Setting Our Affections
By Billie Marie Zal
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Somewhere along the way the Church, which is the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth, set her affections on things on the earth, and moth and rust has corrupted her possessions.
The truth of this statement is obvious by the display of attitudes on the part of those who profess to know and love God. For everywhere, in every assembly, whether it be fundamental or liberal, there is a tendency toward being not only in the world but of it. Recently on a TV newscast I listened with disbelief as a reporter interviewed a minister concerning the establishment of a “half-way house” in his immediate neighborhood. He and his congregation, as well as others in his community, were violently protesting against having the half-way house there and when the reporter inquired of the pastor if he felt his attitude was in keeping with the teachings of Christ, the minister replied, “Oh yes, I believe so.”
I blushed with shame for the people of God whose representative this man is, for he was reflecting something quite different from the Christ who is the head of the Church. The story of the good Samaritan disputes the fact that it could be God’s will to dispute the establishment of a half-way house in a Christian environment! When the reporter asked the minister his reasons for opposing the project he said that it would cause their property value to go down and frighten some of his parishioners. And so this man is still earthbound in his affections and as a result he displays a childish, fearful faith which in no way makes him a reflection of the divine life of Jesus Christ within. We are always afraid when we are earthbound and we are usually totally ignorant of the Lord’s demands upon our personal lives.
There are other attitudes which reflect an earthbound disposition of the Church. This is the tendency to try and “make it” in the world, or to be “successful.” And so religious leaders, frothing at the mouth to succeed have given up trying to pray down the Holy Ghost and bring in
a real revival from God, and have thrown away the divine principles to the extent that they will try to get converts any way they can.
Since people whose natural affections are still earthbound want to be on the winning side they are wide open for the promises that if they just trust the Lord for their personal Savior then something good is bound to happen to them! Though these promises are most appealing to our self life they are seldom true. All of us desperately want something good to happen to us. We always associate good things with God’s blessing upon us, and bad things as God’s displeasure. We like to hear someone tell us that we can get favor with God and invoke blessings thereby. But just say that we go ahead and believe in Christ and take the Lord’s Name as our own and something good does not happen? Say that our house burns down, or our health fails, or we lose a loved one, or our reputation is dragged in the mud. What happens to our faith then? If we were not grounded and rooted in the true Word of God then our faith will not stand the test of trial and we will go from one evangelist to the next fervently seeking a new experience that will get us in position to receive a blessing like the evangelists promise! We will try to be “good” and please God so that His hand will be upon us for good.
Erroneous teaching concerning blessings will get the Church nowhere nearer to God. And if we seek Him because we believe that if we do seek Him then something good is going to happen to us we are never going to know the joy of finding Him. The trouble with this type of teaching (promising good things will happen) is that it is not the age for the Church to know her fullest glory. The Kingdom on earth has not yet been set up and we as members of the Lord’s Body are in enemy territory. Even our common sense tells us that if we intrude into a territory that is not ours during a war, then our soldiers can expect to be shot at. And so we can expect to be shot at, spiritually speaking. Satan can lose a soul to God when we are saved and though this riles him, his next step is to blind our eyes to spiritual truths so that our sights are set on getting a kingdom for ourselves in the “now” generation! In doing this he keeps us from being effective vessels for the glory of the Lord to shine through. But it we are taught properly of the Lord then we realize that in the Old Testament days men could indeed please God through obedience to the Law. But then Christ came, fulfilled the Law, and set us free from the Law. Our only effectiveness today, before the Lord comes again, is to apprehend that to live is Christ. In other words, we are not to ask for blessings. We are to receive the Blessed One. We are not to ask for gifts. We are to receive the Gift of God, the living Christ, and live as though we ourselves are dead to self.
If only this truth could be accepted today by children of God; then the Church would be no longer earthbound. The Church would become a vehicle through which the glory of God could shine through. And Christians would leave off trying to build an earthly tabernacle for the Lord. This kind of building is going on today in the name of “super aggressive evangelism.” Ministers who are supposedly on fire for the Lord are building their congregations to gigantic
proportions. The minister who gets the highest number of converts on his church rolls is looked upon as a “great man of God.”
