January, 2005 - Choices
By Billie Marie Zal
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
The above Scripture passage probably saved my life - my ETERNAL LIFE - for when I was born again, I was told by older believers that now I was forgiven for all my sins, past, present and future, and from here on, I could do anything because it was “under the blood.” At first this appealed to me. For on the night that I received the new birth, I felt forgiven and cleansed and that I would never have any more sin problems.
This is the “norm” for new babes in Christ. I was in a state of suspended glory and joy unspeakable for the first two or three weeks. I was free indeed, as Jesus had promised! I knew nothing of the difference between the “old man” within us and the “new man.” I just assumed that what Christ had paid for, I would receive and go blissfully through my remaining years on earth with the victory.
As the days wore on, I sensed the power of the “old man or old nature” trying to regain its lost position. I had turned my back on the things that had been so important in my life when I was born again. But little by little the temptations came and one relationship in particular had been wrong. God had said no to it, and I agreed and parted with it. But the desire to resume that relationship kept presenting itself to my mind.
Now I was really miserable. There is nothing so miserable as a believer who has been saved and has tasted of the life of the Holy Spirit and then who considers “drawing back into perdition.” The Bible calls such a person a “double minded man...” a person who is like a well without water, or clouds that go every which way.
There is another description or warning for anyone who has named the Name of Christ and accepted His goodness and have no intention of bowing to His will. We read in the second chapter of Second Peter, “For, if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they did to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it happened unto them according to the true proverb, ‘The dog is turned to his own vomit again and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:20-22).
I thank God that I read this word and it scared me. I was enjoying the bliss of the new life yet I had actually played with the idea that I could sin wilfully and get away with it, “all because of the Blood.” I realize now this was a great act of grace toward me; God knew my heart and He knew that I would listen. Now I knew without a doubt that yes, a believer COULD “draw back into perdition” and suffer the consequences of the wrath of a Holy God.
God was not going to do anything for me. I must make the choice myself. And once a born again believer, we KNOW whether a choice glorified God or the devil. Now I was relieved. I couldn’t “get away with a thing” because God said so. My Mother had been a strict disciplinarian, but she was only human and often I DID get away with things of which she disapproved. But not God!!!
But what now? Since I had been raised in a liberal church I knew nothing of sanctification. I was desperately longing to know God’s Truths, so I sought out others who worshiped Him and taught that we can experience the Joy of the Lord if we belong to Him.
I remember one night so well. I attended a little group whose members seemed to really love the Lord. I was still in the “glory period” of my salvation and the speaker stood up, smiled broadly and said, “How many of us here have not sinned this past week?” Without hesitation, I thankfully threw my hand up high!!! I had experienced the power over the dominion of sin and I assumed that so had everyone else. But I heard a loud gasp of astonishment and I looked around. I was the ONLY one in the room who had put up my hand. I quickly retrieved it and felt guilty the remainder of the evening. As it ended, everyone carefully avoided me.
This puzzled me. If I was a child of God and had received His Son’s life as my own, why did people have to sin wilfully? Why should there be “premeditated sin”? Why COULDN’T one go through a week and not sin wilfully? Much harm was done that night to my faith in the keeping power of God. I felt uneasy. Now my confidence was shaken and the temptations to return to the “old life” presented themselves daily. “After all,” the tempter whispered, “if all of your sins - past, present and future - were already forgiven, why not go ahead and live it out and do as you please?”
Again, the Word of God rescued me. I had read another set of Scripture verses that answered my questions. “For it we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignations, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant with which he WAS SANCTIFIED an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will recompense, saith the Lord,’ and again, ‘The Lord shall judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31).
Now I was REALLY miserable!!! The proof of the reality of our new birth lies in our attitudes toward sin AFTER we are born again. If we are saved, this means that the Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in our spirits. If we hurt Him, we feel it. If we sin deliberately, conviction sets in. If we do not heed the conviction, He withdraws His fellowship. He cannot and will not tolerate deliberate, wilful sin in a believer’s heart. Otherwise, what would be the purpose in the sacrifice of Jesus?
I thank God that I WAS miserable. I praise Him that there was no rest in my spirit during this short period of “halting between two opinions.” Now I was certain that yes, I COULD fall away. Now I knew that we don’t “mess with God.” He is holy and He will and does let His people down to vindicate that holiness. His holiness was more important to me than my fleshly temptation to “return to Egypt” and make my own little nest in the world.
