By Billie Marie Zal
Once in a while, in the scheme of God’s plan for mankind, some of us are aware that there is something more than this life as we know it. Somewhere out there in the vast realms of God’s heavens, there is a Voice and in spite of the eons of time that it takes for light to travel from a star, in spite of the din of demon spirits who work continually for their master Satan, in spite of the circumstances around us, and the fears and sorrows and yes - even the joys - we know, WE KNOW, that there is Someone out there. And it is not an extra terrestrial. God is out there.
He speaks and when He Does, all creation waits to hear what He has to say.
By His eternal Spirit, He invites us to come to Him, God the Father, through the way of the Cross of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. For this invitation is open to all those who long to be something more than just a failure, frail and weak within themselves. It is open to every man. God, we are told by Himself, is not willing that any should perish.
This invitation comes when we least expect it. We might be in deepest sin, hearts torn with doubts and fears, facing the unknown eternity. Or, we might be full of ourselves, assured that we have lived “right” and therefore we have a place reserved for us in the Father’s House.
Neither assumption is true. We are a lost humanity, helpless, hopeless, tossed about with every wind that blows, confused, bound by habits which we cannot break, lonely and fearful, and totally depraved. That is what we are.
That is what we were when Jesus Christ inhabited a body and was born as a man - not as a God, but as a man. He took upon Himself this body so that He might understand how a human being felt, living in sin. He did this because sin is alien to this Triune God. He is perfect, without spot or blemish, totally above the heavens, and beneath the earth, and He lives beyond the farthest galaxy. And yet He lives here, by His Holy Spirit, within the hearts of those who have answered the Invitation.
He is an awesome God. No one should presume to question Him, ever, but mankind does question. He is blamed for all of the things that have come into this world because of the original sin of Adam. From that moment on, when satan obtained mastery over Adam and Eve, rebellion was born within their hearts - rebellion against the absolute authority of God Almighty. And ever since, we ourselves are born with that same rebellion from the moment that we leave the womb.
But from the beginning it was not so. God, one day in eternity past, must have been lonely. This is difficult for me to comprehend. God - The Triune God - LONELY? He had myriads of angels, so many that no one could ever count them. They all sang His praises, ministered to Him, displayed His Glory in the heavens. But they were only angels. God wanted to create a man, like Himself. And so one day He said, “Let us make man in our own image.” To whom was He speaking? Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, of course. Although He is One, He is Three. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
His Son had been enough, and by Him and through Him were all things created. God’s son was there, to manifest His eternal Glory. And that was good.
But He wanted to create a man, like Himself. A man innocent of the knowledge of sin, a man who would never rebel, who would recognize that his very existence depended upon the honor he gave back to the God who gave him life.
Adam became this man. But he had a will. He had a body, and a soul, and a spirit with which he communicated with God. And he was satisfied. He lived in this wonderful garden which God had created for him, and it is inconceivable how one man tended that garden, named all of the animals, and lived without the knowledge of sin (good and evil), without sickness, without all of the things that destroy and kill.
But Adam was alone, and God felt His “aloneness.” And so God took from Adam one of his ribs, and created out of it a woman who would be Adam’s help mate. Her name was Eve. Eve, who could have been a glory to God and to Adam, and perhaps was until one day when satan, God’s eternal enemy, came walking. He had disguised himself of course, and inhabited a serpent which we are told stood upright and was one of God’s most beautiful creatures.
And he seduced Eve with the word that if she would eat of that fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would be wise, like God.
So Eve sinned. Of her own will, she took of that fruit and immediately her eyes were opened to the reality that she possessed a powerful agent within herself. It was her own will, the
power to choose. And she immediately used that power to cause Adam to join her in her defiance of God’s order.
You know the story. They were cast out of the Garden (a just judgment) and God’s compassion for sinners is evidenced even then when He made coats of skins for them, to cover their nakedness. The age of innocence was past. They needed a covering. The blood of the animals that God killed was the first hint of the wondrous blood of the Lamb of God who was to come one day and “take away the sin of the world.”