I do not agree with this thinking, for it is not confirmed in God’s Word. Great men of God were usually failures according to world standards and I am sure that their buildings would never have been filled to capacity during meeting time because their message was not a comfortable one. Not long ago I was listening to a radio message and getting a little blessing out of it as far as spiritual enlightenment is concerned. Then the pastor came to a Scripture that dealt with the deceitfulness of riches, and he went off on a ten minute apology for having to teach this particular part of God’s Word. The only explanation is that he still has his treasures laid up on earth and one of these treasures is his desire for men’s approval. The day that we trim our message in order to please anyone in our congregation, that is the day that we lose our anointing. For we become bound to earth and we keep the entire Church earthbound with us.
I am so thankful that from my beginning days God dealt harshly with me and did not permit me to get very far in laying up treasures on earth. I was called within one year from my salvation to live by faith in Him alone. Not in supply, nor in blessings, nor in an accumulation of friends and ministries, but in Him. I had heard all the messages by pastors who said that if we would only accept the Lord as our Savior then we would enter a life of heaven on earth. We would be finished with the sin problem, the health problem, the money problem. It sounded so wonderful. But fortunately for me, all these good things did not happen. I was called to trust God alone for my needs and as I gave up my earthly treasures one by one I began to gain a heavenly vision and set my sights there instead of here.
But to my delight I discovered that spiritual enlightenment came to me each time I was dealt with by the Lord and left some treasure behind. I learned to speak the truth and not shade it if it hurt some dear friend or loved one. I learned that God comes first and His will may cause us much grief in the human sense because it denies us securities that nurture the self within. I suffered want - want of money, of good food, of health, of friends, of relatives, of just about everything one can name. And that is why an experience I had most recently came as such a wonderful gift of God.
It had been pouring rain, but on that day the sky was all glorious with that bright blue that defies the word called “pollution.” Our waterfalls come crashing down the limestone gorge after such a rain, and it is my habit to find one particular spot and stand there and think upon the things of God.
I walked to my favorite waterfall, leaned against one of the oak saplings that grows there
and began to commune with God. It was in early Autumn and the leaves were all yellow, a brilliant, happy yellow that cast a warm glow all about me. It was as I communed with God that suddenly He spoke to me.
“During all these years that you have been with Me, have you lacked anything?” He asked (when one hears God speak there can be no mistake that it is He).
Instantly, without the slightest hint of hesitation, I quickly replied, “No, Lord, I have lacked nothing.”
Then I heard Him say, “Take the shoes off your feet, for the ground whereon you stand is holy.”
I realized that He had spoken these words to Moses at the burning bush. But for me there was no burning bush and so I pondered the meaning of His Word to me. And then I saw what it meant! When He asked me if I had lacked anything my answer was immediate. I had said in the Spirit that I had lacked nothing, for had I answered in the flesh I would have replied “Yes, I have lacked food at times, and money for my needs, and friends, and many things.” But at that moment I was granted the spiritual revelation that if I have the Son Himself, then I lack nothing. Experiences are merely God’s way of stripping us of the treasures that we have accumulated and which keep us from laying up our treasures in heaven, where they truly belong and where they can never be taken away from us.
And so this was the “holy ground” that God spoke of, the revelation that in Christ we lack nothing. It is this revelation that the Church needs today, so that once again her treasures will be laid up in heaven and she will put off her attachment to the world.
If you are at this time going through trying circumstances, take hold of God and ask Him to give you this revelation, and pray for the next Christian and the next to receive it so that the Church will once again be a vessel unto honor for God, and that she might take her rightful place in the world as an instrument of light and grace and truth to those who are seeking Him.
- From the January, 1973 Wingspread
This message was written in 1973, over thirty years ago. I marvel at the insight Billie had even then; and since the day this was written the Church has deteriorated to a place where it is mostly a form of entertainment. People who were at one point teaching from the Bible now teach family values, how to be a better person, how to be healed, how to be wealthy, and some sell vitamins. The graces that can come only through a personal knowing of Jesus Christ are now counterfeited by the “how to teachings.” Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15
We want to thank everyone who remembered Ed and Jay’s birthdays. They appreciate you all. We have no fathers on our mountain and that’s okay. The men still appreciated the thought and act of respect toward them by the cards and greetings.