Though I was defeated, I again went to Him for deliverance. I wanted either to have that victory over the power of sin that the Bible promises, or I wanted to die. The world no longer held its power over me. I went to the Source of all forgiveness and cleansing and deliverance: The Triune God.
And I went alone. He would be my Teacher, my Counselor, my Friend. I prayed, “Oh Father God, You know what is happening. You know my heart - my longing when I was born again of Your Spirit never to fall back again into the old life and obey the dictates of the “old man” of my nature. You know that I never again wanted to sin deliberately and wilfully and grieve your Father heart. But now I am between two ways of life. I WANT to do you will perfectly, but I cannot. I HATE sin, but I am falling back into the sin principle. I must receive an answer, Father. I don’t want to live a double life and surely you have the authority to set me free!!!”
His answer came within a few days. By now I felt abandoned and forsaken. But I was invited to a little prayer group in downtown Chicago whose speaker told of victory - of peace and of power to resist sin. This was all I needed to hear. I went down, spoke to him, and he gave me one verse that set me free “indeed.” It was, “I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST: NEVERTHELESS I LIVE, YET NOT I, BUT THE CHRIST LIVETH IN ME. AND THE LIFE THAT I NOW LIVE IN THE FLESH, I LIVE BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, WHO LOVES ME AND GAVE HIS LIFE FOR ME (Galations 2:20).
Immediately the fears, the doubts, the giving in to the flesh left me. I was free. In Christ I died. In Christ I arose. In Christ I ascended to the Throne where all power is given unto Him, and thus to me, His child. I have never looked back, it was so real. And soon I received another verse that sealed the victory: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power (right) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His Name” (I John 1:9). I was a daughter of the most high God! I was favored by Him! NOW I could resist sin. And I can say to the glory of God that I have never gone backwards. Only forward, always, to the “prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.”
There are many of you out there, both in prisons and in the free world, who are saved but are
still enmeshed in the sin principle of your old life. You do not experience the reality of the death of the “old man.” Sin takes over and things that you thought were left behind now play a part in your daily life. What you are doing is failing to recognize that there is a new law in your members, the “law of the Spirit of Life.”
But why this defeat? Is Bod to blame? No way! It is sin. Plain, ugly sin that you love more than you love God Himself. You have choices and you want God to make the final decision. He never will. He doesn’t want puppets. He wants men and women who love Him enough to bring His will down to earth as it is done in Heaven.
Let me tell you a little story that explains your defeat: Young Indian boys, when manhood approaches, must go through some special trial which proves their manhood. If they win the test of manhood they are received into the Tribe as warriors.
One young Indian had longed all his life to climb a very treacherous mountain and reach the top. He did indeed reach the top, where he stood on the rim of the world. Suddenly he heard a voice. He looked down at his feet and there lay a rattlesnake. It said in a very pitiful voice, “Please pick me up and hold me. I am so cold and helpless.”
He replied, “You are a rattlesnake. I don’t want to pick you up.” But the snake kept crying and the young man’s pity got the best of him. So he reached down, picked up the snake and carried him down the mountain with him. When he arrived there, the weather was warm. Suddenly the snake regained his vigor and struck the young Indian.
As he lay dying, he cried, “Why did you do this to me? I carried you back to safety.” The snake replied, “You well knew what I was when you picked me up and held me to your heart. The blame lies with you.” And the Indian died.
So it is with us when we harbor sin in our hearts. It explains why we pick up that first joint, that first drink, that first drug. It explains why we lie and cheat and steal. We well know what it is, but we do it anyhow. We sin because we want to. We choose to. And not until we want God’s will more than we want our own will we ever have any kind of real victory in our lives.
This message frightens its hearers. And it should. It frightened me, and because of it, I have lived a victorious life all these years, all glory to God.
I pray that it will frighten you, too. And you will be set free!!! GOD BLESS!!!
- From the October, 1990 News Notes
IT’S ALMOST WINTER!!! The other day Brian and Gail and I were fishing out on the nearby lake, and suddenly a great flock of geese flew over us. Alongside of them were great blue herons, who accompanied them a short distance, and then came back to the lake. I couldn’t help calling out, “COME BACK!” because it made me sad to see them leave. There is a loneliness in life that compels us to seek something to love and instinctively we know that things do not last forever.
