in to his people and in a sense “save himself”. He admits to the Corinthian Christians that he “robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do them service.” Paul was saying, if effect, that the Corinthians were so stingy that they took all that he offered in the way of teaching and spiritual nourishment, and than let someone else take care of his needs. What a disgrace to the Name of Jesus Christ! Here was a man chosen by Almighty God to be the vessel that would reveal the entire mystery of the formation of the Church, Having to get help from other churches because his congregation was too sinful to recognize his needs, Paul should have been treated like a Prince...instead he was treated like a pauper.
And do you know why? Do you know why you will not give to those who give you true nourishment and true knowledge of God’s Word? Because you believe that you hold within your own hands the power of supply. If a man tells you good things, you will supply his need. If he promises to put your name up on a board in the sight of all the people, saying that you gave such and such and promises you that you are an integral part of that growth, and so why not send more so that he can reach more people - if you hear this kind of language you will support his ministry. Why? Because if makes you feel important; because your ego can get just one more boost; because you feel that you are a part of a “great work”.
Well, let me tell you something. We are all part of a great work, but this work is not reaching the multitudes. It is not healing and preaching and ministering to the poor. The great work of which we are a part is our place in the family of God....We were saved by grace, sanctified by grace, chosen to a specific ministry by grace and we fulfill it all by grace. How on earth can we take credit for what God Himself has accomplished through the life and death and ascension of His only begotten Son?
I am personally becoming sick of hearing about people. We are told not to put one “up before another”. We are told that he which is greatest among us is our servant. Paul the Apostle taught these truths. He could not bear to see the froth and frolic and merry making of those who should have known that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Holy God...a LIVING GOD. He warned them, time and again, that satan had come in transforming himself into an angel of light. He saw what was happening: people were being deceived because they wanted to serve God AND the world. And you can’t. No matter who tells you that you can, you can’t. So what happened to Paul when he warned them? They fell away. They left him stranded. And they were the losers, not Paul. I just pray to God that I can say, when He takes me, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”. The believers who left the Gospel that Paul taught them could never say that, and they will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and be ashamed at the manner in which they treated God’s faithful servant, Paul.
The tendency today is to prove a person’s ministry by signs following. Well, let us look at just one list of credentials that Paul set forth about himself: he was a “spectacle unto the world, to angels and to men: he was (considered) a fool for Christ’s sake: he was weak: he was despised: He was hungry, and thirsty, and naked: he was buffeted: he had no certain dwelling place: he had to work with his own hands in order to eat: he was reviled yet he was blessed: he was persecuted but he accepted it meekly as all of God’s plan for his life: he was defamed, made as filth of the world, and an off scouring of all things”. If you don’t believe this , read I Corinthians 4:9-13. And I might add that his portion of Scripture was one of the many Words that God gave me when He called me into His ministry.
If you are a thinking person, how does the description of Paul add up in comparison with the evangelist of today, we meet many people as we go about, ministering to Jesus, and one night we providentially came across a young man who drives a truck and we discovered that we were kin in Christ. We had such a wonderful time, and we discussed the condition of the Church today. Now this young man hadn’t been saved all that long, yet he had a discerning spirit. He noted that while the evangelists today are all proclaiming that unless the believers in the TV audience send in money at once, much of the work will be off the air. Then he said, “But that same guy is wearing one of those five hundred dollar suits that doesn’t have a slit in the back - it has slits on the sides.”
I had to laugh. I had not noticed the slits, but I had thought that if people are going to beg, then they should wear clothes that befit a beggar. We did tell the young man that while the vessel could be wrong, God’s Word itself is never wrong, so get what he could from whatever of God’s Word the man was preaching and leave the speaker to God.
You see, there is too much of man’s personality in today’s preaching; and God’s personality is left out. I would not hesitate to figure that if all the work in the flesh were done away with today, not over one percent of the TV ministries would be left. Take away the music that has the touch of the world in it.....take away the fanfare, the forcefulness of the evangelists’ personalities.....take away the “easy believism” and you would lose almost all of it. It offends me in spirit to hear anyone say, “God loves you just the way you are.” He hates the lying, cheating, stealing, the gossip, the immorality, the unkindness, the pretensions. He hates everything that His Son had to die for. But He loves us. And because He does, He will not indefinitely put up with what we do with His Son”s indwelling Holy Spirit. One day there will be a reckoning; you can bet on that and then nothing but that which was done by His Spirit will be left. Everything else will go. The Church will hold a bankruptcy sale.
Sometimes I realize that I might be flogging a dead horse. I never hear any pros or cons concerning my messages. Certainly I am not supported by anyone other that the living God; we received the grand total of twenty-five dollars during the year of 1984 for our ministry. If I were like most Christians and “workers” I would assume that my ministry is a failure. I would look at the ‘support’ and then say,”Well, no one believes in my ministry so I will just do like all the other ministers. I will either start begging or just quit.....let the world go to hell and who cares?”
