June, 2002 Wingspread
May God get the Glory
By Billie Marie Zal
Everyone knows that we are in the “last days.” It’s probably like the time just before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. There was an excitement---a “knowing.” Yet the world goes on following a downward path to hell , and though we have the Gospel being preached throughout the whole world, morality is at an all time low.
Perhaps we use the wrong “weapons” to fight the good fight of faith. God’s Word tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual to the bringing down of strongholds. This means that the battle is won not by us, but by getting out of God’s way and permitting Him to have the sovereign right to do what He wills, when He wills, and how He wills through us.
Satan has many objectives. The first is to prevent a soul from being saved, or born again. But He knows He cannot do that to God’s elect. I don’t hear the doctrine of election being preached but it is there in the Word, and it is true. Even before we are formed in our mother’s womb, we are known by God and elected to be saved.
Satan’s next objective is to make life fruitless for the saved one. This does not mean fruitless in the matter of reaching souls. People have categorized “fruit” in our lives to mean that we are great soul savers. But in the Word, “fruit” means the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us. Fruit like love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness.....these are listed by God in His Word. We can be great “soul savers” and reach the world and lose all of our rewards simply because we ignored the dealings of God and have no fruit of God’s Holy Spirit shining out of us.
Satan’s third objective (and perhaps the most insidious one) is deception. A little “twisting” of the Truth, a slight compromise of His Word, and that Word is made ineffective in the hearers’ lives. His best strategy is to get the individual to ignore soaking up God’s Word and never learning to pray through. And Satan has done a mighty good job in the hearts and minds of God’s people in this matter.
When God saved me, I wanted more than anything else to obey Him, and to get to know Him personally. How would I do that? At first I thought I would learn a lot by fellowshipping with other believers, and I did. Sometimes I learned but more often than not, the Word of God was ignored.
But I didn’t give up. I longed for that life that is promised to us: a peace that passes understanding; to love an enemy; to pray for someone who had despitefully used me; to give without getting anything in return. But where would I go to find such a life?
The Bible tells us to “go into our closet in secret and pray to our Father in Heaven, and He will answer us openly. The Bible also tells us not to “sound a trumpet before us,” and let people know of our good deeds and our material needs. That was my hope and my prayer, to obey that Word. If God is our Father, is He not able to supply all of our needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus? Of course!
I wanted to know a God who was personal, who knew me and cared about me and who knew my down sitting and my uprising, like the Bible says. I wanted a Father who knew the number of hairs on my head, and best of all, who knew my heart when I did not know it myself!
So I began to seek Him with all of my heart, and in time I most certainly did find Him, just like His Word promises.
I was surprised by the path that He chose for me to walk, but I should not have been. Good soldiers are not made on beds of ease and comfort. God would lead mt into the “deep things” where I could learn of Him. I had wanted to go to Bible College in Chicago where I lived, but God said “No.” But He taught me through His Word, and through books written by those who had walked this path of the Cross: Watchman Nee, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, George Mueller, Francois Fenelon, Madam Guyon, and many others who wrote of His dealings with them, and the reality of His supplying their needs without their letting the world know about them.
He is a God who changes not; and if we want something from Him, it had better be for His glory alone, or we won’t get it from Him. If we do get it, then it is the arch enemy of God--Satan--who gives it to us!
Once I proceeded along the path, the foundation for WINGSPREAD was laid without my even knowing it. That was in 1956. God’s Spirit let me know that I was to begin the work where I was, and with what I had---which, by the way, was absolutely nothing! He called me out from my position to an executive in downtown Chicago, and put me through seven years of intense training in the matters of obedience to the pattern which He laid out for me. It was never to be a work of man, but of God.
This type of calling comes with much suffering and tribulation. How else can we get to know our Father if we are never tried nor tested in the fiery trials that beset human beings? We are not “special people.” In fact, the Bible says that God chooses the foolish things of the world, and the weak things of the world and things that are “not” in order to confound the wise and be messengers of hope to others. So we don’t need to get the big head (as most baby Christians do) when we witness to others and they get saved. He does it all, but He must use the members of His Son’s Body on earth to accomplish His will. By the time God was finished with my first years of training, I had no thought of being “somebody” but rather, I knew that “apart from Him, I was nothing.”
