The Fear of the Lord
By Billie Marie Zal
We must be afraid in order to survive. And it is when we begin to blot out the possibility that “bad things” can happen to us that we begin to create fantasies about ourselves.
We ignore the probability that during our lifetime we will suffer, either from physical ailments, or loss of income, or loss of loved ones. And we draw a circle of vacuum around ourselves, and live in that vacuum without a thought of reality.
The truth is, bad things do happen, and they happen to all of us. The person who is never touched by infirmity has no compassion as rule (though some rare souls are the exception) for someone who is bedridden and helpless. Nursing homes are filled with nurses who have never suffered; they work for a pay check and if a patient becomes a burden, they ignore them.
Children who are never disciplined are incorrigible by the time they are in their pre-teens. Parents who refuse to “make their children mad at them” have no authority, nor will they ever have in that child’s life.
So what is the answer to the obvious mess society has found itself experiencing daily?
It is a healthy fear of the Lord, for the Bible tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Scholars, of course, in our day where “self” must be instantly gratified, try to water down that Word from God. They tell us it just means we must have “reverence” for God. But how can we revere that which we do not understand?
And how can we understand that which we do not know? So, the trouble we are having in our day is based upon an ignorance of who God really is. He has become just another “little god” who, upon demand, sends us whatever we ask, because “His Word says that He will.”
Soon after I was born again, God’s providence arranged for me to work at Scripture Press, in downtown Chicago. This press issued Sunday School lessons for many of the churches in the United States, and they were good study lessons.
I had read the Bible through many times, but not until I began to work for the man who edited the lessons did I realize that God is awesome; He is not One to ignore, or take for granted. He is all powerful, all MIGHTY and He will not put up with our foolishness simply because He is God.
Most of the lessons were based on the first five books of the Old Testament. I had never understood
them, but now that I was indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, who inspired the words of the Bible, I began to receive light. And it scared me. After I was saved, I wanted to be free from the power of sin. I didn’t see any reason why - if God lives within us - we should go on deliberately sinning.
When I brought this up to my peers they smiled and waved me away with, “My dear, you have ALREADY been forgiven of all your sins, past, present and future. Just accept this wonderful fact and don’t worry about sinning. It is all paid for.”
Being realistic, I thought what a tacky way to approach sin and its consequences just because Jesus paid for them. After all, I reasoned, now I owed Him my life, and what kind of a person would I become if I took advantage of my salvation and just kept on living with known sin in my life? The Bible says it clearly, “Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid.”
At least I got on the right road. I searched diligently for victory and release. I hated the so called secret sins that still had roots in my heart and I determined, if I could not get full victory and live as Christ commands us to live, then I might as well never have been saved at all. What good would I be to God or to anyone else?
I realize now that God’s grace (unmerited favor) was working in my life and that is WHY I kept searching. And He says, “If you seek for me with all your heart, you shall surely find me.” So I kept seeking.
Praise God, as I typed up those Sunday School lessons, I began to see that we are dealing with Someone who will never put up with sin in our lives. He hates sin. Why not? It was the thing that ruined creation and caused Him, as the First Person of the Trinity, to have to turn His face away from His only begotten Son, who, because He took sin into His body when He drank the cup, could not even look upon Him. And it has been said by one writer that the world became so dark, it was as though God hung crepe paper across the sun.
Now, after all this, we must begin to see that even though we are born again, and God sees His Son within us, He also sees the filth that remains in our lives and which must be dealt with if we are to enjoy heaven in all its fullness of joy.
True, we won’t have much “fun” down here, but just wait until we get there. Jesus Christ has prepared a place for us, and I will never believe that that place will be ready for believers who have spent their entire lives on beds of ease, refusing correction, and living only for the next toys they buy for themselves.
I drive to McAlester once a week, and the highways are wall to wall at times with “retirees” in their RV’s, lumbering along, the driver and his wife checking on the next “fun place” to stop. It is a sad day when elderly people have nothing to think about but fun filled vacations, and wander the earth seeking others of like minds.
God understands youth, and He would not impose restrictions upon them, because they have not yet been sifted and tested by His chastening. But the elderly? He will bring to task those who spend their days with never a thought of others.
In the book of Numbers, Chapter 16, we read of a rebellion led by Kohath and 250 princes of Israel
against Moses. They were angry because he had what they thought “put himself up above them.” Moses is
called the meekest man in the world by God, and he went to God for answer to their accusations.