The ashes of John Boltz were shipped to us last week, and we buried them in a very pretty spot, of what used to be my wild flower bed. Besides wild flowers it now has pine trees everywhere and will some day be a pine forest. The wild flowers re-seed themselves every year so the place will always be beautiful.
We had some requests from other prisoners wanting to be buried here. We feel honored at such requests; this is God’s mountain and even though we are separated from our bodies at death, it still is a nice thought to know where the body is. The problem is that it takes money. John’s cremation, transportation, etc., was paid for by one of his family members. We simply do not have the money for such an undertaking.
Other news from the mountain: Brian and Gail made an overnight trip to Hot Springs and to Little Rock, where they visited President Clinton’s library. They don’t like to be gone for a long time, but they deserve much more of a vacation. They faithfully go to work every day and do so many things for this ministry. It would be hard to tell it all.
Ed and Shirley are well. Their yard is the prettiest it has been for many years. Ed still works and Shirley stays busy in her yard and does a great deal of work with all the stray dogs we still care for.
Jay continues to be a blessing to us all. God did send him here, no doubt about that. He is the youngest and strongest and always willing to pitch in with any chore. His only “vice” is a bingo game at the VFW every week.
A wild cat showed up on our front porch not long ago. He was scared to death. But his fear was overcome by all the good food he found here. After many standoffs and near fights, and being chased off often, He and Harry have finally come to a truce. Bruno, who thinks he owns the mountain, took a little longer to accept him, but all three now tolerate each other and share the plates of food on the porch. We named our new cat, “Clyde.”
Rodney and I had a cookout for everyone on Memorial day. Just burgers, chips, baked beans, blueberry and cherry pies. Nothing fancy, but we all enjoyed the get-together on our new deck that Brian and Rodney built last winter. Brian and Gail are having a cookout for us on the 4th of July. I know that holidays are hard on anyone who is away from home and family, and believe me, we do not take our blessings for granted.
The IRS has finally settled on a sum they say we owe. The amount they want is so large that we have no earthly hope of ever paying it. Please pray that they will lower the amount. Humanly speaking there is no hope, but our faith and hope is in God who has no needs and who owns everything. So it is in His hands.
Brian & Gail's front deck
Rodney & Margaret's yard
Some of Shirley's flowers
Prayer Requests for July, 2006
For Randal Smith at McAlester, Oklahoma, for his health.
For Johnnie Dunnum at Lexington, Oklahoma, for his blood pressure to stabilize.
For Raymond Sanders at Iowa Park, Texas, for his health.
For Tommy Hayes, His family, and everyone at the Estelle Unit at Huntsville, Texas.
For Ted Ricks at McAlester, Oklahoma, for a transfer to JHCC.
For Robert Heffernan, Brickeys, Arkansas, for an attorney and for DNA testing.
For Karen Griffin at McCloud, Oklahoma, for strength to battle her cancer.
For Juan Cervanes at McAlester, Oklahoma, for a good job.
For Willie and Johnny Hoffman’s Mother, for her health.
For Sister Ann and the Nuns in Little Rock.
For Robert Ross at Helena, Oklahoma, for a time cut.
For Michael Small’s son, Derek Hermes, “that he will be delivered and kept safe.” Michael is at Menard, Illinois.
For Willie Scott at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for clemency from the Governor.
For Randal Smith at McAlester, Oklahoma, that he’ll feel better, and that his sister will start writing to him.
For Willie Clark at Abilene, Texas, that he will hear from his family. Also, pray that Willie is transferred to a facility near Houston.
For Ponnell Buchanan’s daughter, for a safe and healthy baby delivery.
For Wingspread. Satan is attacking our equipment (we’re having satellite problems and a computer problem) and we need your prayers for rain, and for the matter concerning the IRS.
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