During those seven years, everything happened to me that happens to people whom one day I might reach with His Love. I know that in today’s Christian society that “sickness” is frowned upon, and we are told by TV evangelists that we don’t have to be sick, ever. But we live in a world where sickness is part of the result of the Fall of Adam and Eve. And certainly God does not want us to be sick. But sin has brought sickness to mankind and so when the terrible illnesses came to me, I went to Him and sought His touch. Sometimes He answered immediately. More often He did not. I was to learn many, many lessons and the “putting to death of the self” involves suffering. Sometimes in my pain I would say, “Father, if this illness will glorify You, I embrace it. If it comes from Your enemy and will just keep me down, I refuse it in Jesus’ Name.” That was God’s way of training me. He is a God of holiness and He had rather see His people holy than healed.
After seven long years, God moved me out of that one room basement “apartment” (with no kitchen or bath) and I know now that it was necessary for my spiritual growth and I have never regretted the hardships which I endured for His sake. It was from His hand that I was laid low, ignored, treated with no consideration from day to day. It was His will that I live down there where the floor was damp from condensation and at night the “thousand leggers” (Centipedes) marched across my ceiling once the lights were out; I learned the power of prayer as I covered my head and prayed that none of them lost their traction!
And the noise! The person above me ran the TV on high pitch from early morning till ten at night and the sound traveled down my wall. I never missed a “soap opera” although I hated them, It was a desperate, yet wonderful time for me. All the things I had loved in the world, I was denied in that awful place. Since I could not hint or ask for my needs, I had nothing and I remember stuffing cardboard into my shoes when the soles became paper thin. I had loved beautiful clothes and bought them at will before God enveloped my heart, and when I lost the last vestige of my “old life’s extravagances” I knew that God is who He says He is, and He will not share Himself with us if we are double minded. Actually, that “last vestige of the old life” was a gorgeous fur coat. It was brand new, purchased just before I was born again, and one night I had set it down in its box outside an apartment where I lived, and someone stole it.
The end result of my “calling” was that I looked awful, like “death warmed over,” and I didn’t see how anyone would be attracted to Christ in me but I was not counting on God’s ability to “shine” in us. The truth is, not until I was free from “myself” was God able to reflect His glory from my life. We must get out of the way, and let GOD SHINE.
It didn’t make sense, but faith never does. If it did, it would not be faith. God’s work in a life is not to be judged by the success of a ministry, or the balance in a bank account. It is not even to be judged by the number of souls reached or saved. It is to be judge by LOVE.
The question is, then, do we love? Do we love unconditionally? Do we love without demanding love in return? The answer to this question is usually “No.” So it is only through suffering and long hours and years of trial and perplexity that we even begin to get to know what Love really is.
I certainly had occasion NOT to love. I was ignored. Peopled laughed at me with my broken down old car and tacky clothes. I had come a long way from being the person I was before I was saved and I remember spending everything on myself and feeling pride in the things I had. Now it was all gone and little by little, I began to be glad. Glad that God “clothed me with emptiness.” Unless there is an emptiness, how can He ever fill us with Himself?
Sometimes I think those seven years would not have been so hard had I not been so ill. Once, when I almost died and had no money for a doctor, I received a bouquet of red roses. I recall my Daddy, coming down those basement stairs holding the vase and saying, “There, now----someone loves you.” His eyes were smiling because the few to whom I ministered had remembered me. I had not even let him and Mama know that I was so sick-- instead I prayed continually in my heart for deliverance and God raised me up. During my worst times, even today, I remember that “Father-Picture of God” reminding me that “Someone loves me.”
It was during the last of those seven years in the basement that God gave me the go ahead and He began to supply my needs more openly. But never by my own efforts. I never told a soul about my personal needs and never asked for help for the work. God was the Head and He knew what was best. He raised up some faithful ones who were challenged to follow the Christ in me, and He has kept them throughout the years within this Body of His Son on earth. They are the ones who comprise Wingspread.
