Gayle Erwin's Newsletter
February, March 1998 Newsletter
I love the idealistic world of a child. I live there to this day.
A pain I have borne as a father is to watch my children discover that the world
outside is not a loving, caring, honest world. To see my own children cheated
or bullied causes me as much grief as it does them. I hate the process of disillusionment,
but I know it to be necessary.
Disillusionment is the loss of hope and trust in
those things that promise but cannot deliver. I propose that maturity is being
disillusioned and reacting
Idealism is the belief that all things or people are, or can be, good and right.
Idealism, fragile at best, is a dozen eggs facing a steamroller. Dreams and
expectations die so easily. Visions fade. A horrible thing called cynicism
Cynicism is disillusionment with the total loss of idealism.
Maturity is being disillusioned by those things that ought to disillusion
but retaining hope in those things that ought to foster hope. But what are
I am a disillusioned man filled with idealism. Mature? Not yet. Maybe when
I am 80. Idealistic? Incurably so. Perhaps disillusioned and idealistic sound
like mutually exclusive terms. So, I offer explanation.
There was a time when I thought traditions offered hope. They seem to foster such stability and, often, beauty. Then I discovered that traditions are not intelligently begun nor are they formed for common good. They are for some smaller groups convenience or else they accidentally happen.
Does politics deliver? I seriously considered, at the urging of some friends, a run for public office. Then I realized that politics is basically the decline and fall of anyone who chooses to get involved. Could I withstand the powerful pull of money and power? Could I maintain a true choice of what is good and best, or would I be just another slave of the self interests of a political party or wealthy company? I knew that my flesh was too weak.
In the heat of political campaigns, as I watch and decry religious identification with certain parties, people often ask me, "Then just who do you like?" I tell them that I have yet to see a president that I thought deserved my vote. By the time you reach the top, corruption is a given.
Amazing isn't it how we are so readily fooled into thinking that political parties and politicians are truly interested in our ethics and goals. The gates of all capital cities should post this rule of politics: "Get in power. Stay in power. Increase your power. Power corrupts."
There was a time when I thought a religious system/denomination was the source of all truth. As I moved deeper into its inner workings, I discovered that it operated with the same rules and corruptions of power and money as the world systems. By that point, I was much quicker in spotting hopelessness and giving up on those things I considered hopeless.
At one point, I felt that scientific knowledge and intellectual development would ease the tortured path of mankind, but it seems only to develop gadgets we can live without and instruments to kill more people at once than ever before.
How, then, can I maintain any sort of idealism. The answer is simple: Hope and Grace. I live with the constant hope that Jesus will soon return and the government will then be upon his shoulders. Scandals and corruption will end. I revel in the hope that more and more people will come to know Jesus and by that become men of good will. I live also understanding that this messed-up humanity, by its degradation, nominates itself for Grace. I live realizing that Grace exists for no one unless we are its conduits.
So, one can live idealistically and realistically at the same time, recognizing the hope we have and not being fooled by the world's actions that come from its hopelessness and at the same time, acting toward the world with Grace as if we were ambassadors for Christ.
— Gayle D. Erwin
A special thanks to you for the That Reminds Me ... book. I find it so difficult to set aside time to read. I got the opportunity earlier this week, as my wife Suzy went in for some surgery. I had prepared the night before for the anxious wait in the waiting room.
I filled my backpack,
Bible - check,
Hard candies - check,
Money (for more candy) - check,
That Reminds Me Of A Story - check.
Once Suzy was in the operating room, I finally settled down for the long wait. I tried to read my Bible as I waited, but the TV in the background was spewing forth the morning talk-show filth, and I just couldn't concentrate! I went to plan B. I was finally going to get some time to read your book. What a huge blessing that was!
As folks were glued to the TV, watching men dressed as women, women dressed as men, and everything in-between, I was deep in reading. I was so blessed by your book, constantly going from choking back the tears, to often laughing out loud. People must have really wondered about me.
I can't help but thank the Lord for blessing you with such an ability to communicate His love (and humor) through your teachings and stories.