Well, God gave him the answer. And the end result was that God Himself caused the earth to open up and Kohath and “all that pertained to him” were swallowed up alive unto Sheol.
Kohath’s family had been with him in his rebellion against God’s order, and instead of being translated alive into heaven, as Enoch was, they were translated alive into Sheol (the pit or grave).
And then the earth came back together and the people were afraid. I would have been scared to death. But Kohath’s family had chosen to rebel against God Almighty. They could have taken their stand and left the family. But they didn’t. God had the last word and He will always have the last word.
People today - even Christians - say, “Well, I can’t worship a God who does such things. I can’t worship someone I fear.”
Yes, you can. The trouble is, you don’t recognize Him for who He is. You think of yourself like the lady I knew who said, “I am God’s pet.” I told her, no she wasn’t, God doesn’t have any pets. And of course she never liked me again.
You must take time to get to know God. And a good place is in a prison cell. You have all the time in the world. I, too, have time, and if I don’t, I make time. I turn off the TV, and refuse to let anything distract me. And God speaks to me.
I am amused when I watch the Discovery channel and the scientist tells me that everything “evolved.” He was trying to explain how a bird was once a dinosaur; it would be harder for me to believe THAT, than just to accept that there is a God who is the Creator of all things - all life, all the heavens, all the millions of galaxies. Why not believe it? Who but God could do such things?
So, we have lost our fear of God because we don’t know Him. The Church has made Him into what Dr. Tozer calls a “cosmic errand boy” and God help those believers who think otherwise. I am repulsed in my spirit when a man says that we are “entitled” to anything we ask for, because we are “the King’s kids.”
Well, we might be, but the King has not yet set up His kingdom on earth, and that is the problem. These people have not “rightly divided the Word of God” and they suffer delusions. If all we need God for is to keep us healthy, to give us food, and to fill our purses, then we make Him into an image like the Israelites of old, and never know who He is. He will leave us, and the sad thing is that we are not even aware that His Holy Spirit has departed.
I am so thankful that my entire life has been one long lesson in overcoming the afflictions that are directly sent to me by God. Of course satan hates me, and wishes me ill, why not? I hate him, too. But nothing that has ever touched me has come to me without God’s permission. He has the right to do what He pleases with His own. And I am His own.
I have found Him in the deepest pit into which He has sent me. I have seen Him in the sorrow of loss, in the joy of a sunset, in the storm when He lights the skies with His eyes, and speaks with the voices of thunder. I
have found him in a prison cell, in the heart of one who determined to give what is left of his life to the God who bought and paid for it with the blood of His Own Son.
I have seen Him in the face of a friend who, without question, sacrifices all that she or he has, for the love of a God who is holy, righteous, and the only God who ever existed. I have seen Him when I sat at the funeral services of my parents, knowing that the very next glimpse I will have of them will be in heaven and there will be no more goodbyes.
I have seen Him in lives that are not yet surrendered to His will, but who are seeking to know the Way. I have seen Him on this mountain, and I know that when He formed it He had us in mind.
I will not tamper with His grace. I will not disobey His commands. If He says, “Love those who hate you, bless them who curse you, pray for them who despitefully use you. . .” then I will do just that, no matter the cost. And there is a cost - a very great cost - the self within.
You see, we never grow into the likeness of His dear Son if we are forever escaping the afflictions and sorrows that He endured for our sake, while He walked this earth as man.
I heard a preacher say that God, being complete within Himself, and being Goodness itself, and Love itself, how could he suffer? But He did. He said that He did not understand that, but he loved God for it.
Well, I smiled when he said these words. For I do understand how God, being perfect, could suffer. He can suffer because, His Son being part of Himself, took on our sins, and our afflictions, and was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
For God never understood HOW IT FELT TO SIN. How could He? There is no sin where He is, in heaven. There is no rebellion, once satan left to become the “prince of the power of the air.” There is no questioning of His will. He thinks it, and it is done.
But when Jesus Christ became incarnate in man, He observed what sin had done. He saw the suffering, the agony it produces. But not until He drank that cup in the garden did He actually know how it feels to be contaminated with the sins of mankind.
It was in a garden that Adam sinned and thus was cast out lest he eat of the fruit of the tree of eternal life. And it was in a garden that the Second Adam took unto Himself every sin that we can commit, and paid in full for it in His Body on the tree. That’s how God knows what suffering is; to momentarily forsake His own Son, a part of Himself, caused suffering beyond imagination.
