Decades ago, I attended what was billed as a prayer conference (We did about everything but pray) and listened to a speaker berate television for an hour. This was back when television had a few good programs on it, though I recall that an official in charge of regulating television called it a vast wasteland. I might add that its wasteland is no longer limited by the word vast.
I remarked to someone after the long polemic against television that God sent the speaker out to catch a roaring lion and he returned with only rabbit ears.
Every season of church life has a hobby horse that provides some sort of rallying point but diverts us from the big issue.
Currently, the issue most occupying concerted activity is homosexuality and abortion. Though these deserve attention, that still is not the big issue. Once again, these become diversions from the real problem and create a hostility toward people rather than an opportunity to rescue.
So, what is the big issue?Sin!
Our freedom, precious as it is, does give us the opportunity to show what is in our hearts. Every time the Supreme Court rules, they open the door wider for us to express our sinfulness.
So, who destroys our country the most? Is it the tobacco industry? Or the alcohol industry? Or big money lobbyists? Or greedy monopolistic barons? Or adulterers? Or abortionists? Or homosexuals? Or new age Disney? It's hard to pick a worthy foe, unless we boil it down to the tap root – sin!
I think it is time to chase the roaring lion rather than clip rabbit ears.
That Reminds Me of a Story is great. It reminds me of hot, muggy nights in Tirana, Albania, hearing a lot of those stories first hand. God has given you more than one string on your guitar; your whole life is an orchestra that backs up that one string. It sounds really, really good.
I want to re-teach The Jesus Style this fall for our men's Bible Study, and I would like to use your videotapes to do that, as well as the book.
However, I'm not sure how to track the videos to the book. The titles are different, and so I need some guidance as to which videos to buy so that the fellows can read the book, attend the video sessions, and get the maximum benefit as we discuss the material.
Which tapes should I buy (all of them, of course!) to most closely fit the message of the "Jesus Style"?Steve Bradley,
I want to let you know that we had six individuals call us and say that at your youth rally in Bowling Green they made a decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I look forward to receiving some of your new radio programs at WCVK. You have changed my life with your books, CD's, videos, and your witness. Your visit with us really blessed me and gave a spark to my ministryLucas Davidson, WCVK
Thanks for your great newsletters – we have really enjoyed them to the full! I especially loved the one with the story about "Half a Brain" several months ago as a friend and I are always praying for the Lord to give us a "brain" for the projects He gets us into! It was also touching in a more serious way as another dear friend's mother went home to be with the Lord after a week-long coma due to a sudden ruptured aneurysm just a few years ago. We have had a few discussions pondering the spiritual life of a person in such a state and your article made a lot of sense.
Also have been reading The Jesus Style for the first time and I have really found some great ideas to "chew on" and apply to my life especially concerning my husband and children.Kurt and Debbie Oglesby
We really appreciate your home pages, yes those two people who keep it going are a blessing. We look at where you're at each week and pray for you. Your tapes are such a blessing, in the small area we live in, we still haven't found a church we feel comfortable calling home. We keep it in prayer every week.Reg and Judy Lambkin
I have just finished reading That Reminds Me of a Story by Gayle Erwin. One of the stories that particularly moved me was "Eugene." When I finished I knew immediately of two people that I wanted to thank for their influence on my life during critical times. One was Art Jensen whom I met while in my early 20's, and adopted as a substitute father as did many others my age who were fortunate enough to know him.
At that age I was not living at home and no longer needed a father in the same way I did when I was younger, however I very much needed a father's wise counsel, even though I wasn't totally cognizant of that need. Art cheerfully and compassionately filled that role far more capably than I would have had the sense to even ask. Although God took him from this world several years ago, some day I'll be able to tell him face to face of how God used him to physically demonstrate God's gentleness and mercy, as well as His personal love and concern for me.
The other person was you, Gayle. God sent you to me when I was in my late 20s. It is only when I look back that I can see just how important that decade was in God's carefully worked out plan to mold me and teach me. "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity." (Jer. 29:11-14).