“Moving day” finally came to me in that basement room; I was amazed that I felt a sadness at leaving it. I had learned so much there, and had come to know my Father in Heaven in a very special way. But He moved me to a pretty little home in southern Arkansas and then He began a new work in my life. If I thought the training years were finished, I was in for a big surprise.
After I moved down South, I began to feel an unrest within my heart. If we want to grow into the image of God’s dear Son, there is no let up in our training, and now God was ready for me to get to know what the CHURCH actually is, here on earth. I had been reading books by Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian who was put into a Red China Communist Prison camp because he preached Christ openly. Before his incarceration, he had spoken much about the way God teaches us, and that we are left behind on earth to be a “partaker of Christ’s suffering” so that we could be a witness to His Love and ability to save and cleanse.
God’s way with me was through a skin disease, like that of Job in the Old Testament. One day I spontaneously knelt and said to my Father in Heaven, “Father, I don’t know how to be holy, please make me holy.”
The next day my body broke out with a strange rash. Then sores formed, and for nine long months I felt as though I was being eaten alive by stinging insects. There was little relief and no medication helped, but instead it worsened my condition. I seldom slept and could not wear anything but silk because of the pain, so I stayed home most of the time.
During the spiritual battle that God sent to me, I experienced the horrors of the demonic world. There were manifestations (material ones) of demons, and I hated for night to come because that is when the manifestations began.
One night I heard terrible “howling” all around my bedroom. I knew it was demonic because my little Chihuahua did not hear them, she would have reacted. I covered my ears as they got louder and louder and then God reminded me that I was to rebuke those spirits who had come to torment me, and I did. The howling stopped immediately.
On another night, a child’s cries at my door at 2:00 a.m. caused me to wonder if a neighbor child had gotten out of bed and walked in her sleep to my front door. I started to the door and suddenly I realized that this was no child. This was a demonic being saying, “Let me in, let me in.” I refused and bound the spirit and heard it no more.
Before this demonic experience, I had always been a little afraid of the devil and His darkness. But when God’s training in this area was over, I never again feared Satan’s power. I recognize it---it is a horrible power and never to be made fun of---but I had discovered that within us, if we live in fellowship with God’s Holy Spirit, we do not back down to Him. Never make the mistake, though of minimizing His power because to do that is to invite trouble into your spiritual life. Just remember that He is like a roaring lion, going about seeking whom He may devour,” and use the weapons of warfare that are spiritual, not carnal.
One good thing happened during this skin disease. There was an influx of money--lots of money. I refused to use more of the monthly income than was necessary for my personal and daily needs and kept nothing back for myself. So the major part went into radio broadcasts--17 in all. Each day I thanked God for the lovely car which actually started without being pushed; and the nice clothes which I always bought at half price during holiday sales. I was thankful for a refrigerator filled with good food, and an occasional trip back to Illinois to my loved ones in the faith. But more than anything, I was thankful that out of all the afflictions, my God had delivered me.
This was, no doubt, a dangerous time during my spiritual history. When there is enough or more than enough, we tend to become careless and “settle in on beds of ease.” We are tempted to think that we deserve good things---a vacation--good dinners in the best restaurants. But like Francois Fenelon wrote in the Seventeenth Century, “Greedy Self never says, ‘Enough.’” I recognized the dangers of having plenty and my continual prayer was, that God would never permit me to settle down on this side of the Jordan (the world) and never cross over to Canaan (Heavenly Kingdom).
God heard my prayer and answered. He healed me of my skin disease after nine long months, One day the phone rang and a lady’s voice was praying for me in a language I did not understand. Then she said, “God has anointed me for your healing” and we were cut off. I had no idea who she was (perhaps an Angel?) But I decided that I would act as though the healing had been accomplished. I picked up a dish cloth and washed dishes (something that had beforehand caused an immediate new rash) and I began to dust, to do the normal things around the house.
Then one evening, as I walked along the red clay road into the pine forest behind my home, I looked down and every sore was gone----no scars, just tiny brown spots where previously my body had been covered with blisters and sores. I looked down at my knees, and they were no longer swollen bags of creased, blistered skin; and my elbows----I could not believe it!! I had been unable to kneel and pray because of my elbows and knees, and now they were like a child’s skin---pink and healthy and all the swelling was gone. My heart sang! My chastening was over and now I would be more learned in the ways of the Lord with His children.
