Gayle Erwin's Newsletter
April, May, 1998 Newsletter
IF PEOPLE MATTER
One thing discerned: God loves people!
If I understand that, then all my actions and leanings change. God has not love for buildings. God is not impressed with governments. God is not intimidated by nations. He loves people!
Since that is true, the questions follow:
What am I doing that indicates my love for people? What am I doing that would indicate I love buildings and governments better? What political positions have I taken that indicate greater love for things and money than people? (By the way, when was the last time you felt a politician did what was right rather than go for the money of lobbyists?)
What racial and ethnic feelings do I have that do not match God's love for people?
What missions support do I give that indicates that I love people? In my love of prosperity, do I approve oppression?
How important is my position to me? Would I be jealous if someone else had it?
Am I sold on my system? Is it "my denomination right or wrong"? Do I ever pray, "Lord give me the same love for people that you have"?
These questions coursing through my mind cause me to take note of some situations where people are more important than anything else. For instance: When church buildings are simply designed to serve people rather than honor the designer. When churches send their best to other places to minister. When giving is dedicated to going rather than the horrible mortgages of "If you build it, they will come."
I observe Gospel for Asia whose approach is to get the Gospel to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. This view moves them to support native missionaries, ten to twenty of whom can be sent for the cost of one missionary we traditionally send from the USA. More than 2000 people are trained at once in more than 20 schools to go and start churches in places where there are none.
This method forces evaluation of more expensive, sometimes less-effective approaches of some organizations.
But the approach of Gospel for Asia fulfills its goal with unrivaled effectiveness and at a cost far less than anything else I have observed.
On the other hand, I marvel at the story of a 23-year-old from the USA who felt called to an African country. Seeking the counsel of a missions organization in the USA which had a small work in that country, he received every negative argument possible. Relentlessly, they belittled and discouraged him. Finally he packed his bags and called a nearby pastor whom he knew to be solid and asked that he come and rescue him from the discouraging tirade.
With nothing but his desire to obey God and with minimal sponsorship, he journeyed to this small, highly troubled, country taking his new wife into the most dangerous of circumstances.
Faithfulness (attached to the high drama of narrow escapes) enabled him in just a short time to reach an amazing number of people and start several churches.
I protect his identity here for several reasons, but marvel that his love for people gave him what my old football coach called "reckless abandon." Since people mattered, he threw himself on the call and grace of God. That was enough.
I have seen many other people gladly live in deprivation just to start a church or go to a foreign country for God. No pictures on TIME, no Academy Awards, no Nobel prizes come to them, here, but I await their incredible honor some day.
With increasing prosperity in our country, the natural tug is to do two things: First, to make sure we stay close to home and enjoy all the fruit of our ease and ease of our fruit. Second, we tend to look for ways to keep more of what we have.
The supernatural tug is to rejoice that our fruitfulness opens more doors to go for the glory of God and, second, to make sure that our giving exceeds our prosperity since we have long-since made enough to meet our needs
Without question, we will choose the supernatural...if people matter.
— Gayle D. Erwin
Many people call, write or approach me to say they pray regularly for me, in some cases, daily. The following letter is from a lady, the wife of an Anglican Rector, whom God urged to pray daily for me beginning at a DTS in Kona, Hawaii back in 1987. I am truly grateful for such faithfulness.
My commitment to pray daily for you, your ministry, your family, and whatever else God directed me to pray for you, has been a blessing to me, too, over these past ten years.
I remember thinking with wonder in our 1987 Crossroads at Kona, "You mean every
day, Lord?" when He put you on my heart. How could I have known what blessing
would follow obedience and what a joy this call would be!
Joani (and John) Morrett
The trip to Israel was truly "awesome." It took a miracle. I casually mentioned
to my friend "a desire of my heart was to go to Israel." Little did I know that
the Lord heard me and granted me the desire of my heart! Praise the Lord!
Thank you for speaking at the Atlanta Pastor's Conference. You truly blessed
our socks off. You had a profound effect on my teenage son. He has always
been a sort of "closet comic" around his closest friends. Seeing you use
humor and antics (antics?) to further God's Kingdom has opened his eyes to
he never thought of before. He loves the Lord but his shyness has always
been a hindrance in sharing his faith. Maybe now he will find his own way
to do it.