Ron and Suzy Goers
I am writing you from Centerville, Tennessee home of Hickman County's own Minnie Pearl. We haven't always been so fortunate as to live in this little neck of the woods, as we left Chino Hills, CA only 11 months ago.
I just visited Servant Quarters web site and I enjoyed it much. I especially liked the "Anti-Arrogance" joke which reminded me of a story that happened to me not very long after our arrival in Tennessee and I thought you might appreciate a good chuckle!
While grocery shopping one Saturday afternoon I became hungry for something that wasn't the norm for this region, but since I happened to be in a pretty large chain market I thought, "Surely I can find all the stuff I need to make bagels and cream cheese for a nice Sunday breakfast."
I had grown tired of the usual milk and cereal and didn't want a fattening breakfast of bacon and eggs. "Okay, I've found 'unsliced' bagels, red onion, Neufchatel cheese and capers, now I only need one more thing." I strolled smugly up to the butcher and in sweetest voice, asked impressively. "Do you have any lox?"
The kind of plump older gentleman laid down the meat he was organizing in the meat case, turned around smiling and with a twinkle in his eye innocently replied, "Ummm, have you tried hardware?" He didn't have any idea of my self-exalted intentions, nor did he have to, but while laughing together at our funny combined joke, I learned an important lesson. Sometimes even when you might think your basket is rid of any motives that are unpure, you might need to go shopping!
This week I included your list of things to do to overcome depression in our church newsletter. We've got a lot of people who are battling depression in our body right now and your tidbits were very timely.
By the way, did you ever look at Elijah's situation after Jezebel threatened him as one of the greatest cases of depression and suicidal thoughts in the Bible? I did that once and realized that God helped Elijah work through it in some very important ways.
Here's the outline I use for that teaching:
- Depression often sets in after great victories and spiritual highs because at that point we are usually exhausted, overconfi-dent and vulnerable to emotional attacks.
- When it does, a first step is to rest and refresh our bodies notice that the angel leads Elijah to a place of rest and feeds him.
- God gives Elijah encouragement by letting him know how many others are standing with him. It always helps to remember we are not alone in the battle and the work.
- God gives Elijah a new revelation of who He is. The true cure for depression is getting our eyes off ourselves and on to Him.
- God gives Elijah a new purpose. Depression often comes after we have accomplished our dream and have no goals in front of us. God redirects Elijah's ministry and sends him out with new hope and new focus.
I wanted to tell you something amazing that happened to me at a pastor's conference while you were teaching. You were teaching on "The Lord's Prayer" and the importance of forgiveness. How we need to forgive others as the Lord has forgiven us. As a Calvary pastor, I was in complete agreement with everything you said. I was even thinking "How I wish some people in our church could benefit from this study!" Then I drifted. My thoughts were completely consumed by some friends of my wife and mine. I was thinking of how much they resembled Job's three friends. How they were wrongly judging a matter that concerned us. They only knew a small portion of a situation with a close friend of ours and they completely judged it and us wrong. So I was thinking about some juicy scriptures that I was going to tell them off with. Make them feel small, bad, and like crawling before God and begging for forgiveness. Then pleading with us for forgiveness. Then I came back to earth and listened to the rest of your study. I laughed with everyone else as you described the forgiven servant who turned around and strangled his servant because he owed him fifty dollars. It was not until later that afternoon that the Holy Spirit showed me I could be that servant if I did not turn my friends over to Jesus and forgive them and love them.
Oh what wicked and deceptive hearts we have.
I was again blessed by the teaching that went forth by you, Chuck, and Jon at the Midwest Pastors' Conference. One thing I've noticed, and appreciate, as I glean from your example, is the continued presence of the joy of the Lord. In retrospect, the Lord has responded with
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things."
"The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
You've provided a vivid example of "positive meditation" (am I coining a new phrase here?) for me, and, no doubt, others, as we've learned, received, heard, and seen Christ through your life. Thanks!