So, unless you have sinned mightily you will go through life taking God for granted, taking this thing called LIFE as something you have coming to you. You will never stoop to tend the wounds of a stranger, or take him in. You will never give to someone in need. You will be self contained, a little capsule of life in space, and you will never know God.
But if you have sinned mightily - and most of you have - then you will KNOW how others feel, and the agony of the results of terrible sin. You will stoop to touch the brow of one who feels forsaken, you will reach
out to give, even if it costs you everything, and you will love those who hate you, who curse you, who have used you simply because that’s what you did to God, and yet He calls you to Himself.
May our God give you that revelation which will bring you to your knees and to repentance, and a brand new life.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We have had the strangest spring that I have ever lived through. In March it was 75 and 80 degrees. Everything bloomed and all the trees leafed out. My sister Anita and her husband Tom came for a visit and I’m so glad they came during the time everything was so beautiful and it was so good to see them. Then we had 2 or 3 nights in the low twenties and teens and the leaves froze on the trees. Some days I feel like its fall and we had a very short summer. The trees are not a pretty sight.
But our bushes will come back after some pruning and we will plant flowers as usual. It’s just not the same somehow. I’m not sure what God is trying to tell us, but I know He is speaking and no one hears, or wants to.
We have a new kitty. She came out of the forest one day, very skinny, but so cute. We call her “Precious” and she’s hungry all the time. She sits on a stump and looks for Shirley and me to feed her. The “boys,” Clyde, Bruno and Harry, have accepted her so I know she must be a girl. Today she’s at the Vet being neutered (we don’t need any kittens). The boys are as usual testing each other, to see how much trespassing on the other ones yard they can get away with, without having to dirty themselves in an all out battle.
Jay is working new hours - 6PM to 6AM, three to four nights a week, then the rest of the week off. It seems to be working out well. He is also on a diet and runs two miles on the treadmill at least every other day.
Pray for Gail. Her eye sight has always been poor. She never complains and has done well, but she now needs to see a specialist in May. We pray he may be able to help her, to at least keep the sight she now has.
I think the rest of us are well, except for allergies to pollen and the usual aches and pains. Eddie talks about retiring but so far he is at work every day.
I always miss Billie the most in the spring. She took delight in finding the spring flowers in the forest, planting new flowers, and checking out the arrival of the migrating birds. I found an old newsletter where she mentioned the names of every prisoner she wrote to. She knew them all. She cared about so many of you - prisoners and friends in the community - and today I know she would be disappointed to see what some people have done with their lives.
- Dr. Gene Scott
“He was better to me than all my hopes.
Better than all my fears.
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.
Oh, tender and true was the Chastening sore,
In wisdom that taught and tried.
Till the soul that He sought was trusting in Him,
And nothing on earth beside.”
Our "Precious Kitty"
Prayer Requests for May, 2007:
For our neighbor Cheryl’s nephew, John Tuttle, who was injured by a bomb in Iraq.
For Don Price’s son, Don Jr. of Cotter, Arkansas, (who recently had a kidney removed) to stay “cancer free.”
For Jim Holbrook of Lansing Kansas to be transferred to Johnson County Residential Center soon.
For Willie Clark, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who is having prostate surgery. Tests show that the cancer is confined to the prostate. Pray that Willie gets treated soon.
For Anthony Grayson, Fallsburg, New York, for a Christian wife.
For Robert Heffernan at Brickeys, Arkansas, who has diabetes, that he’ll be able to walk on his own soon; and that he’ll receive clemency from the Governor.
For Jim Holbrook at Lansing, Kansas, that he gets transferred to the Johnson County Residential Center soon.
For Dennis Martin, Lexington, Oklahoma, for healing of his foot.
For Willie Clark, Abilene, Texas, that he will transferred closer to Houston.
For Rudy Sisneros’ Niece who is moving to New York City. Rudy is at Buena Vista, Colorado.
For Melodi Sorge’s Son, Buddy, who has cerebral palsy. Melodi is at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
For Ken Hogan, McAlester, Oklahoma, who is having numbness in his thigh.
For Henry Buckaloo at Granite, Oklahoma, for his foot. He has a piece of glass in his foot and so far no one has wanted to operate.
For Pastor Scott in Los Angeles, California, who continues to play the teachings of Dr. Gene Scott, the only other person, besides Billie, who ever taught the truth.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Karen Griffin, Clinton, Oklahoma, who is still battling cancer.
For all of us at Wingspread, especially Gail, that her eyes can be treated; and for Margaret, that the pressure in her eyes will stay down.
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