The Invitation
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.
     -from the May, 1999 Wingspread


A Note From Margaret:
I had been thinking for several days about the call of God. He said in John 15:15 “ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”
     I believe from experience, when a person feels that need for something beyond the things of this world. Then God’s call is upon you, and you better “nurture” that call and don’t smother it.
     God has left his foot prints everywhere. We only need to look for them. God is not lost and He knows where you are.
     Someone long ago compared that call from God to the bird being called from it’s autumn nest - “to an unseen spring and a land that is nearer than the nest, because it is in it’s heart.”
     That’s how I feel. God is nearer than my home, family, or circumstances because He is in my heart. So who can I run to but Him?

A Note from Brian:
The other day when Gail and I were packing our things to move into the “big house” we came across a prayer request list that Gail and Billie made at least 15-20 years ago. There were ten requests on it and you know all but one has been answered! We had misplaced it and we had not even realized that God had answered nine of the prayer requests. They were not all answered the way we probably thought they would but, all nine were brought about in God’s own way.
     So, we decided to make another list and this one has eleven requests. And they were not simple ones. Of course no ones prayer requests at the time of petition, seem like they would be easy for God to answer. But, why not be bold? There is nothing that is too hard for our Father.
     We are both very thankful for the beautiful house we have been able to move into. We were able to get some new carpet and a few new pieces of furniture for the bedroom. Gail has very good decorating sense. I know she learned a lot from Billie. I am sure Billie would be very proud of her if she was here.
     I have been doing a lot of “grunt” work this week during the move. We are going to put our washer and dryer in the breakfast room, that had no plumbing for it. I teed into the hot and cold water, and piped through the wall, added a vent through the wall for the dryer, added sixty feet of drain pipe, and now I am finishing up the gas line.
     Our three cats, Tiger, Hobo, and Maggie have all finally adjusted. Maggie the youngest , decided after twenty four hours she could live in the “big house” and Tiger the oldest came about in a couple of days. But Hobo, was scared for the better part of five days and would not show his face. I think he is over it, because today he caught a mouse, and I did not think he even knew what one was. Tiger and Hobo, are both house cats, because when Billie had the wolves, we decided to keep them in the house. The wolves had more than one meal of unlucky cats, and ground hogs. Coco, our dog, a Lhasa Apso breed , has adjusted very well. She is
     back to her favorite past time of dragging Maggie, our little black cat around by the neck. Maggie thinks that Coco is her mother and doesn’t mind, thinks it is great fun.

Do You Really Love Me?
By Isaac D.
     Do you really love Me? If you know Me, you’ll love Me. . . And if you love Me, you’ll keep My Commandments. Do you really know Me? Because you never seem to have time for Me. You don’t seem to be very passionate about reading my Word anymore. You hardly seem to care about how you conduct yourself around others. I have said, “Be Holy,” because I AM HOLY!
     Sometimes, it seems as though we’ve forgotten that Jesus died for our sins, and the glorious truth of how His blood appeased God’s wrath against sin on our behalf. Hallelujah! We were bought with an awesome price, saints; therefore, we’re indebted to our Lord and Savior Jesus. We have been given a new life!
     Paul the Apostle stated that “We ought to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [we] were called” (Ephesians 4:1). We must follow Jesus, His teachings, and His example of complete submission/obedience to God. Jesus was (and still is) committed to a loving service towards everybody, and God has chosen us to be representatives of Christ while we are here on earth. Are you conscious of the fact that people are watching you constantly? Can they see Christ Jesus in you? Are you displaying the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control)?
     People should be able to see a difference between Christians and non-Christians, simply by the lifestyles that the saints are called to live. Always remember that we are the light of this world (Matthew 5:14). Continue to read and meditate upon God’s Word, and put it into practice on a daily basis. Most of all, continue to love people; especially members of the household of faith. It is then that you will really grow in your knowledge and relationship with the Lord. . .it is then that we will truly be functioning as representatives of our Savior and King Jesus.
     Respectfully submitted,
     Brother Isaac D.- Canton, Illinois

Prayer Requests for July, 2005

For Randal Smith, at McAlester, Oklahoma, for his seizures to stop.
For Willie Davis and his daughter. Willie is at Danville, Illinois.
For Francis Nolan Holland’s Father who recently had stomach surgery in Little Rock, and for Nolan’s entire family.
For Shawn Rogers’ family and loved ones.
For Ronald Pearson, McAlester, Oklahoma, to be transferred to a facility where he can attend school.
For our neighbors, Gary, Ginger, Colleen, Cheryl and Sandra, for their health.
For Judy Oakley, for her recovery following stomach surgery.
For Ted Ricks, also at McAlester, Oklahoma, for patience.
For Robert Heffernan, Tucker, Arkansas, that he will get an attorney soon.
For James Bateman, at Waurika, Oklahoma, for his “spiritual walk,” and for his family.
For Frances Nolan Holland, for staph infection to go away; and for his Father’s continued recovery following surgery.
For Andre Lamont Barry, who is in the Oklahoma county jail, that he will be transferred to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections soon.
For Michael Small’s son, Derek, that he will come back to the Church.
For Mike Long at El Dorado, Kansas, for his heart (he recently suffered a heart attack).
For Timothy Richardson, Sumner, Illinois, for a “triumphant outcome” in his civil case.
For Timothy Haynes’ friend at Cushing, for healing of a cancer on his back.
For Willie Clark at the Robertson Unit, that he will get released from Close Custody.
For Sharon Franzen (Brian’s sister-in-law), in Florida, for her nausea to stop and for her strength to return, and that she remain cancer free.
For the Mother of Isaac Douglas’ friend who has cancer and has been given one to two years to live.
For Michael Kinley, at McAlester, Oklahoma, that he will be transferred soon.
For Pastor Melissa Scott in Los Angeles, California.
For Sister Ann and the nuns at Carmel, Little Rock, that God will send young women to the work.
For all of our brothers on Death Row.
For Wingspread.

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