How wonderful! Gayle, you taught me that Jesus was as real and physical as you or Art. In a very real sense, you and Art became the physical touch of Jesus on my life when I most needed to know a physical Jesus. Today when I read the stories of Jesus' life on earth in the New Testament, or am able to "see" Him in the characters and stories in the Old Testament my heart burns the way it did when I first heard you teach "The Jesus Style" as my pastor some 15 or 20 years ago. I enjoy telling people that you wrote that book while serving as my pastor long before Phillip Yancey even thought of writing his own wonderful book on Jesus. My prayer is that more such writers and teachers will continue to keep us focused on the very real flesh and blood Jesus who willingly sacrificed himself as our only hope for redemption, our only hope for a reconciled relationship with our own creator and Father. I was raised in an evangelical church and knew about the Jesus of my parents.
You brought me face to face with Jesus at a time when I was wondering why I was even going to church. If it doesn't sound too egotistical, God sent you to Glengrove to reach me. Oh yes, you also had a book to write. Of all the pastors He could have sent, He chose you. That is more compassion than I can imagine, certainly more than I deserve. Thank you for listening and obeying. Thank God for speaking to you.Mickey Wilson
I went to a "Bible study" where some selected person would describe their personal walk, and how they saw/heard/interacted with God. One person took the example of Gideon to heart, where Gideon is only convinced after he hears the (Midianite) enemies of God reinforce what he has already been assured of. He took this to mean that, although he couldn't HEAR God, whenever he looked back, he saw God's hand directing events in his life.
Now, while I fully agree with the thrust of his argument, I had occasion to think about the details and remembered your quip that God chose those that only knelt at the waterhole instead of those that dived in face-first; my idea was about the same as yours, that God chose the "pacificists" not the aggressive, "I'm great" soldiers who shoved their way to the front (just like God to take the peace-lovers to war !).
The idea is, that in any experienced militia/army, when you go to camp, (especially in hostile country) to water, whatever, you post SENTRIES: so, the common acceptance that those who knelt were more "aware" won't wash: it's more likely they did so because that's the type of person they were.
Pat Proctor had another insight – this could symbolize how people accept the Word – some rush in, gobble up what they can and then are prematurely full, maybe to never drink again: others savour it slowly over a period, absorbing what they take, but never becoming sated.Michael
My wife and I bought the set of marriage tapes from you at the pastors conference in Tahoe this year. We loved them and both of us feel that God wants us to share these with the couples in our church. After we are done with the set I would like to continue a study on marriage if there is an interest with the group. Since I have never done anything like this before I was wondering if you knew of any good studies I could bring them through?Rob and Mary Burk
Yes, Ken Ortize of Spokane, WA (509-467-2860) has an excellent book you can study, and Steve Carr of Arroyo Grande, CA (805-481-2320) has developed excellent material.
I just wanted to let you know that my wife and I shared your videos on THE NATURE OF JESUS SERIES to a couple who were starving for the simplicity of the gospel message. It was well received and brought joy to their hearts. The message along with the laymen term of understanding was much needed in their walk as they had told us that their pastor is hard to understand and talks more on theology than anything else.Jim and Robin Brown.
Just finished your That Reminds Me of a Story book. Great read, although you are missing the disclaimer on the front. What disclaimer you may ask? The one that warns the user to keep a hanky handy. I needed one for both the happy and sad stories. I was especially moved by Jake and Eugene.John McKenny
As I sat in my office on a cold wintery day, I came across your internet site and had to take a peek. As the snow falls outside and the wind howls, I found my heart being warmed on a chilly day by your insightful humor, and my spirit being edified by your nourishing articles. Thanks for providing this site. I plan to visit often and glean from the wisdom God has given you.Bryan Richardson
"Thanks!" for your books. The Father Style and The Jesus Style have been real blessings to me. (I haven't read The Spirit Style yet, but soon will. I am currently reading The Jesus Style through a second time to be sure and absorb it all.) I intend to purchase the books to give as gifts so others can receive the blessings I have from them. I'm also enjoying the webpage. Keep up all the great workMichele Silvernail
Just a quick note to let you know how blessed we are to have your radio programs airing on WJCX in Bangor. The simple truths you share are great. I pray the Lord continues to expand their use.Dennis Harvey
Thanks for the copy of That Reminds Me of a Story. I read the first few chapters and then it disappeared. Rebekah, my daughter, had managed to get it and read it in a couple of days. She gave it a "thumbs up" so it must be all right.
