Just One More Prophet
By Billie Marie Zal
We live at a frantic pace and sometimes I wonder if God’s will for us were laid out in black and white, would we really believe it? Would our hearts bear witness to the truth and would we obey without question? I think not. What we need is a prophet and so far we haven’t found one!
The other day Margaret called me about something and as we spoke my Bible, which is on the table beside my bed, inadvertently fell open as I shoved a note pad aside.
Sometimes God has a special Word for me when this happens, though I do not make a practice of getting “magical” Scriptures by flipping open the Bible and looking for a verse that suits me. Anyhow, on this particular day my eyes were directed to three verses from Second Chronicles, verses 5, 7, and 9. They contained a little story about a prophet named Hanani.
Now here was a man who loved God more than anything or anyone else in the world. And when a person loved God like that, God makes him a prophet, or a “revealer of truth.”
Today Hanani would be called a nosey old man. In those days, however, he was a light in the darkness. The King of Judah, Asa, had just bought himself out of a bad situation. Terrified because of news that the King of Israel had built the city of Ramah to blockade Asa’s position, he relied on the help of man rather than the Lord God.
What he did was send silver and gold out of the treasure house of God to pay Ben-Hadad, King of Syria, to run the King of Israel out of the territory. The Syrian King agreed and succeeded in his mission. But he did this at the awful cost of Judah’ relationship with God as Sovereign Ruler over the Kingdom of Judah. By hiring an enemy of God to serve his own purposes, He lost favor with God. You never pay off God’s enemies with His treasures and get away with it.
God does not leave His chosen ones to wander about in their feelings of self security for long. He uses prophets. And so, here came Hanani the prophet and this is what he said: “You have relied on the King of Syria to get you out of trouble. Therefore, in time, you will come to see that this king will give you much trouble and escape out of your hand. Don’t you remember when the Ethiopians and Lubims came against you with so many chariots and
horsemen? They were strong, but God delivered them into your hand. You have done a foolish thing; therefore, you will have wars.”
Then the prophet ended his utterance with a Word that is one of my very favorites: He said, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.”
Speaking the truth is hazardous and Hanani was immediately imprisoned for his solemn declaration to King Asa. Had Asa’s heart been tender toward God he would have welcomed the rebuke and God could have blessed not only him but the entire Kingdom. For a prophet’s word should answer the need of our hearts - that need being for someone to love God enough to tell us the truth, no matter what the cost.
From the very beginning of my spiritual history with God I desired above all else to speak the truth of love. I knew it might bring isolation and loss, but I prayed for this gift anyhow. And God took me at my word. Not long after the prayer I was teaching a Bible study with some women from the small church I attended. They had elected me “Spiritual Life Chairperson” because nobody else wanted the responsibility. So I was thankful to be in a position where I could speak honestly with my friends.
One day the subject of holding dances in the church basement came up. Real dances, not square dancing, etc. I had no idea of what my words would do but I learned in a hurry! I just stated that since we had a building where God’s Holy Spirit would visit and enlighten us, I didn’t believe that dances fit into the program of His Spirit. I really dropped a bomb.
No one said anything and the issue was closed. But within a few days I went to a PTA meeting where most of my church friends usually sat with me, and I noticed that no one was there yet whom I knew well. I sat down and waited. In a few minutes all my friends came in, but they sat as far away from me as they could.
Did this hurt me? Of course it did, but these ladies had the right to their own opinion and the dances went on as scheduled ( I wasn’t invited). I remembered then, that Jesus Christ had not promised any of us that we would win a popularity contest and from there on I walked a lonely path.
Another need that a prophet might answer is our need to KNOW that God loves us. Our Christian world today is sadly in need of one who can make love real. We are in need of one who lives the Beatitudes - who loves those who hate him, prays for those who despitefully use
him, blesses those who curse him, lets his goods go without complaint or self pity. We don’t see much of that today in any man. Such a one has Christ’s disposition.
Should God’s prophet come on the scene today he would stand before those who know nothing of God’s love and remind them that abortion is murder, sex changes are a violation of God’s desire to make a person a man or a woman, marriage is a life time commitment, not only to one another but to the God before whom we make our vows. God’s prophet would not make snide remarks about the homosexual or the adulterer or the child abuser. He would be so filled with the power of God’s Spirit that his words would bring in conviction and repentance, and for the first time we would know that God loves us enough to tell us the truth and offer us a remedy for our sins: JESUS CHRIST.
