May, June 1995 Newsletter

Froth and Bubble

Vocabulary begins the basic problem. Whoever defines the words can do to you anything he wants. So, now the subject. They call it "holy laughter" or being "slain in the Spirit" or the "Toronto blessing" or a "refreshing." By giving the activity these fine-sounding names, it gives acertain acceptability to it all and makes anyone who questions sound as if they are opposing the Holy Spirit.

It is unfortunate that we even use their terminology. The words should be changed to "orchestrated laughter" and "religious fainting" and the "Toronto event" and "distraction." If the definitions are questioned as much as the theology, we are less likely to be fooled. I speak of this phenomenon (and if you don't know what I am speaking about, relax) only because confusion reigns, the press is timid and wreckage is strewn in its wake.

A dear friend related to me the wise words of a mentor of his after he became a Christian in England. When he wondered at the excitement surrounding such experience-centered things, his mentor would tell him it was only "froth and bubble." I'm only sorry you can't hear the British accent in the written words, but the description is appropriate.

As you may be aware from the media or from friends or your own experience, a new phenomenon of uncontrolled laughter along with other physical manifestations such as barking, growling, roaring, bouncing, etc., is pouring out, especially from Toronto, and has captured a number of people and churches. It virtually rules England. How can we view this from the Nature of Jesus standpoint?

It appears that we have a religious movement whose whole emphasis is physical reactions rather than Jesus Himself.

Whose Flesh?

Official statements admit that a lot of what is going on is flesh, but you can expect that when the Holy Spirit moves. Indeed, they defend fleshly actions as having occurred in revivals and churches in the past. Three things are missing from their explanations. First, the fleshly action is as much, if not more, on the part of the leaders as on the receivers. Their manipulative and "power of suggestion" methods have not been properly examined. It seems that people only look at the fleshliness of the respondees, which can be bizarre enough.

Far from being spontaneous, the leaders orchestrate the response of the people. Apparently they instruct you step-by-step how to laugh or how to have a fleshly reaction. Some most embarrassing shows are occurring on British television from Anglican priests who must be desperate for anything to happen. If you resist their suggestions, you are asked, "Don't you want everything God has for you? Are you going to tell the Holy Spirit what he can't do? Why not just let us pray for you?" These are dilemma questions just like the "Should we pay taxes to Caesar?" question asked of Jesus or asking "Have you quit stealing?" Unfortunately, even mature Christians do not always spot the manipulation and arrogance of such questions. Who are they to decide what the Holy Spirit will do from their perspective?

The second item missing is that nowhere does the Bible tell you to expect the action of the Holy Spirit to increase fleshliness. Maybe this is why few call the current activity a "revival" though called by some "preparation for revival." Only those who push this fleshliness come to that conclusion. From a Biblical standpoint, the reasoning escapes me.

The third thing missing is that isolated phenomena (especially uncontrolled laughing) of the past are not valid means of spiritual authentication. Indeed, to claim it valid because it occurred in the ministry of such as Wesley is not telling you the whole story. Wesley, from his journal, considered such action as an attack of Satan himself on Christians.

I want to see God moving effectively among us as much as anyone, but I would expect certain things to be true if God were the originator. We know that God is committed to his Word and to the evangelization of the world. When neither of these can be identified with a movement, don't beg the question by saying, "The Holy Spirit can do whatever he wants." One form of fleshliness on the part of the leaders is to hide behind that misunderstanding. The Holy Spirit can and will do only those things congruent with the Truth of Scripture and with the Nature and predictions of Jesus.

Examining this phenomenon through the Nature of Jesus is what finally moves me to write so strongly. From what I have observed, seeking this experience has a certain self-centeredness to it. People seek releases through this activity that God has reserved for his Word and faith in his Word or for confession. Participants admit several things readily: First, it is the seeking of a "blessing." Second, this "blessing" is not bringing people into the kingdom of God. Third, this "blessing" does not include teaching or learning the Bible. Indeed, evangelism and teaching are spoken of with some disdain by those who began and push the "uncontrolled laughter" system.

A lady approached me one evening at a church where I was speaking and asked me if I had heard about what was going on in Toronto and what I thought. I told her I had heard a number of things, not all of them positive. Her response? "Well, sometimes you must insult the mind in order to change the heart." I said that I have problems with that statement. Her response? As she walked away, "I know, I know. You are going to say that is not in the Bible!" She had me pegged right, but she also revealed more of the buzzwords coming from the originators.

Fish Shift

Although this activity seems to be filling churches in numerous places, it is not new growth of the kingdom. It seems merely to be similar shifts of the same fish from aquarium to aquarium we have seen in recent history, since people are not becoming Christians. I keep hearing about people being "on fire" now, but I'M not hearing about what that fire is actually producing, yet. Further, this activity has virtually destroyed hard-won unity in some countries. Those who push the phenomenon, push hard. Those who resist being pushed begin to view it as insanity. If only we would push for those things Jesus told us to push for. When we obey Jesus by evangelizing and teaching, then "The wisdom from above ... is easy to receive." Finally, through my own years of intimate observation of things churchy, I have become very sensitive to any form of manipulation by those who say they speak in behalf of God. Jesus is reality and he needs no one to promote his reality by unloving methods. My limited personal observation but extensive research indicates that an unbelievable amount of intimidation, manipulation and power-of-suggestion permeates this movement.