We have written to you before, just to thank you for your ministry and for your exposition of the Word of God. Our children listen to your tapes and they grow in the Word each time, learning more and more Scripture. It is such an incredible joy to us that they grow in God as they laugh and listen.
We probably stand in different places on "theological" type issues--we have a very reformed orientation--but we stand together on the importance of the Word of God--understanding it and putting it into use in our lives every day...the importance of trying to live like Jesus did and do what He did--this being the obvious definition of what is "good."
We try very hard to use our resources to help in any way to further the understanding
of the Gospel and God's love.
Gregory and Berta Myers
Thanks so much for your article "Disillusionment." It is so true. As we grow
older, we see how things and people around us change and disappoint. If we
don't have our lives firmly grounded in Jesus, it can be a disaster; but if
we will always have hope. (Jer 29:11) He gives us a reason to look for a
bright future. He enables us to stretch and grow. He is the only hope that
Shawn Kay Gray
I'm writing to you about the Humor and the Parable sections of your Web site.
I find them very tasteful and fun to read. Please keep them coming.
Sharier (age 14)
I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your Web site. It
is very funny, informative, and also makes so much sense. I can really
relate to it. Please update it frequently so our family can enjoy more and
and meaningful words in your great way of putting things.
I was really ministered to by the Holy Spirit all during your message,
confirming to me that the things He had been showing me and the fear
He had been dispelling from my life over the past two weeks was NOT too
to be true. I had simply been wearing the wrong yoke!
Since then, my sons, Jeremiah and Jon, and I have been reading various
sections of your Web site as part of our evening family devotions. We
have been reading through all of Jesus' parables lately and now have
of your parables to our nightly time together.
Of course, we had to read all the humor first! Thanks so much.
(age--none of your business!)
San Clemente, CA
What a life-changing experience it has been for me to have been handed a copy of the book The Jesus Style by a fellow minister, recently. All the answers to attitudes I did not need to have.
How wrong we have all been in bringing world-based leadership into the precious body of Christ. Thank you for telling the truth that we all knew deep in our hearts had to be, because there was no cross that bites so deep until our very nature had to change.
For me, it has been the death to the nature of my motivations that has become
so highlighted in reading over and over your book. I have been handed many other
books to read recently, but cannot find the urge to pick them up until I have
fully grasped the principles in your book.
I was raised a "Bible Thumpin'" Fundamental Baptist and have been searching
for some reality to God that goes beyond attacking every one that doesn't
think exactly like me. In my search God has been bountifully gracious in revealing
himself to me. One way he has done that is through a little book that Bob
gave to me The Jesus Style. Thank you!!!
Vero Beach, FL
Last Summer, we took the family camping in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania. It rained most nights, but one particular night, we had a roaring thunderstorm so that we really had nothing else we could do but go into the tent and wait.
So, I started reading your book, That Reminds Me of a Story, out loud to my family. All six of us huddled around a small light with the thunder and lightning competing with the stories.
But we had a great time laughing and crying together. This was especially great, because it was our last vacation before my oldest daughter went off to college.
Toms River, NJ
I have decided it is not in my best interest to drink any kind of liquid (especially carbonated kinds) while listening to your tapes. Have you ever had to laugh right when you're about to swallow? You should place a warning label on your material.
I am hoping you can shine some insight on this subject "Forgiving." I read your article on forgiveness (which was awesome), but friends have said to me time and time again, you might forgive, but don't forget. I always told them if you don't forget you don't forgive. I need help with this if you would please. Are we capable of forgetting? Or am I just fooling myself?
Only God seems to be able to forget sins. I am convinced that our Creator built us so that everything that ever happens to us is registered there in memory. We never forget, although we have trouble with recall.
So, forgiving does not mean forgetting; it means that we have chosen to erase its effects on us. We have chosen to treat the transgressor with the mercy and grace that God gives to us. That others-centered action on our part changes the transgressor and us.