A prophet of God in today’s society would probably be killed or imprisoned, as the prophets were before him. But the Word of God would be real and those who are seeking truth will find it. For we need to listen. We need to seek God with all our hearts and then He sends the answer.
I am reminded of the young pastor who spoke the truth to me when I was complaining about my child being sick all the time. I asked him why, and he replied, “For the glory of God.” Suddenly I felt shabby and completely unworthy of the love God had given me. I repented and stopped complaining and God worked a mighty miracle when I had left my child to Him.
A prophet today might lead us to love God so much that we would refuse to go along with the crowd when the crowd is wrong, or love God enough to be faithful to His Word and to not hide our works done in darkness, but to let them be exposed so that they might be dealt with and left behind. He might lead us to face what we are, and not try to become what we are not. And he would most certainly challenge us to turn our backs upon the world even before the world turns it’s back upon us.
We need a prophet today like Nathan, who was King David’s prophet. When anyone is a leader he needs a prophet who has spiritual insight and courage enough to speak that wisdom no matter how it hurts.
Maybe one reason that King David was so beloved of God was because no matter that he sinned, when God sent Nathan to him he listened and repented. For example, David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. When she became pregnant David
sinned a greater sin by putting Uriah at the front of the battle so that he would be killed. Now David added murder to his sin of adultery.
But once David got his way he could not rest easy. Nathan the prophet would see to that. He spoke in a parable, but by the time he had finished his story King David knew that he was the guilty party, and by exposing this sin Nathan made the way for David to repent and be delivered.
We probably don’t want prophets today like Nathan because they are labeled as “obnoxious.” We have preachers who rant and rave about sin, but sometimes I wonder if they would ever go down into the depths of the sin with those who so desperately need deliverance and lift them up into the arms of Jesus?
Did you ever have someone around you who was like a thorn in your flesh and they never let up on you? If they did not openly speak the word about your sin, their lives made you uneasy in their presence and you knew that the day would come when you either admitted the sin, or you would no longer experience that fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This “scrutiny of our lives” is a real weapon of warfare so rejoice! Listen to the prophet (the thorn in your flesh) and get the victory!
King David got the victory. He did not hide his head in a barrel and keep on sinning. That’s why we don’t want to hear that what we are doing is an affront to God. We really don’t want to give it up, whatever “it” is. But King David did repent, and since he lived under the Law there was a terrible consequence. The future Kingdom would suffer judgment because of David’s great sin.
I often wonder, what if there had been no Nathan? Then there may never have been a Kingdom (without David’s repentance) and Jesus Christ could not have been born out of that Kingdom.
How much we need to pray for such a prophet as Nathan who will not be afraid to speak the truth, nor be intimidated by power and prestige, wealth and “success.” We need to hear that our lives are all wrong and God is able to make them right again. May God give us such a prophet. There’s not much time left.
From the November, 1993 Wingspread
We would like for everyone to be aware that our friend, Frank Williams, Jr. at the Maximum Security Unit at Grady, Arkansas, is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, September 9th. The Parole Board in Arkansas did recommend clemency for Frank, but Governor Beebe refused to sign off and set the execution date. Frank has exhausted virtually all of his appeals and so there isn’t much legally that can be done.
We have known Frank for over fifteen years. He is repentant (not in denial, like some) and genuinely sorry for what has happened. His attitude all these years has been positive, and even though he consistently fought his case in the courts, all along he has said that he is ready to accept whatever happens. He literally placed himself in God’s hands and has told us that he will be fine. Barring a legal miracle it looks like Frank is headed for a better place, and everyone should pray for his faith to be strengthened even further, and for his peace of mind. Pray also for his Mother. It is hard to imagine what she is going through.
This morning Margaret and I read the following and thought about the Apostle Paul’s condition in prison. He wrote this from a prison in Rome, from a hole under the streets, dark, dank, and no doubt infested with rats, among other things:
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another,
if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ
forgave you, so also do ye.”
Margaret looked up some other translations of this verse, just to make it more clear to us. Here is one that makes it clearer:
“You must bear one another’s FAULTS, be generous
to each other - just as the Lord has freely given you,
so must you also do.”
