Every force of the enemy of God fails unless it can find an ally in what I look at in the mirror every morning. The enemy’s goal? Think about yourself—what you want, what you deserve. Resent those who keep you from your goals; envy those who appear to have achieved.
Nothing wraps up the difference between Heaven and Hell more than the statement: “Others-centered vs. Self-centered.” From birth (who, beside himself, is a baby interested in helping?) through every stage of our adulthood, the very nature of mankind is to be self-centered. Some celebrate it. Look at the quote below from a famous anthropologist and author:
“I am done with the monster of ‘We,’ the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the free face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.’” —Ayn Rand
Even in her blatant elevation of “I,” she only contrasts it with “we.” Perhaps this elevation of “I” best describes the failure of Adam and Eve and that straight up-and-down letter forms the bars of the jail from which we cannot escape. We can only be rescued. One philosopher claimed that all things men do are for selfishness, even the desire to be righteous—so we can go to Heaven. This is hard to refute until we have been rescued from our jail and can see life through the grace-filled eyes of Jesus.
Those who insist that “man is inherently good” readily adopt the philosophy of “enlightened self-interest” as a defense against the observable realities of man left to himself. The fact is, we can’t write laws fast enough to control ourselves, or build prisons fast enough, or hire policemen soon enough.
So how do we get rescued? Jesus invites us with a clue: If any man will come after me… If we decide to do so, what is next? Let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) Here, we come to grips with our problem—self—and, recognizing our constant guilt worthy of punishment (our cross), follow the only one who has the keys to our jail.
A thousand books on philosophy and psychology cannot arrive at that single simple, redeeming, freeing statement. Enough said.
A team of Christians made their way to Cuba recently carrying Bibles, a Bible study book and a case of The Jesus Style in Spanish. Officials at customs in Cuba permitted the Bible to go through but confiscated The Jesus Style and the Bible study book. The forms indicating their destination and contact numbers were finished and they continued on to meet their Cuban church friends.
When they arrived, the leader of the travelers apologized to the Cuban friends that they were unable to bring them the other books. The Cubans said, “Say no more. We will take care of it.” Immediately the church began to pray. The next day, they received a call from the customs agents telling them to come and pick up the books. The American leader said they would try to get back in two or three days, but the customs agent said, “Do it NOW.”
When they returned to customs, the agents quickly returned the books as if in a panic to get them out of their possession. The believers rejoiced. There is a power stronger than dictators.
The teacher caught the student with a copy, grabbed him and the book and scurried him to the principal’s office at a Christian school. They called the boy’s father and told him to come and pick up his son who had been suspended for the rest of the week and never let him bring that book back to the school.
The father arrived at the scene and asked the principal what the problem was with The Jesus Style book. He countered, “The author of this book claims that Jesus was a servant!” (makes you wonder what version of the Bible they read)
The father brought his son home and called our office to tell us what happened. Then he ordered an additional 25 copies of The Jesus Style. Aha!
A number of pastors have informed me that they resolve to read The Jesus Style at least once every year because of how it restores their understanding and action.
I was blessed with your message in Bandon, OR at the Trail Christian Fellowship men’s retreat in November. Much of what you said triggered a rethinking of how God influences my walk.
I have been reading your book, The Jesus Style, and as a long time Lutheran, I find myself rereading many of the paragraphs on liturgy and formal worship.
When Colleen and I moved to Oregon for retirement we could not find a Lutheran church close by, so we started attending Trail Fellowship. We were very impressed with the excellent teaching and sincere worship. But I really struggled with the “sound stage” in place of an altar and kneeling rail.
You have been a tremendous help in my acceptance that man-made things have little to do with living in Jesus.
Yes, please e-mail your future issues! We have been greatly blessed whenever/however you communicate. Our 19- and 16-year-old sons love to listen to you, Gayle. They have “wild and crazy” senses of humor, and they appreciate others who also have this “gift.” Our prayer is that they can learn to have their humor under God’s control and use it for His glory. Thanks for being a great model.
Gary and Maggie Carlton
I thank God for your wonderful ministry. I have only met you in person one time and you made my day a lot brighter. God is so good. I hope you come back here. I attend Pocatello Baptist Church and it is coming along so good. I love all of your books and received one of your books for my birthday.
Thanks for the introduction to your e-mail newsletter. I was receiving your newsletter in the mail and thought I’d like to have some of my friends and family read it, but I just didn’t get around to signing them up to receive it. Then I requested to receive the newsletter by e-mail. I just forwarded it to about eight people that would really enjoy it. Thanks!
Through the years we have been blessed with the services of some highly skilled people whose names stay on the sidelines but whose effects are front and center.
Dempster Evans, premier Christian graphics designer, has been a close co-worker for about 35 years. In our past efforts together we have won national awards for magazine work including best in the nation among Christian magazines (brag, brag).
He continues to be the main designer for Servant Quarters materials and we gladly thank him publicly for his work.
Years ago at an Indiana Pastors Conference, Mike sketched the face that has become our logo. Mike is multiskilled both as graphics artist and musician. Many of his CDs circulate among Christians. They are unique. He also designed the covers of both of my story books. He continues as a good friend and co-worker although he insists on living in Indiana. (That’s a joke, friends. My roots are Indiana.)
When Rob was in Germany, he added the body (bodified it) to my face, done by Mike Reese, and the full body became the caricature that accompanies most of our materials. I figure that using this caricature will keep me from ever becoming proud.
Anyway, Rob, a skilled musician, is now serving as a pastor in Twickenham, England
If you check our website, www.servant.org, you will see the latest creation, a caricature done by Mike Lee of Memphis, Tennessee. I had forgotten that he was doing this until it showed up in the mail.We think its obvious quality merits use so you will begin seeing it on some of our materials.
A 24-year friendship has produced bonds of mutual benefit. For 20 years, I have served on his board at Calvary Chapel of Southbay serving the Torrance area of California. For almost as long, they have provided the legal shelter for Servant Quarters. God has used his building skills and pastoral skills to form a remarkable and large gathering that is the most diverse I have ever experienced.
We met because of the book, The Jesus Style. His integrity and overwhelming desire to win the lost in Asia, which resulted in the organization called Gospel for Asia, drew my heart to what he is doing. Now, I have served on his board for almost 20 years and have had the opportunity to see that integrity tested and proven many times. God has honored his ministry with continued growth and effectiveness.
His skills as a writer have produced several best-sellers and his well-tuned heart has steered him to very advanced and effective evangelism in Asia.
Further, Gisela, his wife, and his two children, Daniel and Sarah, are providing independently recognized leadership in Asia.
I highly recommend that you go to his web site (www.gfa.org) and pray about whether you want to be involved in winning the largest and darkest population areas in the world.
Many people ask us how Servant Quarters meets its bills. There are three sources. Our resources (books, tapes, CDs, etc.) have grown to being a major area of support.
The honoraria I receive as I speak around the nation provides another leg to the chair.
Consistently, people and churches whom God has touched have been our girders. By now, you know, unless this is the first issue you have ever read, that we do not do any “fundraising.” We never ask for financial support in any way, except for the resources we send out.
To our joy, God has caused many to consider us part of their missions program or simply moved their hearts to support the ministry because they want its message to spread.
We are forever grateful.
Besides being a great friend, Wayne Jacobsen does some of the best basic thinking about church and life of anyone I know. His latest book, Authentic Relationships, rings all the right bells. Through modern technology, you can go directly to his web site and see for yourself. (www.lifestream.org )