The folks from our Nazarene fellowship really enjoyed your teaching on Long Island! My brother and his wife have been watching your videos and are preparing to teach a Sunday School Class entitled "The Jesus Style" at the Endicott Church of the Nazarene. My brother's faith is strong and who knows but that the message on the Nature of Jesus will be shared in that setting in a way that God has designed that we know nothing about.
Bayshore, LI, NY
To keep your memory fresh, (I know, a job in itself, ha!) I have previously written and told you after listening to your teaching on "Digging Where The Treasure Is At," making Jesus my priority in life above everything else, how my life began to change drastically. Turning from my god (little "g") of the outdoors, guns and hunting/fishing, I 'sold all I had' and began to follow HIM. I didn't plan it this way. It just began to happen as I desired to place Jesus above all I know.
Now, 2 years after first beginning to dig where the treasure is at, I have struck out from the comfortable, warm and cozy fellowship of the Applegate Christian Fellowship into a ministry of music and leading worship at a small church down in our northern California area.
You see, the Lord has been causing me to feel, as best I can describe it, "uncomfortable in my comfortable-ness" at ACF, in my constant drinking of the Word as our pastor taught it. But James 1:22 was my call. It says "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." The rewards of God's "peace that passeth ALL understanding" are rich in joy and personal growth (in Him) as I learn to climb some mountains, and pray to cast other (mountains) into the sea!
I thank you once again for allowing God to "make you an instrument." I have drunk deeply of His Word in the rich teachings and fellowship of the ACF, but I also praise God that it all came together for me in the simple statement that "If you want to find the treasure, you have to dig where it's at."
I lift you and your radio ministry up to God in prayer as I continue to feed on your "nuggets" from God's word on KAPL AM 1300!!! Blessings on all of you!!!
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. We love the discussion areas. I will go back to that book always for encouragement when I need my spirits lifted.
You made it simple to understand the nature of Jesus. We were honored and humbled at the same time, as you ministered to us in person; being busy and with crowded agenda, you took time to come and visit us in prison. Many of our families have not spent as much time loving us and ministering to us as you, a perfect stranger, did.
With many of us stinking of cigarette smoke, bad breath, state soap, and common knowledge that disease is rampant in prisons, you shook our hands, hugged us, stood next to us and spoke with us as though we were like any good friend.
Your videos brought our textbook to life concerning the application of scriptural principles, and your visit demonstrated firsthand, "by example." Your effect on our lives will be remembered and cherished as one of the high points of our walk in understanding.
Pelican's Nest Chapel
Pelican Bay State Prison, CA
I have been enjoying your "Jesus Style" studies on the internet on Saturday nights. Last Saturday night your message was "The Garbage is Gone." I can relate. After a full day preaching at church, I am reminded each Sunday night that the garbage is not gone. I have to soil my hands and take the "real" garbage out to the street and then I wonder, "Is tomorrow a holiday?!"
Yes, they have at times rejected my garbage, also. I thought that my garbage was as good as anybody else's.
Clifford J. Tomlinson
Dix Hills, NY
In order to say "Thank you" we would like to borrow a phrase from someone we dearly love: We "smile until our faces hurt!" whenever we open our mailbox and discover another treasure from Servant Quarters. Thank you for the books, posters and letters of encouragement. You have touched our lives more deeply than a simple letter can express.
Mario and Shana Fimbres
San Diego, CA
Now, Gayle, I can't really say I am angry or upset with you, but you do make it hard on a guy! You see, Brenda and I purchased your four volume set of books which includes That Reminds Me... Both my wife and I have read the book (Brenda has read the other three books.) And we must say, "You just aren't fair." We laughed and cried all the way through That Reminds Me.... What a beautiful collection of touching, thought-provoking stories. And to think that you LIVED all those adventures! Also, I now have some more insight as to how to approach nonbelievers.
Patrick A. Taylor
1997 proved very productive for Servant Quarters, but that productivity haunts us in an interesting way. We now have 73 hours of messages on videotape. This delights us but overwhelms the average viewer when trying to decide which to acquire.
Traveling with all of them is virtually impossible, so we divide them into meaningful groups to assist in your decision making. We also form groupings that we feel will be most edifying.