I am always touched by the wisdom of God when I see a flock of geese. There is the “pilot goose,” or “lead goose” and then a “V” formation which is ordered by the strongest. The weak ones are farther down the line, where the winds are not so strong, and within the “V” are the weak ones, and the young ones.
I have always wanted to be a “lead goose.” Not leading people, actually, but bearing the brunt of the winds for others. God only chooses those who are strong in the faith and the power of HIS might to bear these winds, and to be chosen for such a task is a great privilege. But it also brings us much sorrow and much affliction.
Once, many years ago, I was reading my Bible and I came to a little prayer, “Oh, Lord, do not let me die until I have shown they strength to THIS generation.” I marked the prayer, and put the date beside it. I knew I was called to such a task. But strength comes from dying to every hope, every desire of the flesh. It comes when we are weak in ourselves and have “no confidence in the flesh.” And that is when we bear the afflictoins of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ so that others may live.
Somewhere my beautiful wild geese are resting now, waiting out the cold weather, and enjoying their rest after the long and tedious flight. God, in His goodness, gives even His wild birds rest. Will He not much more do the same for us?
A NEW FRIEND FROM THE FOREST: Recently I found a newcomer to our front porch. He was a long, skinny guy who was obviously starving. Every time he saw me, he took off, so I named him “RUNAWAY.” It’s surprising how happy one of God’s creatures is when he finally gets a name! Now he is sleek and handsome, and he no longer runs. He protests loudly so that I will hurry up with the cream and the cat food. We, too, need to be “called by our name” by someone who loves us. Once God said to me, “I have called thee by they name: behold, thou art mine.” When I go through trials, I remember that word, and I am at rest.
Billie wrote this as a News Note and its still so true. We all feel this loneliness in heart that makes us seek out Love which is only found in God.
Rodney& Margaret, Brian & Gail, Shirley & Ed
Prayer List for January, 2005
For Christopher Buehler’s grandfather, who has lung cancer and has had a heart attack.
Danny Stanley At Ellsworth, Kansas, for his heart.........he had two heart attacks in 2004.
For George Hurst and especially for his daughter who has stomach cancer.
Ronald Deon Williams asks that we pray for his Grandmother; also pray for the Adams family to be blessed with a new home.
Pray that Clay Huff will be successful with his clemency efforts in the coming year.
Karen Griffin at McCloud, has applied for a medical parole. She has cancer. Pray for her.
Pray for Tyrone Anderson’s family, especially his aunts Sylvia and Christine, for their health. Also pray for his friend, Stacey, who has a brain tumor.
Pray for the health of Jan Collins, in California.
For Willie Davis at Danville, Illinois, as he awaits DNA testing.
James Bateman asks that we pray for him, his family, and everyone at Granite, Oklahoma.
Pray for Henry Buckaloo at Granite, Oklahoma.
For Dexter McDade & Isaac Douglas and all our brothers at Cantan, Ohio.
Pray for Cleon Johnson & his family, that God will protect them and keep them from harm.
For Ronald Deon Williams’ Mother who is in a nursing home.
For Tommy Hayes, his family, and for everyone at the Robertson Unit.
Michael Small asks us to pray for his Mother, Joanne Smith, for her back condition, and for Derek, Michael’s son, that He will come back to Christ.
Pray for Sister Ann and all the nuns at Carmel.
Pray that Robert Russell gets to see his Mother again before she dies.
Francis Nolan Holland wants to be rid of the bitterness and asks that we pray he not be so nervous.
Pray for the health of Judy Oakley.
Pray for our neighbors across the road.
Robert Heffernan’s heart condition is treatable and “healable” and asks that you keep praying.
Continue to pray for Dr. Scott.
Pray for Willie Davis at Danville, Illinois, for quick results with his DNA testing.
Also pray for Anthony Grayson in New York, for success with his legal efforts.
Pray for Cantrell Watts who is at OSP.
Pray for our brothers at Cushing, Oklahoma, Timothy & Robin, and everyone.
Pray for Munchy. He has discomfort at times but is hanging in there.
Pray for all of us at Wingspread.
Munchy just turned 13 years old; Bruno let Margaret put a pink bow on him
Barney - enjoying a rare break
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