Gayle Erwin's Newsletter

November-December 1997 Newsletter

...A Success Story

Someday he may be president!
The hope of many fathers when a son is born. And in our country that hope becomes symbolic of all the ambitions present in a free society. Limited to one.

Most likely to succeed!
When the class has finished its voting, this honor goes to the financially aware, the salesman who knows which side his bread is buttered on, the go-getter, the wheeler-dealer and a host of other cliches. Limited to one.

Most valuable player!
Achieved by those who, fortunately, combine physical prowess with discipline and are comfortably in the public scene. Usually worth a raise in pay. Limited to one.

Winner...and new champion!
Reserved for the fighter, the one willing to beat opponents into submission or senselessness as an admiring crowd urges him to "kill 'em." Reserved for one.

There she is...Miss America!
The dream of the beautiful, the shapely, the ones "naturally" endowed with all that an admiring public finds dear. Limited to one.

Find him lying in a manger.
How did that get in here? No one with any ambition at all should ever be forced to have a child born in a barn! Must be riffraff. Oh well, some people just can't be helped. Someone ought to do something about the father who would let that happen in his family. Unheard of! Limited to one.

The greatest must be servant.
Are you kidding? Anyone who would believe that must have been born in a barn! How can you get ahead in life that way? Me? I'm looking out for old numero uno. I may even be president some day. You can keep that servanthood and humility stuff. Nice guys finish last, you know. Limited to followers of the One.


I have enjoyed reading all of your books and have gained immensely from each one of them. Just finished reading That Reminds Me Of A Story. It was fantastic and I have enjoyed reading it aloud with my family, and we have loved the discussion areas. I will go back to that book always for encouragement when I need my spirits lifted.

Michelle Taylor
Hemet, CA

I finally logged on to your Web site after reading about it in numerous newsletters. I'm sure glad I did. My husband had to come and see why I was laughing so hard (I was in the humor section, "Annual Singing Christmas Tree"). I also really appreciated the most requested articles. A friend who lives in a different city is leading worship in her church occasionally, and is trying to make some changes. Your article on "Worship in Spirit and Truth" will be really helpful to her. It also helped me appreciate the worship at my church and pinpoint some aspects that make it so enjoyable.

Thanks for the great Web site. I was surprised a guy of your age has such a cool one!!

Spokane, WA

The Men's Retreat was just wonderful, Gayle. You were able to be truly present to us...and not just "dial it in." Amazing! If ever there were a movie maker who would dare capture this picture of the Apostles and Jesus on film, it would be so neat. I imagine you roar when you see the soft- focus illusions painted by so many about His life.

James Mariani
Pt. Loma, CA

My wife, Glenda, is out of the hospital and recovering well though still in pain. I spent two days with her and the only thing she wanted was to read your book, That Reminds Me of a Story. She loved the stories, smiled a lot and cried. See you in heaven.

Steve Petrovics
Fredericksburg, VA

I love the new book. I only get to read it if I sneak it away from my wife, Charlotte. By the way, it has taken her through the full spectrum of emotions. Another promise well kept.

Richard Giardine
St. Louis, MO

Just wanted you to know how much my daughter enjoys your tapes. It is such a blessing to hear her sitting in the back of the car chuckling away, listening to your messages. We really appreciate the fact that she is learning more of God's Word through you.

Becky Myers
Nashville, TN

I purchased your book That Reminds Me of A Story.and no, my wife (Rhoda) has not taken it away to read by herself. Instead she has me read aloud so we can both benefit at the same time!!!

Brad Hudibergh
Vista, CA

You are so right! The big issue is sin. Amazing how quickly we focus on the "rabbit ears" and not on the "roaring lion."

Next weekend, our town will be hosting the 1997 "gay rodeo." You can imagine the mix of emotions in this town. Some are not bothered, some don't care. Many are angry and others want to blame someone or something. Thank God for my husband and six other pastors who have taken a stand to let the community know that it goes much deeper than all of that. The bottom line, the root of the problem, the big issue is sin. That's where our prayers need to focus. This is a typical diversion of the enemy to create a hostility toward not only the homosexuals who are coming to town, but also against the churches and people in this community.

Ever since I read your book, The Jesus Style, I always ask myself "What would Jesus do?" I know that he would spend a lot of time in prayer seeking the will of His Father. He would hit sin where it hurts the most -- in prayer.

Mari Hubbard
Ramona, CA

We just finished your Couples' Retreat Videos in our Couples' Bible Study, and they genuinely ministered! We have a half dozen couples attending, each having a diverse background and marriage history. Yet, the bottom line for each comes down to this: We need Jesus! Thanks for emphasizing Jesus, and His "Style," as THE ONLY MEANS of "returning to Eden."

Rocky Jones
Louisville, KY

I read a story that made me think of you and I wanted to share it. It is from a book by Marie Chapian entitled Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy. The book told of the sufferings of the true church in Yugoslavia where so much wrong has been perpetrated by the politicized ecclesiastical hierarchy. (Read that the Orthodox Church.Gayle.) That which has gone on in the name of Christ for the enriching and empowering of corrupt church officials has been a terrible affront to decency.