As I watched a session on television, I felt that I was listening to a very mean-spirited person browbeat any who might come with genuine Biblical questions or with any form of resistance, even simply honest, but hungry questioning.

I read an article by a man who reacted very negatively to what he observed in this "movement" even calling it demonic. Then (in spite of his best judgment) submitted himself to being "prayed for" by those whom he thought demonic. Amazing! His beginning discernment was abandoned to forces he had not examined. Once someone is prayed for and "something" happens, many followers resort to the statement "The flesh will always get involved in such moves." Amazing!

What Will Happen Next?

Reports to me from some cool heads and warm hearts who checked the scene out personally indicate that "flesh" is the only thing that is operative at this scene. So, we have not been getting the full story. We have only heard from the advertisers. As light is shined on this activity, here is what I believe will happen:

1. Since this is purely an experiential event, people will finally tire of it as they do of the top popular songs and will discard it.

2. Some will regain their senses and realize they have been taken.

3. Many who realize this as fleeting, will become disillusioned and will disappear back into the woodwork, loving God but intensely fearing "church."

4. We will go through a period of dryness because experience orientation demands higher levels of excitement and nothing exceeds the absurdity of what is going on now.

5. Those churches who simply carefully teach the Bible and worship God and love people will continue to grow as if nothing of this nature ever happened. I only pray that the disillusioned will discover the safety of such a church.

6. Those who refuse to gain their faith from the Word of God will go on to another physical phemenon and flesh exciter. Who knows what might be next.

But What About?

Yes, some will be blessed and, yes, some will grow in the Lord. For that, I am grateful. However, if all of this is so off-base, how could anything good come out of it? Simple. God does respond to hungry hearts. God does respond to genuine faith. In the past, I have seen good things come out of the ministry of charlatans. It was not because of the charlatans, it was because of the grace of God.

God is so secure that he can and does bless people who seek him even if God is misunderstood and misrepresentated in the process. However, I don't want to stand before God someday and be asked why I misrepresented, so, once again, I urge us to fix our eyes on Jesus! Let us examine all things through His eyes and through Scripture. No matter how good the people who use them or how many "success" stories may come out of them, if they violate the Nature of Jesus in any way, be extremely cautious.

Servant Quarters is published bi-monthly (that's our goal) by Gayle D. Erwin and is offered free to anyone who requests it or who orders any of our teaching materials.

Servant Quarters
PO Box 219
Cathedral City, CA 92235
FAX 760-202-1139

You are contagious!

One day (Easter of last year) you gave our Easter Sunrise Service and met us back at church to give your testimony at Sunrise, Florida. When you were giving your testimony, you had such a wonderful joy about you that I knew it was the joy of the Lord. I was so uplifted and attracted to that joy.

I'M generally a pretty shy person and many things go through my mind before I meet someone new. I thought, "I bet this guy isn't as joyful as he acts up there behind the pulpit." Then, as I shook your hand and said "Hi" you were as joyful and funny as before and so glad to make my acquaintance that my whole day was changed.

I was joyful to people that day, too. So, you see, you are contagious, and God shows me that if I am joyful and make that fruit present in my everyday life, I can make a positive chain reaction among the brothers and be a powerful light to nonbelievers.

Lisa Arnold
Sunrise, FL

Much water has flowed under the bridge since we met in Brentwood, TN. Still, I have maintained contact through Servant Quarters and your books.

God has wonderfully blessed, and I am able to write full time. Thomas Nelson Publishers recently released an updated edition of Charles Haddon Spurgeon's Morning and Evening that I edited. A copy is enclosed, along with the prayer that it will bless you as your ministry has blessed me. If Spurgeon were still with us, he would heartily endorse The Jesus Style.

Roy H. Clarke
Quincy, MA

Thought you would like to know of another application of The Jesus Style. Here in Blue Island we've taken the fourteen characteristics of the Nature of Jesus and applied them to marriage in our Marriage Enrichment Bible Studies. We've usually examined them one characteristic at a time, although we have combined a couple of the characteristics into one study as they apply specifically within the bond of Christian marriage.

They certainly generate lively discussion as they bring husband and wife to the realization of how often we fall short of what God would have us to be with our marriages. By God's grace we move forward!

Richard Grom
Blue Island, IL

I love your newsletter. It makes me understand my husband better as I realize other men have similar hurts struggles and fears as well as joy, encouragements and blessings. If it is true that behind every Godly man there's a woman on her knees, then your wife must be awfully special and have scabs on her knees.

I'M sure I speak for many women when I say I have been blessed by the changes in my husband's life after your retreat, tapes and books. Why don't you make ball caps to match your shirts?

D. Sprans
Las Vegas, NV

Why I don't make Jesus Style suspenders and ball caps, etc? Can't get enough of the message on them to warrant producing them. I don't have enough luggage space, storage, or desire to keep track of it all. Maybe someday.