But I am different. By the grace of God, I was called to love whether I am loved back or not.....to give when there is never any return....to hope when there is nothing visible to hope for...to praise God in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation., And I will continue to do so. God needs people to love Him, to serve Him, to minister to Him.
When I read and re-read the story of the Apostle Paul’s life, I begin to experience a joy that is quite unexplainable...I begin to realize that in the long line of individuals who were chosen to keep the faith, I am one of them. Call it bragging if you wish. I call it confidence. It is confidence in the very Word of God who promises us light as long as there is a world.
I have joined the company of believers who stood crystal clear in a corrupt world and a corrupt people of God. I have joined the old prophets who were held in derision, but who nevertheless believed that God is holy and will never abdicate His throne. I have joined the company of the women who followed Jesus from the Cross to the Tomb, and who KNEW HIM on that resurrection morn. And I have stepped in and stood in the gap when it cost all that I had to do so.
At least I won’t be ashamed at Jesus’ coming.
What a Way to Live was written and originally published in the July, 1985 Wingspread, just prior to Billie going into the prison ministry. It follows up on last month’s’s message concerning the “rubbish.”
And the following page is something Billie wrote on August 22nd of last year. It was the last entry she ever made in her journals. What can I say? This show that Billie was ready. This is the attitude we all should have before God.
From Billie's Journals - August 22, 2003
I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I wrote last. A lot has happened to reveal my own “hurts” and all of it was “self.” I am ashamed of all that before my Father in Heaven.
How can I expect to “feel good” in a world gone crazy - The CNN news has continual “bad” news- wild fires burning up the West - terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Baghdad - racial unrest, a very bad political situation. Most of the TV ads show naked women and most girls look like prostitutes, and evidently parents think it’s “okay.” I am glad we don’t belong anywhere but right here on Our Mountain. It means we are enough like Jesus for “the world to hate us.” I am growing up in my attitudes that used to make me feel lonely. We only miss what we never really had.
I just thank God I belong to Him.
I believe my decision to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with my God is all I’ll ever need from now on.
Willie Clark at the Robertson unit in Abiline,Texas: That the courts work in his favor on appeal-and that he can be transferred closer to Houston, near his children.
Ronnie Chaney at Brickey, Arkansas, asks us to pray that his sister will get along better with his mother.
Continue to pray for Sharon, Brian’s sister-in-law ... Her last test showed that she is cancer free!!!
Stephano Jackson at OSP, McAlester, Oklahoma...for his family, that they will all forgive each other and learn to get along as a family again, and for Stephano, personally, that he will continue to trust in God and not give up and give into satan.
Robert Heffernan, at the Varner Unite at Grady, Arkansas, Will be seeing a cardiologist some time in August. Pray that his exam turns out alright.
George Hurst’s daughter, Sandra Wilson, who lives in Dequeen, Arkansas, has third degree stomach cancer, Pray for her, and for Mr Hurst, as he just moved down there to look after her.
Richard Crews at McAlester, Oklahoma, as that we pray about his hand and arm which hurts all the time...also pray for his family.
Also continue praying for Robert Heffernan at Grady, Arkansas, that his test results will be good.
Pray for Ken Hogan’s son who is still MIA in Afghanistan, Pray for Ken, as well.
Richard Taylor, at Boley, Oklahoma, asks for prayer that his ulcer doesn’t get any worse.
Pray for Sister Ann and the nuns at Carmel who pray for us and each of you daily.
Pray for Willie Scott, At Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for his freedom.
Dorothy Weese, her daughter Judy and her husband, Steve, need our prayers. Dorothy just lost her husband in a traffic accident, and Judy has been in the hospital for over 3 weeks now. Judy has Leukemia.
Anthony Grayson of Fallsburg, New York asks us to pray the his “legal issues will become legal miracles.” He wants us to pray until his appeal process is exhausted.
Pray that Michael Small’s son, Derek, will come back to Christ. Michael is at Menard, Illinois.
Pray for our brothers on death row.
And for all of us at WINGSPREAD.
Someone Suggested to us a couple of months ago that we start letting everyone know about the prayers that have been answered. So here are a few:
*Brian’s sister in law was diagnosed with lung cancer about two or three months ago. She has one or two treatments remaining but the latest test results show she is “cancer free”.
*Francis Nolan Holland’s aunt Wilma no longer suffers. The Lord took her a couple of weeks ago.
*Prayers for Munchy are working....He is walking again!!
*Prayers for Margaret and Shirley have helped. They are both pretty well back to “normal”. My heart check-up turned out great, too. Everyone here is fine.
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