Fear far exceeds faith in prompting the actions of man. Fear is a favorite and powerful force for the manipulators of this world. No one escapes its bondage. If you want an interesting insight into your own soul, get a group of children talking about what they fear.
I can recall a myriad of fears, mostly unfounded, in my childhood that kept me from many of the joys I should have had. Overhearing the talk of my parents during World War II, my greatest fear was that they might take my father away in the draft. I had no idea what the "draft" was, but I knew that it made people disappear.
I loved the small forest behind our house and the creek that ran through it; however, it became off-limits to me because a kid six years older than I threatened me. He said he could press a spot on his arm cast and send snakes running to get me if I wandered again into his private domain. Lacking the knowledge to scoff at this statement, I floundered in the irrational world that feeds the fears of childhood. I remember that event as I think of the territorial threats and wars that engulf commerce and nations.
Some valid, usable fears, well founded, also shaped my life. I feared the street. The trucks and cars that whizzed by were obviously larger than I. Good fear. I also feared the inevitable punishment that I would receive if I disobeyed my parents. Good fear. Unfortunately, that fear was not strong enough to produce unerring righteousness, but it certainly helped enough to protect the neighborhood from destruction. I also came to fear the shame that my unrighteous actions would produce. Being the son of a preacher, I realized by the age of five that I was my father's richest source of illustrations, often to my embarrassment. Good fear, nonetheless.
From well-meaning people I suffered three direct spiritual fears in my younger days. Most of all, I feared missing the Rapture of the Church. No one ever assured me I would make it. Indeed, the question, "Would you want to be doing that when Jesus comes?" served as an effective preventative.
Fear of demon possession formed my second fear. Once again, boiling adolescence fell prey to the manipulation of different speakers. Whatever it was that I had or did must be a demon. I didn't know all the arguments against it then.
Finally, I feared that I might have committed the unpardonable sin. Once again, manipulative questions such as, "Are you closer to Jesus than when you got saved? Do you feel stronger about him now than when you were first saved?" were used as proof that something terrible must have happened in my walk with the Lord. My fear of God, until I came to truly know and understand Him, was more like terror, knowing that someday I was going to "get it."
Eventually, with greater understanding of God, that terror gave way to respect and love. The statements of Scripture that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but love, power and a sound mind." and "Perfect love casts out fear. Fear has torment. Whoever has fear has not been perfected in love." were statements that created some anxiety in me because of the clash of those statements with my terror. Finally, I truly saw Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. The plug was pulled on terror. It was all so obvious and logical. The upshot of all of this is that I, now armed with greater understanding, determined to be an instrument of fearlessness in the lives of others.
Now, I realized that the only fear worthwhile was the fear of anything that might weaken or remove my relationship with God. This brings me back to my earliest statement about fear being such a motivator. The fear of a harmed relationship with God is not the greatest motivator of mankind; the fear of man is. Jesus warned us not to fear those who could merely harm the body, but those who could kill the soul. When I see men of faith purposely using fear about our future or livelihood to move and manipulate people, alarm bells go off in my heart.
We "religious conservatives" fall prey to many conspiracy theories, right and left. Fear generates an independent life for any perceived threat. My teenage years coincided with the McCarthy era when we thought communists were coming out of water pipes and lived in our attics. I recall a famous tent evangelist who promised to reveal to us the biggest communist in America, but we had to have tickets for that night, though they were free. He asked that we be discreet in sharing the tickets. Good ploy there.
After a forgettable sermon, he finally revealed whom he determined to be the biggest communist—Kate Smith, who sang "God Bless America" so beautifully. I went home that night with a fair share of disgust, but I also realized that the biggest fundraisers at that time on Christian radio were those who effectively made us afraid of communists and who assured us that if we sent them an offering, they (imagine that) would lead the parade in stopping the devilish influx of communism. I wished that someone merely preaching the gospel would be so successful.
Further, I have discovered that that trend continues to exist. A procession of fearable opponents wait (always) just beyond the horizon to end our way of life. Food grown differently from horse-drawn plows will kill you. Be afraid. Water from your public source will kill you. Be afraid. Cholesterol will kill you. Be afraid. Lack of cholesterol will kill you. Be afraid. The Trilateral Commission will kill you. Be afraid. The Illuminati will kill you. Be afraid. UFOs will kill you. Be afraid. Angel-produced giants will kill you. Be afraid. Computers will kill you in the year 2000. Be afraid.
How long can this list go? Endlessly. Why do we cherish fear? When the Y2K problem passes, what will be our next fear? Must we keep reinventing conspiracies? Or perhaps, live in the peace of knowing that God has made arrangements for us?
Long ago, I decided that I would no longer dedicate any mind time to such scary theories. I heard clearly the call of Jesus to come to him and He would give me rest. At least the Saduccees knew that He was afraid of no man. I long ago decided that my work was to obey his call and encourage and train his people. I long ago realized that my job was to be where people are and give them hope of redemption.