When Jesus said to love our enemies, pray for them, do good to them, he was giving the most phenomenal pattern for our health and freedom. He did not say forget. One can love, pray and do good without forgetting but not without forgiving. - Gayle
I appreciated your viewpoint on forgiveness. Here are some favorite quotes I've collected on God's forgiveness and our salvation:
The wonder is not that He withholds mercy from some, but that He should be gracious to any.
J. I. Packer
People must be told--salvation is all of God and not at all of themselves.
Man cannot be saved by perfect obedience of God's law, because he cannot render it.
Man cannot be saved by imperfect obedience, for God will not accept it.
J. Vernon McGee
Forgiveness cannot be earned by the offender. Forgiveness can only be a gift of the offended.
The Lord gave me this last one as I was dealing with a person about the price paid by Christ for our salvation:
"Why would God pay Himself?" they demanded. God gave the one word--forgiveness. He wanted us to see how much we hurt Him by rejecting His gift. He gave us a visible sign that He has forgiven us. He is Free!
We are just finishing up a series on prayer of the Bible, realizing that if we expect our prayers to be answered, we have to spend enough time with the Father to know what He wants to do. It seems like His formula is Listen, Understand, Pray, Watch Him work. Pretty fascinating.
I was reading along in The Jesus Style, and I read something that absolutely rocked me: ". . . these pages describe the God of all creation. God and his Son are servants, . . ." What an amazing concept!
That the Son came to serve is obvious, and that the Son reveals the nature of the Father is apparent. But I had never made the logical connection that the Father must be a servant. Who would He serve? Angels? No, they serve Him. Himself? Seems illogical. The answer must be His creation, the objects of His love.
He serves us.
Talk about something that explodes my view of God! It has set my head to spinning, and sent me searching the Scriptures to see if they can/should be reinterpreted in view of a God who serves His loved ones. What about God's vengeance, His wrath, etc.? What about hell and eternal punishment?
As you can see, I have some thinking, praying, and studying to do.
Wayne and Carol Wolaver handed me the following excerpt from Oswald Chambers on Matthew 19:14 that well expresses the desire of Servant Quarters:
Jesus Christ uses the child-spirit as a touchstone for the character of a disciple. He did not put up a child before His disciples as an ideal, but as an expression of the simple-hearted life they would live when they were born again.
The life of a little child is expectant, full of wonder, and free from self-consciousness, and Jesus said, "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
How many of us thought about how we should live before we were born? Why, none. But numbers of people try to think of how to live as Christians before they are born again. "Do not marvel that I said to you. 'You must be born again,'" that is, become as little children, with openhearted, unprejudiced minds in relation to God.
The most seriously minded Christian is the one who has just become a Christian; the mature saint is just like a young child, absolutely simple, and joyful and gay. Read the Sermon on the Mount: "Do not worry," (that is, have no care) "about your life." The Christianity of Jesus Christ refuses to be careworn.
Our Lord is indicating that we have to be carefully careless about everything saving our relationship to Him. Fuss is always a sign of fever. A great many people mistake perspiration in service for inspiration in devotion. The characteristic of a man who has come to God is that you cannot get him to take anyone seriously but God
To Each His Own
by Hank Simon
I cannot change the way I am,
I never really try,
God made me different and unique,
I never ask him why.
If I appear peculiar,
There's nothing I can do,
You must accept me as I am,
As I've accepted you.
God made a casting of each life,
Then threw the mold away,
Each child is different from the rest,
Unlike as night from day.
So often we will criticize,
The things that others do,
But, do you know, they do not think,
The same as me and you.
So God in all his wisdom,
Who knows us all by name,
He didn't want us to be bored,
That's why we're not the same.
Remembering the "Strange Fire" piece you ran in your newsletter I thought you would appreciate this!
BAFFLED BY EXTINGUISHING OLYMPIC TORCH
Sometimes things just won't go right, even when you have the Gods of ancient Olympia on your side. Take the "sacred" flame for the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano - it kept going out. Not once, not twice, but at least half a dozen times in the traditional torch relay through Japan to Nagano. The embarrassment became front page news in Japan and television networks called in experts of all kinds to explain what might be wrong. The guesses ranged from high winds to faulty gas supplies in the torches to runners holding the thing the wrong way.