But I had more lessons to learn. God picked me up, put me back in Illinois and suddenly without any warning at all, removed every bit of security that was mine apart from Himself. My life was shattered. My son disappeared for three years. My purse again was empty. But good soldiers do not forget the lessons they have learned, nor the intense training, and I never forgot mine! I prayed through.
Once I remember being unable to sleep for perplexity of mind and then I looked out of the window where I saw a single star. It was the same star which I had seen all of my life, and I heard a voice (not audible, but within my mind) say, “The stars are still in place.”
Of course they were still in place, kept there by my Father who holds the whole wide world in His hands. And I slept peacefully.
It was a gentle rebuke from my Heavenly Father. He was big enough to hold the stars in place. Was He not big enough to keep me in His hand and lead me deeper into His Truths? Again and again, over the years, I remember that word, “The stars are still in place.” When we suffer want, when bills are overdue, when things and people we love die, when everything around us is breaking apart morally . . . “The stars are still in place.”
Finally, after four more years, God led us to this mountain. I lived on a beautiful little mountain in southern California. We leased a gorgeous home that had been built by a Western movie star. The monthly payment was incredibly low. The place was in disrepair, but God gave it to me, and I set about to clean it up. Charles Manson had been there with his “family.” We hauled off about seventeen truckloads of trash and in time the yard and the 26 acres began to “bloom” again. Things bloom when they are loved (even people!!).
It was during this time (in California) that I realized the horrible hold that drugs had on the youth as well as older people. So, I learned to pray through and every day I would climb to the top of the mountain and spread my arms out toward the entire Los Angeles basin, and bind the evil spirits that prevented a revival in that area. There was no Christian broadcasting, only two or three messages a week on Sundays. I asked God to send the Word there. I had been robbed three times and how we needed a witness in that land!
When it was time to go, He game me a dream. I was in a home with tall trees all around it. A little gravel road led up to the house and it was very, very dark. I was looking for the deed to the home and used a flashlight. Suddenly I heard a noise and I looked out and saw auto headlights. Someone was coming and I felt I was an intruder! Then I heard a voice . . . “Don’t leave. You HAVE THE RIGHT TO THIS PROPERTY!”
The dream ended. That was in November, 1969. In January, 1970 the owner of the place in California informed us that we would have to leave, he could not renew the lease as he intended to sell. WHAT TO DO? I went to the top of the mountain, thanked God for this beautiful place, and GAVE it back to Him, asking Him to bless anyone who would live there in the future. Then I began to look at those farm catalogs since I knew we would need some space if all twelve of us moved.
Also, we began to pack. I felt so sure of my Father’s leading that I just went ahead and packed and got ready for the move!! When little worry thoughts presented themselves I would hear, “The stars are still in place.” And I would pack some more. In January we had about five hundred dollars saved up. How could we ever move on five hundred dollars? So I prayed and suddenly we had ten thousand dollars. Each of us had asked our loved ones for help for the move. My own parents had kept track of what I had given them some years before when they needed help and they gave it back to me. Some parents refused, but no matter. We had enough, we believed to make the trip out to look for property.
After checking out the catalogs, it seemed that only in Arkansas was property cheap enough to meet our pocketbook. So I came to Northwest Arkansas. I was not brave. Ten thousand dollars is not much when you are considering the down payment on property, the move, the moving charges, etc., etc. I was so scared, in fact, that I got very sick on the way had to make a quick trip to the emergency to get a shot for nausea! But God kept me strong enough to look for a place for His “little flock.” And just when I was thinking I had made one big mistake He showed me a little brochure at the real estate agency’s office. It read, $15,800 and I could see was a part of a chimney. But the price meant that we could maybe buy it.