The rest of us are staying busy with the stuff. Some of it is preacher stuff, but lately we've actually been able to do some of Jesus' kind of stuff. His stuff is so much neater than our stuff. Profound, ain't it? Blessings on all of you Servant Quarters folks.Phil Taylor
I think I understand the message of your encouraging fax. It has been an interesting nine months of my life. As a pastor I have buried two people and married three couples. Performed two baby dedications. Counseled two couples with trials of adultery, two couples with teen struggles, and an assortment of other emergency counseling. Trials, small building program, leaders burning out and a few other items along with being self employed while pastoring. Boy! No wonder the Apostle Paul spoke about endurance, running, suffering, wrestling, fighting and thorns in the flesh and, most importantly, God's grace.
This week I stood with the family of a dear brother from our church as he breathed his last on this earth and his first of glory. The family are predominantly believers. He was without life insurance so his wife did not have the money for the funeral and burial site. We had a special time of prayer for the family at our Wednesday night service and took an offering for the wife. God provided through those who gathered from three different churches, most of her need. Just as God directed the saints of Antioch to provide famine relief to the Jewish believers of Judea, He provided last night for this family.
"They will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another."Bob Ybarra
I watched the "Nature of the Father" last night. You are such a blessing to the body. Thanks so much for your sense of humor. I did like the part about all of us breaking the law. (55)!! Yeah, buddy! You will be greatly rewarded for clearing up life's truly important issues.Arlene
Thank you very much for the new book! It didn't come in our regular mail, but when the post man delivered it later, it was time for Jonathan to take his nap. It was so perfect. He slept for three hours and I sat out in the back yard (one of few sunny days here in Germany) and read nearly the whole thing.
Nick was in his office studying with his office window open and could hear me cry then laugh, then cry etc. He kept coming out insisting that I tell him the story. I told him he'd have to read it himself. He's so curious, but impatient also. He said "its a relational thing, I want to share the moment with you," so I shared the story. I finished the book last night after Jonathan went to bed. It was just as you say on the back cover.
It also helped me to take my eyes off of my own situation and realize that things could be a lot worse. Some of the stories about your pastor days with Ada made me thankful for what we face now. The book is great!! We love you and Ada and thank you for your commitment to the Lord all these years. You are an awesome example of servanthood to us.Nick & Sue Long
Hey, thanks for the book That Reminds Me of a Story. by the very special author Gayle D. Erwin. We think of and pray for you often. Both of us are really enjoying it. The best part is that it reminds us of the many good study times we have had together. We can read one story and often be reminded of a whole sermon. Thanks for signing it for us, too. We feel privileged!Ed and Marge Schwartz
The assignment was to write a letter to what would be my wife. I don't have one; just a single guy at a "couple's" retreat.
I thought to approach you and talk to you personally, but.... Well, it's certainly not because you are unapproachable, it's just that, in all fairness to you, everyone wants to tell you their story for one reason or another. Some try, but in my experience one always walks away wondering if they could have said it better. The "Thank you, you've touched my life!" seems to melt in with twenty-five or so others, leaving one wondering if their heart felt gratitude was just part of what's become routine to you.
In thanking anyone for life changing counsel, there is also the praise-factor. I know it's not really Gayle whom I should credit, and I don't. Not to be so brazen, but everything that is Gayle, everything praise-worthy, is a gift from God. "Praise God for you, Gayle!" I say to you. And although I don't credit you exclusively for what God is doing through you, I don't discredit you for all it takes to remain an empty, usable vessel. I want to encourage you with my "Thank you for touching my life..."Thank you.
In my short life of twenty years, I have sailed many seas not typical of the standard Sear's Catalog twenty-year-old. I have been through many Christian denominations, the Catholic Church, two years of Mormonism, and every mal- and dys-function afforded a Young American in a self-centered world without a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
I now have that relationship. Working on stripping myself layer by layer of the lead paint this world and I have colored myself with, I am now less concerned with my siding and have the best interior decorator money can't buy: the Holy Spirit.
Not long ago, I found myself with no place to go but to God. I was a nineteen-year-old, unemployed, overdrawn, lonely, depressed, suicidal, criminal, cynical, homosexual. I bounced check after check to buy Chanel make-up and beaded evening gowns to perform as a drag-queen at a local gay bar.