And so God loved. And He gave His only begotten Son to all of us. And if we believed on Him we would have everlasting life.
In today’s world, people are so fearful. Once our original parents sinned, the spirit of Fear entered into the world. I don’t recall ever a time when there were so many remedies for so many ailments that would keep us young, healthy, happy, ageless. People will do anything to ward off old age. But does it work? No. God’s eternal order is that we are born, we grow up, we live a certain amount of years, and we die.
But do we really die? No, we don’t. The sinner doesn’t die, and the person who is saved doesn’t die. Everyone lives forever, some in God’s Kingdom, some in an assigned place of judgment. And that is why everyone fears death. Within our hearts, we KNOW that what we are here, and what we do here, will count for what does happen to us at the death of our bodies.
Those who truly know God and are safe in His family, look forward to the day that these “vile bodies” will be redeemed and transformed into glorified bodies that will know no hurt, or pain, or fear, or sorrow - only pure joy!
But those who are not born of God will never possess a transformed body, and will exist throughout eternity in a soulish hell created by one’s own deeds while here on earth.
I think back upon the things for which God forgave me on that night when I was born again, and I praise Him without end that I do not HAVE to live with those sins and endure
their torment throughout eternity. But more, I do not have to be separated from all that is Love and Light. That is the worst punishment that I could ever imagine - to be separated from God, Ruler of the Universe, and Lover of my Soul.
I used to wonder, years ago, why people were so eager to get others into the family of God. There are many reasons, some good, and some selfish. And we can see clearly when there
are ulterior motives to “winning souls.” But those who truly know God and realize what is ahead for all of us will never fail to tell people the plan of salvation because they so much want everyone to inherit all of the wonders that God has prepared for them. Sometimes, we do not “tell” people of this plan. We live it, and they are drawn to Him by that.
I don’t want anyone I have ever known in my lifetime to miss out on the glorious reality of Heaven. Once someone was very cruel to me, and God granted me grace to forgive him. Years and years later, I heard that he had died, and my very first thought was, “Oh Lord, I do hope he made it to Heaven.” Salvation is open to everyone, and no one needs to be left out.
And the marvelous part of our life, after salvation, is that God can use us. We are valuable to Him. And we all want to be of value. It’s in our genes. I was especially blessed one day, then, in March, 1986, when God by His Spirit called me to minister to prisoners. I had always longed to reach those whom society had rejected, but if my life was to count, I must first be taken through circumstances and trials which would refine me, and make me ready for service of this nature.
I entered this ministry alone, really. I took by Bible and went into a jail and suddenly, like the battle of Jericho, all the walls fell down flat, and I was permitted to walk in, tell these men that Jesus Christ had sent me to remind them that He identifies with them, and is right there - because He had said to me, “I was in prison and you came to Me.”
This work has been a blessing to me from the very first day that I went into it. God, by His Spirit, enabled me to see beyond the sin, the broken lives, the hopes and fears and anger and sorrow - to the very heart of the individual himself. And I was to “let my Light so shine, that each person could see Jesus Christ and be drawn to Him, and His eternal Love.”
We sometimes mistakenly present God’s plan of salvation by using methods, every kind of worldly aid, to reach people for Christ. But the Gospel is simple. It is contained completely in the two commandments, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, soul, strength, and mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.” That is all we are asked to do. We don’t have to work at it, not if we love that way. And we love that way when all of our other loves are laid at the feet of Jesus, and He gives us the very Gift of the Father: His divine Love. Then, and only then, will others see Him within us, and either accept Him or reject Him. There are only the two choices, nothing more.