Within twenty four hours, the place was our’s. Or God’s! And within one month we had moved in. I really did not realize that this very place was the home I saw in my dream the previous November. Not until late one night when I looked out back through the bathroom window. It was very dark, but the “tall trees” were visible all around the home. I looked out front, and there was the red gravel driveway. This was the very place that my Father God had shown me, and declared it to be mine! Isn’t He wonderful?
Again, there were lessons to learn. By the time the down payment was made, and the moving charges were paid, and all the things that are involved in settling in were taken care of, we were broke. I remember having $27 in the checking account (it is a corporate account and that is all we had) and I bought a pound of bacon and a loaf of bread and yet I thanked God for the bread and bacon. It didn’t matter. He had a plan and a purpose in bringing me here and in March, 1986, He revealed it to me. I was reading the Bible and I came to the part where Jesus says, “I was in prison and you came to me.”
When God speaks to me for an anointing, there is always a “capsule of space” which encloses me and I hear no sound, except the sound of His voice. He said to me, “Take your Bible and minister to the prisoners.” That’s all. Just my Bible. A few months before this happened I had been completely healed of a life long affliction which could have made me an invalid, just from the pain, but I refused it. Now I was ready!!! He gave me the healing for the work.
So I obeyed. I was to visit when I could, but most important, I was to publish a monthly newsletter and message and entitle in “WINGSPREAD.” We were to share His love as best we could. When He gives, we share. When He speaks, I pass it on to you. But most important of all, I intercede for you. In January, 1965, God called me to be an intercessor. I read the words, “Lord, don’t let me die until I have shown They strength to this generation.” I wrote alongside that word, “I am called to THIS generation.”
Most of you in prison ARE that generation. I believe that even then, before some of you were born, He sent me to you, and asked me to pray you through to His Kingdom.
He is a strong God. He will not permit disobedience if we truly want to obey. He never violates our free will. He lets us go and if we want to come back, He receives us with joy and forgiveness. He was there, if you are His elect child, when you began using the drug, or took your first drink. And He was there when you committed the crime that led you into prison where you are today. But He never forgot you nor gave up on you. He loves you. He brought me through all those years of discipline that I might be one of His intercessors for each of you in prison. God must have intercessors. He will not work on earth except through His Church.
When we intercede, we suffer. We must get to know the hurts, the fears, the sorrows, the horrors of what sin really is. And we must “endure them all for the elect’s sake.” I never really knew the depths of sin until this anointing came upon me. And I have come to thank God for the fact that He has never permitted me to settle down and enjoy life apart from Him! It hurts, this anointing. But His love makes it worthwhile. “And the burden is light.” Those who chose to stay have literally given ALL that you might know His love.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you would take these words, and truly commit your life to Him? Doesn’t He deserve it? Make Him your sovereign Lord today. You will never, never forget it. And God bless.
NEWS NOTES; I’ve been telling most of the news in my letters to you all. We don’t go anywhere and so there isn’t a lot to talk about, except all the wonderful things God does in our lives. We are having studies on the Book of Peter. He was the impetuous one and he had to learn through the awful lesson of denial of Christ that he could never be a “big shot.” There is no room for that kind of “importance” in God’s mind and He tells us in His Word, “the first in this world shall be last in the kingdom and the least shall be the greatest.” I suspect there will be lots of surprises in Heaven. Rewards here for what we do nullifies rewards THERE if we talk about it and “sound a trumpet before us.” And a lot of THAT sort of thing is going on.
TILLIE: We took our Tillie to the vet yesterday and had her fixed so she would not be having anymore puppies. I believe if she knew what was happening, she would be relieved. Having ELEVEN puppies once is enough! She is very proud of the five we have left, and gets to run with them once a day; but she is thankful for her own quarters, they are so wild, they can wear you out. We have a tiny water pool in the yard for them and by the time I come back upstairs, I am soaking wet. I can see that as a “grandmother” I might be tempted to spoil a child but on the other hand, later on they will have to be taught to “mind.” Right now they are only babies, four months old and so beautiful. I went down last night to sit with Tillie in her house and comfort her about her “operation.” I put more shredded paper for her bad and held her in my arms and told her that I loved her. Love heals.
This is all the news right now; we’ll enclose a prayer request list next month. And don’t forget to pray for the seven of us here.
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