26 Translations of the Bible - Vol. III
We have been very grieved by the increase of violence lately in the prisons, especially in Oklahoma it seems. Why is there such hate? Well, for one thing the devil knows that his time of freedom is short and he has no trouble finding people to do his dirty work. And who are you really hurting? Violence brings lockdown, less privileges, more rules and security, punishment, and loss of good time. And it also makes it harder for us to minister as we become more under scrutiny and are subject to security checks.
Another thing we’ve seen lately is some racism and a refusal by some of you to reject the gang life. Usually the two go hand in hand and are the cause of 90 percent of the problems in prison. Everyone knows that you can’t be a gang member or racist and still live a Christian life, yet a few of you refuse to let go. God condemns this type of behavior and we, personally, won’t tolerate it.
The Apostle Paul is our hero, and he should be an example to those of you in prison. You should look to his letters for encouragement and strength to go on.
He wrote the epistle to the Philippians from a cell in Rome. He was Nero’s prisoner, yet the epistle is full of triumphant words like “joy,” and “rejoice.” Read the entire book and underline those two words each time you see them. How could he write like that knowing that he was soon to be beheaded? In chapter 1 he writes, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This is the Christian born again experience in ACTION. The same God that enabled Paul to live such a life is still able to empower us all to such a life.
Rodney & Margaret
Labor Day Weekend, 2008 Bottom - left to right: Our neighbor, Colleen, Ed, Shirley, Gail (and Coco) Top: Jay, Margaret, Rodney, Brian
Prayer Requests for September, 2008:
For Frank Williams, Jr., on death row at Grady, Arkansas, who has a scheduled execution set for September 9th.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Galesburg, Illinois, that his lung cancer will stay in remission.
For our friend, Ed Ewing in Dinuba, California, who is 87 years old.
For Doyle Sanders’ Uncle, Marlin Sanders, who’s cancer has moved to his voice box; and for Doyle’s Son, Maverick, who is under foster home care and living in a shelter in Abilene, Texas.
For Robert Ross & his family. Robert is preparing legal appeals and an application for commutation. He is at Helena, Oklahoma.
For Marlin Resinger at Stringtown, Oklahoma, that he’ll be transferred soon.
For Chris Harley, who’s in the Yuma County jail in Arizona facing the death penalty.
For Robert Heffernan at Grady, Arkansas, for his health, and that he’ll be able to walk on his own soon.
For Anthony Grayson, Fallsburg, New York, who is working on his appeal.
For Rodney Witt at Lexington, Oklahoma, who has stage III colon cancer.
For Stephano Jackson at McAlester, Oklahoma, who’s Mother just passed away.
For Willie Clark’s son, Mitchell, who is about to experience prison for the first time. Willie is at Iowa Park, Texas.
For Pastor David Stacy in Wake Forest, North Carolina, who is starting a new prison ministry.
For Bart Martin’s Mother, Charlene Martin, who is in ill health. Bart is at the Hutchins Unit at Dallas, Texas.
For Willie Harper at Joliet, Illinois, who has stomach cancer and will undergo surgery sometime this month.
For Joseph’s Runge’s Mother who has bladder cancer. Also she was recently hospitalized with back problems. Joseph is at Centralia, Illinois.
For Cleveland Cook’s friend, Josh Vander Kamp, who just relapsed and is trying to find his way back, and wishes to stay clean.
For Katy Carnahan, Alicia, Arkansas, who is about to undergo two surgeries. Thank God for healing her husband, Curtis of cancer.
For Clay Huff at Angola, Louisiana, who recently had two surgeries to remove growths in his ear.
For Willie Grady at Menard, Illinois. Willie also asks us to pray for three of his friends: Bernice Zimmerman, Gridley, Illinois; Christine, that God will send someone to help her with her correspondence school; and Ken, who is 84 years old, that he will be get off oxygen and be able to use his walker again.
For Ted Ricks at Cushing, Oklahoma, that he’ll be allowed to keep his job in the maintenance department there.
For Pastor Scott and her ministry in Los Angeles.
For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, that his diabetes will stay under control and that he continues to remain “cancer free.”
For Sister Ann & the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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