The sheer logistics of making them all available when we are traveling forces us to decrease our bulk but opens the door to an outstanding value for you.
Because we are committed to getting the message out, we consistently price our tapes to make them easy for you to obtain. People often thank us for not being predatory in our pricing. We can't imagine being any other way.
When people ask us which sets would be the best for them to get, we do not hesitate in answering--the God's Nature series is our flagship of videotapes. We want everyone to see that series. Second would be the Spiritual Growth set. That set contains understanding that we consider vital to Christian living.
Next would be the Family Relationships set. That name can be misleading, because these are not the "couple's retreat" type of messages. These help you reconcile the difficult teachings of Jesus about family plus we include two major and highly popular messages in that set. Jesus the Great Hunter is the most effective evangelistic message God has given me. People have accepted the Lord simply watching that video. Also in that set is the Dealing with Manipulators tape. This is another "everyone" type of message. If you want to be a servant, how can you keep people from taking advantage of you? See the tape and you will know.
Our currently most popular set might surprise you. We tread water keeping enough Israel Tour sets on hand. Professionally taped by Tim Hathaway, the quality is such that portions will be used on the Mysteries of the Bible series on the A&E cable network.
So, if you plan to go to Israel and want a foretaste, or if you went and want a reminder or if you know this is the closest you will get to a tour, these are for you. Now, does that cover everyone?
If you are a user of the internet, you owe it to yourself to visit our website. We get more compliments about the site than I do about my suspenders (braces) and certainly more than I get for my strikingly good looks (smile).
The site, maintained by Jerry and Connie Asher, is easy to navigate and filled with items you will want to keep and share. All are there for the taking.
The site is also the best place to get a good look at the teaching materials we offer. You can see color presentations of our posters and shirts as well as the books.
Plus, as a wonderful bonus, Jerry has arranged for you to download our posters as screen savers. Trust me, folks, they are beautiful.
Plus, you can listen to our Saturday radio program on the site. We are working on even more dramatic items for you. Stay tuned!
With myself and my wife Ada, Dave and Audrey Bjur and Clyde Erwin give us a five-member team working together at Servant Quarters. I often feel guilty about how hard they have to work. We constantly search for better ways to do what we do so as to make the best use of time.
Through the generosity of some friends, we are well equipped for what we are now doing. As part of that attempt to decrease paperwork we have finally joined the plastic revolution and now accept credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) for your orders. The tedious work of billing has virtually disappeared for which we are grateful.
Further, this makes it easy to make payment for foreign orders. Sending money is risky and accepting checks in foreign currency is exorbitantly expensive.
Only one problem seems to have cropped up. Some people expect to see my name on their billing but instead they see Servant Quarters which they might not recognize. Being internationally unknown has its price.
By now you know that this newsletter is free in more ways than one. We do not do any fundraising. Some marvel at that, but we simply marvel at God's gracious provision. So, you can rest in the knowledge that we do not ask for funds. Nor do we sell your name and address to anyone. You are not a commodity to us.
However, we do ask for two things from you. We are committed to getting the message of the Nature of Jesus to as many as we can. For starters, that means that we desperately want you to at least read The Jesus Style, our flagship book or listen to the audiobook or see the Nature of God videos. Whether you do anything else, that is extremely important to us. That understanding changed our lives and we want that best for you.
Further, one of the main reasons for this newsletter, in addition to informing and simply blessing you, is to encourage you to pray for us. The abundance of the miraculous we see proves to us that you have been praying. Please, please keep it up. Without it we are spiritually paraplegic.
The manuscript for the Russian edition of The Jesus Style is now in hand. We hope to have it printed by Spring. We will make it economical for you to take the books to Russia with you.
The Albanian edition of The Jesus Style will be printed in the next few months in Albania.
We purchased a large quantity of The Jesus Style in Spanish and you can have them for $50 for a case of 44. That includes shipping. If you have any missions to Mexico or minister to Spanish speaking people, now you have a great new tool. Please call us.
The Chinese translation is underway. Please pray for its completion and distribution.