One day an evangelist by the name of Jakov arrived in a certain village. He commiserated with an elderly man named Cimmerman on the tragedies he had experienced and talked to him of the love of Christ.

Cimmerman abruptly interrupted Jakov and told him that he wished to have nothing to do with Christianity. He reminded Jakov of the dreadful history of the church in his town, a history replete with plundering, exploiting and indeed with killing innocent people. "My own nephew was killed by them," he said and angrily rebuffed any effort on Jakov's part to talk about Christ. "They wear those elaborate coats and caps and crosses," he said, "signifying a heavenly commission, but their evil designs and lives I cannot ignore."

Jakov, looking for an occasion to get Cimmerman to change his line of thinking, said, "Cimmerman, can I ask you a question? Suppose I were to steal your coat, put it on, and break into a bank. Suppose further that the police sighted me running in the distance but could not catch up with me. One clue, however, put them onto your track; they recognized your coat. What would you say to them if they came to your house and accused you of breaking into the bank?" "I would deny it," said Cimmerman.

"Ah, but we saw your coat, they would say," retorted Jakov. This analogy quite annoyed Cimmerman, who ordered Jakov to leave his home.

Jakov continued to return to the village periodically just to befriend Cimmerman, encourage him, and share the love of Christ with him. Finally one day Cimmerman asked, "How does one become a Christian?" and Jakov taught him the simple steps of repentance for sin and of trust in the work of Jesus Christ and gently pointed him to the Shepherd of his soul. Cimmerman bent his knee on the soil with his head bowed and surrendered his life to Christ. As he rose to his feet, wiping his tears, he embraced Jakov and said, "Thank you for being in my life." And then he pointed to the heavens and whispered, "You wear His coat very well."

Tony Trujillo
Denver, CO

I have heard you speak several times – even had lunch with you with a group from our church. You are absolutely my favorite speaker – and the thing I admire the most is that everything is centered around Jesus.

Could I ask you for some help? I've been a Christian for a long time and for the past five years have been very active in our ladies ministry. One area I've struggled in most of my life, and it seems to be getting worse, is depression. I've done nearly everything one can do for it (I think). Now for nearly a year it's been plaguing me on nearly a daily basis. Two wonderful friends have been praying for me-both of them pastors' wives. I want to have joy but am so much overwhelmed with depression. There are many problem areas in my life at the moment. Can you help out?

A Friend
The West

Thank you for your letter. Here are some ways to avoid/conquer depression:

  1. "If you want to find your life, lose it."(Matt. 16) Immersing yourself in blessing others does several things. It keeps your mind and efforts on others (others-centered) rather than yourself and causes feedback from others that changes your view of life. Seek to contribute to your circle of friends (obviously you have them) and not by focusing their attention on your feelings.

  2. "So we with unveiled faces..." (2 Cor. 3:17-18). Keep yourself exposed to God. Confess EVERYTHING, even your current feelings. Repent. Ask for HIS help. Do it immediately and as often as needed. And I do mean OFTEN.

  3. Confess (verbally) and believe the things God says about you in the Bible. (2 Cor. 5:21, for instance) By knowing the TRUTH you can recognize the errors of your feelings.

  4. Verbally call your feelings liars!

  5. Recognize that sometimes these feelings are chemically caused. Talk to your doctor. The medical field has made significant strides in this area.
Blessings, Gayle

The Life Is in the Blood

Red blood cells are designed solely to ferry oxygen to every tissue and remove carbon dioxide. They are composed almost entirely of water and a red protein called hemoglobin. There is an iron atom trapped in each heme molecule. It is this iron atom that clings to oxygen, and it is the structure of the heme molecule and the surrounding folds of globin which insures iron's hold on oxygen is weak. This allows for the quick transfer of oxygen for carbon dioxide and vice versa.

Where is Jesus in all of this? It is the very organization of the entire body that reveals God's plan. Deep within the bone marrow, primitive cells called erythroblasts continually divide. The resulting pair divides until each erythroblast has produced 16 red blood cells. The first thing a new red blood cell does is to expel its nucleus, thereby laying aside its protection and reproductive ability. The very thing that seems harmful or "suicidal" to the red blood cell is the very thing needed to serve and "save" all the other cells of the body! Just as Jesus laid aside His divine rights so he could cleanse us from sin, so red blood cells lay aside the birthright of every living cell in order to bring life-giving oxygen to every tissue, taking on the waste products that would lead to the death of the cell. Another parallel with Christ is that the cells cannot reach the oxygen from the lungs, nor the nutrients from the intestines; but the red blood cells form a living bridge, accomplishing for every cell what they could not themselves. Jesus meets us where we are; there are no situations or locations Jesus cannot reach into. Just so the red blood cells reach every single cell of the body from the fingertips to the internal organs to the brain itself; all have need and all receive life from the red blood cells.

Life boils down to servanthood, doesn't it?