My family didn't know what to do with me; I didn't know what to do with me. I had been arrested for shop-lifting and fought to save what might have been a child of mine from being aborted...the list goes on with drugs and many other things. (The child was not mine; I could not dissuade the mother from abortion.) I was out of control.
Then I cried out. He answered me. Things have been uphill since. Not easy, but uphill. My biggest struggle has been my homosexuality. It always has been. It has been since I was very little. I submitted to God and His Word, trusting He would somehow reconcile to me the "Why's and Why Not's" later. He is working quickly.
This weekend I have reached the point where it all makes sense. I can see the "Why's" clearly. And in the light of the "Why's," the "Why Not's" become obvious. Couples with their arms around each other, tears, laughter, love, hope, purpose, understanding, direction. I now see everything the world has bereaved me of since childhood: love – true love between a man and a woman, mothers and fathers. This is the key to my success in conquering once and for all my confusion with homosexuality.
As soon as I was saved I knew, I still don't know how yet, that I would be called to minister to the homosexuals. I have acquired much information on the subject. My greatest understanding has come from the Book of Romans. Ever since as far as I can remember, I have clung to that book of the Bible.
It was both hope and hell to me for most of my life. Chapter one, verse twenty-seven and round about was the wall between me and God for years. My emotions, my experience, everything I knew and was, insisted otherwise. Yet, in the same breath I knew that Jesus Christ is God, the Bible, the only way man could know of Him and His Teaching. I just never tasted the victory of the cross.
I tried. "Reckoning myself dead" was a fantastic concept just altogether impractical. I was essentially trapped as many are in the law of sin of Romans 7 somehow neglecting for years to reconcile practically with chapter 8. I now savor victory. I am indeed dead, and resurrected, not merely "reckoning" myself in frustration as such.
I thank you, Gayle, for the part you played in that. More importantly I thank God, who by means mysterious and often unseen has heard my prayers and answered them. Gayle, the origin of everything original to this Earth, the same as He who thousands of years ago in a garden eastward in Eden created man and woman, has chosen to answer my prayer through you.
Amazing, huh?A Friend
I am seeking to purchase the video series or parts of it for the prison at Donovan, CA. As I feel that an accurate picture of Jesus is one thing that will help a person to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, I would like to provide these materials to the men there.
I got saved at Donovan in 1987 and in 1988 one of the brothers told me that I just had to see this new preacher on the yard. Knowing this bro. I knew that it had to be someone special for him to get excited about. I saw Bryan Newberry and was blown away by the verse-by-verse teaching that he was doing. I was hooked from the beginning and have been at Calvary ever since. Bryan also had us read The Jesus Style book in the leadership training class; it blew us away!
The men at the prison rarely receive good instruction. That's why Mark and I are going back in to teach The Jesus Style to them!Dave Hunt
There's a guy at our church that slips out almost unnoticed each week, but when I can catch him this big burly, once-in-a-while attendee, will smother me and say, "You are loved" and walks out to the parking lot. I'm not sure if he loves me or not but he lets me know that I am loved, by somebody, I suppose.
That is the point of this note. I often think of you, and pray for you and, oh yes, you're loved – by me. Thanks for the new Jesus Style.Gary Johnson
You remember Larry Norman? He had a song, performed on piano, called, I think, "The Tune." It was a simple melody, bright, catchy, memorable, and he would play it through variations and these dissonant passages and ultimately it would be drowned under a deluge of dissonant pounding. When the susained noise cleared away, the tune emerged, simple, bright, catchy, memorable – triumphant! Of course, it was the Gospel, the Lord and His message, rising triumphant through Calvary into the Resurrection. I think the Gaithers redid it with narration and an orchestra.
Anyway, your teaching is like a return to the simple, bright, catchy, memorable tune, the Jesus who came through the blurry noise of my life, and stood there, laughing and triumphant, calling me to love Him, offering joy, freedom, peace – new life.
The word "refreshing" is overused, but the Lord's words through you are powerfully refreshing to me, and I know, millions of others. I'm on tiptoe to hear how your radio and TV ministry will expand. It shows how much He loves me, and wants to use me, that He would allow our paths to cross there at college. How long ago was that, anyway? Nevermind.
Thanks for ruining me, training me to recognize non-Jesus styled forms of ministry, in myself and others. I'll forever be uncomfortable.Rod Butler