I invite you to rest in the knowledge of His care. Any current fear is meaningless compared to the glorious opportunity to be His agent among the people. Of all the people in the world, we have the greatest reason to be fearless.
Fear is being self-centered. Fear is bondage. Jesus' instructions were to "Go" and "Go unafraid." Let us be wise and prudent and fearless and free.
— Gayle Erwin
A Tribute to the Odd Couple
A Big Wind Comes from California
This poem was written by Charles and Susan Giles after a conference in the Carolinas.
This breeze began in California,
El Nino was its source...
And when it hit the Carolinas,
It blew at mostly Gayle-force!
This breeze, of which I am speaking,
Blew for a three-day span,
It came from a pastor-scholar,
And a round and strange little man!
They made a unique little duo...
This California pair....
The scholar was vertically challenged,
And the prophet? He had no hair!
Dynamic and filled with conviction
As back and forth they switched...
The scholar, so wry and incisive,
And the prophet whose eyebrows twitched!
With humor, love and devotion...
And what a contrast in style,
Hot air coming forth from Gayle Erwin
Cool breezes from Damian Kyle!
Damian spoke of God's faithful,
Who've struggled from age to age...
And before he finished his teaching...
God's Word just rose from the page!
And Gayle, the suspend-ered prophet
Taught well about the "Prayer."
He'd be the perfect teacher,
If only he had hair.
This wind, both strong and gentle...
Blew constant from the start,
And before three days were over,
It flattened each believer's heart.
This wind didn't start in California,
Or some other exotic sod...
This wind was the Holy Spirit,
And it came from the heart of God.
A personal apology from Charlie Gills to his favorite "peripatetic raconteur"
(or was that "pathetic racketeer"?):
You showed us the nature of Jesus
Better than anybody can,
So forgive the remarks about your hair,
'Cause I really love ya, man!
Greetings from Chile. Recently we were given a wonderful contribution to our missionary work down here, a case of The Jesus Style in Spanish. At first we were giving them away to key people in our ministry. After that they wanted to give out copies to their friends as well. It ended up causing more than one elder to re-evaluate many things going on in the local churches down here (churches frozen in time by men's traditions) and has now even left that church in search of a more Christ centered relationship.
Our home Bible studies have turned into a kind of hospital for men to heal their spiritual wounds and your book has proven to be a part of that healing process. Needless to say, the last few books were so much in demand that it was difficult to know who to give them to. Fortunately, just this last spring we received another donation of more books.
It would be an indescribable blessing to have you come and speak to our group along with other local church members who would be revolutionized in their thinking. Chile is very stable politically and economically although we know that you often go to less desirable places.
Alejandro Alonso and Family
Chile, South America
Reader's Digest has just done its 3rd article on the '96 flood...more coming. The writer didn't want to include all the miracles and references to God. What will make the story more interesting is realizing that the two families it is about and pictured there both accepted Christ through the witness of Craftsmen for Christ.
Yuba City, CA
You'll never know how much being introduced to, "The Nature of Jesus" has meant to everyone in our family, Yes!! teenagers included. You've been in our home for so long, we feel you're part of the family and you are, Christ's family.
Reg and Judy Lambkin
I just received your book, That Reminds Me of a Story, and I have enjoyed reading it. Your personal anecdotes are greatly appreciated. Thanks for sharing some of your heart and life (and the special people you have known). I laughed, I cried, I worshipped the Lord! I will read more and use the illustrations often.
My wife and I have the pleasure of homeschooling our three kids, Justin 11, Jessi Lynn 9 and Katie Lynn 8. And it is my pleasure to start each day with a half-hour Bible study. About three months ago we broke our routine to study The Jesus Style. We finished last week. It was great! The kids, my wife and myself really enjoyed ourselves. I have read your book a half-dozen times but I never enjoyed as much as this. Keep spreading the Jesus Style.
Pat & Sheri Lynn Essian & Family
Bad Axe, MI
I want you to know how much I enjoy your radio broadcast. I get to listen to you every Sunday morning as I go to church and it peps me up and makes me laugh as I do my best to be awake for the long ride to my church.
I listen to you on WCVK out of Bowling Green, KY, and was very happy to hear that they are now giving a whole half hour of your message instead of those little bits that would leave me wanting to hear more! I hope you make your way to the Bowling Green area again.
Bowling Green, KY
I will be in Bowling Green at the end of October.
I listen to you on WCVK in Bowling Green, KY. As a 44 year-old wife and mother of 2, I appreciate both your style and content! It is so refreshing to hear your unique delivery and respond with much needed laughter!! But then, it is equally rewarding to hear your well-thought-out message and find that I can remember so much of what you say because of the humor involved. Don't ever stop!!