Excerpts from The Incredible Machine by National Geographic. c1986

The Waning Authority of Christ Over the Church

This is an old and gripping article still relevant for today -- Gayle.
By A. W. Tozer

I claim no special inspiration for the burden I feel, because I think it is also the burden of the Spirit. If I know my own heart, love alone moves me to write this.

I should also acknowledge that I myself am very much involved in the situation I here deplore. As Ezra in his mighty prayer of intercession, I include myself among the wrongdoers. "0 my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our heads, and our trespass is grown up into the heavens."

The cause of my burden is this: Jesus Christ today has almost no authority among groups that call themselves by his name. I do mean Protestant churches generally, including those that protest the loudest that they are in spiritual descent from our Lord and his apostles, namely the evangelicals.

A basic doctrine of the New Testament states that after his resurrection the Man Jesus was declared by God to be both Lord and Christ, and that He was invested by the Father with absolute Lordship over the Church which is his body. All authority is his in heaven and in earth.

The present position of Christ in the gospel churches may be likened to a king in a limited, constitutional monarchy. The king (sometimes depersonalized by the term "the Crown") in such a country is no more than a traditional rallying point, a pleasant symbol of unity and loyalty much like a flag or a national anthem. He is lauded, feted and supported, but his real authority is small. Nominally he is head over all, but in every crisis someone else makes the decisions. On formal occasions he appears in royal attire to deliver the tame, colorless speech put into his mouth by the real rulers of the country.

Among the gospel churches Christ is now little more than a symbol.... "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" is the Church's national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by-week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions. Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden" or, "Let not your heart be troubled," but when the speech is finished someone else takes over. Those in actual authority decide the moral standards of the church, as well as all objectives and methods employed to achieve them. Because of long and meticulous organization it is now possible for the youngest pastor just out of seminary to have more actual authority in a church than Jesus Christ.

Not only does Christ have little or no authority; his influence is becoming less and less. I would not say that He has none, only that it is small and diminishing.

The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but has been mostly relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion. If it is taught as a theory in the classroom it rarely applies to practical living. The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole Church and all of its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.

We accept the Christianity of our group as being identical with that of Christ and his apostles. The beliefs, practices, ethics and activities of our group are equated with New Testament Christianity. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. We assume that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group, thus keeping the commandments of Christ.

To avoid the hard necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament we take refuge in a liberal interpretation. We evangelicals know how to avoid the sharp point of obedience by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh. They excuse disobedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. The essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by interpretation.

What church board consults our Lord's words to decide matters under discussion? Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a church board try to recall the times or time when any board member read from Scripture to make a point, or when any chairman suggested that the brethren should see what instructions the Lord had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or a "season of prayer," after that the Head of the Church is respectfully silent while the real rulers of the church take over. Let anyone who denies this bring forth evidence to refute it. I for one will be glad to hear it.

What Sunday school committee goes to the Word for directions? The members invariably assume that they already know what they are supposed to do and their only problem is to find effective means to get it done. Plans, rules, "operations" and new methodological techniques absorb all their time and attention. The prayer before the meeting is for divine help to carry out their plans. Apparently the idea that the Lord might have some instructions for them never enters their heads.

Who remembers when a conference chairman brought his Bible to the table for the purpose of using it? Minutes, regulations, rules of order, yes. The sacred commandments of the Lord, no. An absolute dichotomy exists between the devotional period and the business session. The first has no relation to the second.

What foreign mission board actually seeks to follow the guidance of the Lord provided by his Word and his Spirit? They all think they do, but what they do is to assume the scripturalness of their ends and then ask for help to find ways to achieve them. They may pray all night for God to give success to their enterprises, but Christ is desired as their helper, not their Lord. Human means are devised to achieve ends assumed to be divine. These harden into policy, and thereafter the Lord doesn't even have a vote.

In the conduct of our public worship where is the authority of Christ to be found? The truth is the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our group.

What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?

The causes back of the decline in our Lord's authority are many. I name only two. One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups. Not Christ but custom is lord in this situation. And the same thing has passed into the other groups such as full gospel tabernacles, holiness churches, pentecostal and fundamental churches and many independent and undenominational churches found everywhere throughout the North American continent.

The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals. This, if I sense the situation correctly, is not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned. Because of it good men who ought to know better are being put in the position of collaborating with the enemy. They walk about in a kind of ecstatic unbelief, much as the soloist of the neighborhood church choir might if invited to sing at La Scala.

For the true Christian the one supreme test for the present soundness and ultimate worth of everything religious must be the place our Lord occupies in it. Is He Lord or symbol? All religious activities from the simplest act of an individual Christian to the ponderous and expensive operations of a whole denomination may be proved by the answer to the question, Is Jesus Christ Lord in this act? Whether our works prove to be wood, hay and stubble or gold and silver and precious stones in that great day will depend upon the right answer to that question.

What then are we to do? Each of us must decide among three possible choices. One is to rise up in shocked indignation and accuse me of irresponsible reporting. Another is to nod general agreement with what is written here but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions and we are among exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonored our Lord in failing to give Him the place his Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church. The first or the second will confirm the wrong. The third if carried out to its conclusion can remove the curse.
The decision lies with us . . .