But I am troubled today by the way the Gospel is being presented in these perilous times. Many, many years ago, I would drive all the way across the great city of Chicago just to listen to
a preacher who had a small church, in comparison with today’s massive congregations. His name was A.W. Tozer, and he preached like no one else I had ever heard. Then, during his very last message before he left, he stood up and made a statement that could cause people today to gasp. He said, “If we continue, as a Church, to use the world’s methods, to have nothing but fun and frolic and use big time show business personalities to bring in the crowds, then I believe the day will come when we might as well bull doze all the buildings down and put in a bowling alley or a recreational center. The Gospel is not being preached and God cannot inhabit such a Body.”
If he were here today, he would see that this time has come. We have fun, frolic, shows, musical reviews, seminars on what to eat, how pray, how to give, and even how to be more intimate in our marriages.
I do not believe that Dr. Tozer would be asked to preach in any of the congregations of the larger denominations today. His message would cut to the quick and he would probably be asked to leave the platform.
We don’t have men like him today and I wish that we did. I have his books, and many of his sermons, and when I check the religious broadcasting on the TV set, I find myself giving up, and getting out his books to receive comfort and chastening and to be fed spiritual food. And hopefully, by being fed by this man of God who dared to speak the Truth no matter what, I might just become a little more like the living Christ within me.
Maybe it is too late now, ever to see a Church that glorifies God the way He must be glorified if He is to visit us in our assemblies and homes. But here and there, you will find someone, if you truly look for CHRIST, in a person who has gone too far ever to turn back.
And when you do find such a person, get all of the teaching you can from that teacher and determine to follow Christ unconditionally, whatever the cost and whatever the loss. And you will know God as He wants you to know Him.
And then you will have accepted The Invitation.
Brian & Gail
Ed & Shirley
Rodney & Margaret
Many of you have been asking for photos of us, so here we are.
We made it through 2010 and are ready to start another year. Last year was a good year and we have no complaints. Eddie is still with us, despite the ups and downs of health issues. Shirley is doing very well. She handles Eddie’s health problems like a pro, never complains, and always has a bright attitude about things. All of us have been well, except for minor health issues, which is expected at our ages. Margaret is looking forward to another possible eye surgery in the spring. We’re waiting for the FDA to approve everything.
Thanks to all of you who sent Christmas cards and notes last month. There were so many, and we know that it was a sacrifice for some of you because greeting cards are not that easily obtained where you’re at.
All the best to everyone in 2011!
Prayer Requests for January, 2011
For Robert Ross, Lexington, Oklahoma, who would like to hear from his children.
For Thomas Bible, Ina, Illinois, who just lost his brother.
For Steve Golina’s niece, Angelina, who lost her father in a car accident. Steve is at Buckeye, Arizona.
For Earl Oswalt, Taft, Oklahoma, for health. He has many medical problems to deal with at once.
For James Montilla’s Mother in law, Ava, and her friend, Gary, for their health, and for finances to improve. James is at Florence, Arizona.
For Ed Ewing, Visalia, California.
For Mike Long, at Larned, Kansas, for health. Mike has been with us from the days when Billie started Wingspread.
For Ken Hogan, Death Row at McAlester, Oklahoma, for his shoulder to completely heal.
For Cleveland Cook, Buckeye, Arizona, that he can be baptized soon.
For Johnny Carruthers, Florence, Arizona, who will be having hernia surgery any day. He just got back from having all the pre-testing done.
For Willie Davis at the Cook County jail in Chicago, who is being retried after an appeal.
For Anthony Grayson, Comstock, New York, who just filed his appeal.
For Roger Best at Holdenville, Oklahoma, who has Somnambulism (sleep-walking).
For Willie Scott at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for his health.
For Jimmy Huff and his ministry at Colorado City, Texas.
For Willie Clark, Iowa Park, Texas, who is awaiting a decision on parole.
For Michael Small’s step Mother, Suzanne, for health, and that her cancer will stay in remission. Michael is at Menard, Illinois.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr., Death Row, Grady, Arkansas.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Galesburg, Illinois, for his health, and that he stays “cancer free.”
For Willie Harper, Joliet, Illinois, that his cancer stays in remission.
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, for health.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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