Bowling Green, KY
I was having a difficult day of home schooling and constant disciplining, it seemed, of my son. Shortly after I cried out to the Lord, I found your newletter in the mail. How blessed I was! The Lord washed me and made me smile and laugh until even my son, who was on time out in the corner, asked why I was laughing. God is so good. He knows just what we need when we need it!
I work at Boeing in Wichita, Kansas and I have access to the net but before I can actually locate anything that I would like to look at, my 40 minutes is over. I had my paster, Mark Fry of Arkansas City Calvary send me a good address so I could go right to it on my lunch break and he sent me yours. I am really enjoying the truths of God and the humor. I am on this computer all day but when it comes to getting on the net, I usually am at a loss. I am not technologified (pronounce that one).
I started your book (That Reminds Me of a Story) on the train this morning and it started me weeping so I put it away. Being of the female gender, crying tends to smear whatever chemicals are on our face, so I'll wait till I'm on the way home.
I just noticed you have a trip to Israel this year and I am interested in more information.
Yes, this is the last call for Israel this year.
I have read your book, The Jesus Style, for the first time. I have been moved to search my own heart and motives. I realized, through this "system of things", I have not changed in many areas of my life. On the other hand, my heart strings have been tugged to go back to my first love. I didn't quite understand this until now. At least I have now a starting point. Child like.
St. Helens, OR
Thank you so much brother, for your ministry at the Federal Correctional Institute here in Lompoc. Thank you for your ministry to the Lompoc Valley Ministerial Alliance. The men at the prison really enjoyed your ministry. Many of them had their eyes opened and became excited about learning the Nature of Jesus. Many of them now have a freedom and enjoyment in the Lord that they did not have before.
Now that we have greater personal acquaintance with you we will be better able to pray for you and your ministry.
Chaplain Bruce & Bev Newkirk
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your participation at the Irish Pastors and Leaders Conference. I know that it may have seemed strange at first but the Irish were waiting for the other shoe to drop. They couldn't believe that all that they were experiencing was free. By lunch on the last day, the ice finally broke.
I believe that what you shared was exactly the right thing. The feed back that we have gotten is very positive. We have already been asked to teach some groups of pastors in the city center in July when we go back.
Additionally, there were a couple of men who really want to hear more (more teaching tapes in general and more about the model). Our goal has always been to see men and women won to the Lord and secondly to minister to the churches and see them strengthened if possible. I believe that the conference really helped in that regard.
Pastor Stephen Smith
As a 19-year-old I will be going to Ghana, West Africa with LifeLine Missions. Included in my acceptance packet was your "Tourist or Teacher" pamphlet. I just wanted to take the time to personally thank you for opening my eyes to a few things I otherwise might not have thought of until I arrived at missionary training in June. By becoming aware of the cultural differences at such an early stage in the process I can work on adapting myself to the Ghanian culture by stepping out of my American shell in all humility and ultimately by serving my brothers and sisters overseas.
New releases keep getting "gooder and gooder" so you need to hear about a few:
1. John Bonner has developed a 434 page "Daily Discipleship Journal" in paperback that takes you on a daily workbook journey through the entire Bible. It includes morning and evening reading and reactions as well as a prayer guide. Well worth sending $30 to Parousia Publishing, Box 646, Twin Peaks, CA 92391 or calling 1-800-777-7365.
2. Music that makes me want to buy a Walkman! "Heaven" Songs of Applegate. Original, toetappers, incredible variety of sounds and styles, "Get the Message" songs. Send $15 for CD to Applegate Christian Fellowship, 7590 Hwy 238, Jacksonville, OR 97530.
3. "Rock the World" from a Harvest Kids' Praise CD is the kind of songs I want my children to be singing. Joyous, clear. The very thought that children are singing these makes me glad. Yes, it rocks! Send $15 to Harvest Ministries, 6115 Arlington Ave, Riverside, CA 92504.
4. "You Were There" Worship CD of Calvary Chapel South Bay is another CD of original songs that sends your mind into reverie with mellow, clear, true worship. $15 to Calvary Chapel Music, 9725 W 50th Ave, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.
5. Calvary Chapel of Ft. Laudedale, FL shares their awesome talent and spirit in "Come Jesus Come." More glorious originals. Call 954-977-9673 ext. 245 or www.calvaryftl.org.
6. For the Love of Mike, an update book by Sherwood Wirt about Mike MacIntosh, is an inspiring history/biography. You will enjoy it. Hard cover. Call 619-277-4991.
Servant Quarters is a newsletter and ministry dedicated to teaching the Nature of Jesus. This is done by travel speaking, books, tapes, radio and other writing.
This newsletter is free for the asking. You can contact us at:
Gayle D. Erwin
P. O. Box 219Cathedral City, CA 92235
Phone: (760) 321-0077
Fax: (760) 202-1139
Web site: www.servant.org