You wrote about forgiveness and my son-in-law showed it to me. I read it over and over. Your message was like a Godsend.

At the time, I was suffering from depression from what someone had done to me. Your message was so good to hear, it spoke to my soul. I passed it around and even made a copy for some of my friends. Can't thank you enough.

A Friend
Buena Park, CA

Do you, Mickey, promise to the best of your ability, to be like minded with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in continually offering Terry encouragement, comfort, love and fellowship with tenderness and compassion? Do you promise to serve and honor Terry, to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, not demanding your own way; but rather, in humility, to consider Terry before yourself, looking not solely to your own interests, but also to her interests?

Terry Monaco and I were married on February 4, 1995. It has been several years since I last had the privilege of calling you my pastor, but your influence during those years has stayed with me to today. You so impressed me with the Nature of Jesus series that you hammered home to us, and particularly the message in Philippians 2:2-11, that I wanted to honor you in some small way at our wedding. It is your teaching and in fluence that lead me to use verses 2-4 of Philippians 2 as a model for the wedding vows that Terry and I made to each other.

After writing the above vows, I read them over and almost changed my mind, because such a vow would be impossible to keep. In fact, it may shock you to know that in one and a half months of marriage, the above vow has already been broken, but not by Terry. I know how surprised you are to hear that. I decided, however, that I would simply have to pick myself up and renew those vows each time I fell.

We are attending Bethel Baptist Church in Santa Rosa and Terry is very involved with helping lead the worship service. We are in a newly formed small group, and I am going to introduce The Jesus Style to them hoping that the group will want to use it as a study guide.

I just wanted to let you know that God sent you at just the right time on my time table. You made Jesus a real person to me and in so doing you basically saved my life. I have never forgotten you or what you taught me.

Mickey Wilson
Santa Rosa, CA

Your March-April newsletter brought such a lift to our home. Thank you!

Now I have to pass it along to our youngest son whose first baby (our 7th grandchild) is due on my 60th birthday, May 25. They were here for Easter dinner and, like usual, he retreated into the video room, popped in one of my videos from you and had a jolly good time. He loves your teaching. I want his attention a bit more and to keep my tapes right here, therefore, please put him on your mailing list and send them a set of your "Ear" offer of 26 tapes along with all the goodies you talked about.

Anna Krippner
Vista, CA

You are certainly an interesting tool, and I presume here not to offend you with that label. In fact, I detect a bit of the old Yankee sensibility about you: not at all ragged, yet well worn all the same and often used, like the big roughing gouge used to give wood its initial shape. That would be the one with the palm-oiled handle worn smooth. There are not too many Yankees left. They must have moved away.

Mathew Millard
Boston, MA

My heart is so full of gratitude to the Lord for sending you this way to bless so many in His church. You make the Word of God so real and easy to grasp. I wish you could have heard my son Zack giving Neal all of your message from tonight. Zack gave him your entire message all about the table, seating chart, power, greetings, footwashing, the fire hose. Zack is really beginning to grow in his own walk with the Lord and the timing of this conference was perfect.

Thanks for sowing into his young life the way you did. He felt very special and cared-about by you tonight. You've made a new friend here on Merritt Island, actually a whole new family of friends!

Neal, Leesa, Shannon, Zack and Katie Spurlock.
Merritt Island, FL

Thank you for the teaching and examples you have so generously shared with me and those in the crisis pregnancy center ministry. I still hear stories regarding changed lives and attitudes due to your teaching. Servanthood is so difficult, it is a much easier concept than practice, and yet you and your lifestyle offer hope to all of us.

I have found being in Christian ministry a crushing, painful, and yet life-changing experience. I am sure I could not tell you anything you have not heard or personally experienced. The Lord used the last seven years of my life to show me His love for me, His purpose for my life, and His never-changing character. In order to grasp those gifts I had to surrender to many expectations and faith in others. Hard stuff.

Leaving my last ministry was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make, and yet it was clearly God's plan for me. I love the women and men in the ministry, their stories, their heartaches, and their unselfish commitment to others. Serving and loving those people is a privilege.

God used that ministry to call me out front from behind the scenes. I did not understand it, sometimes I still don't. I believe God is calling me to continue serving Him through speaking to others regarding our brokenness, and God's unfailing love through the trials. I know He sees us as something very different than we see ourselves.

I hope our paths cross again in the future. Whenever I feel I don't want to face that stage, I remember you and the fun you always have up there. Once I begin to speak, God is in control and all is well, but getting up there is the hard part.

Cheryl Jakubowski
Ashburn, VA

Let me tell you thanks for helping me learn God's word. You came and spoke at my church Calvary Chapel of Golden Springs (Raul Ries). I was once so wrapped up in the "faith movement" and people like Kenneth Copeland and Jimmy Swaggart. I could quote them by heart. I also suffer from epilepsy and these same teachers told me my faith was low and I was not following Jesus' example. I became very confused. I tried to live by faith but didn't have anything to show for it.

I met my wife at Calvary Chapel in West Covina and there the Lord cleared away my confusion. Now, all I want to do is learn the Word and Gods will for me and my wife.

Pray for us. My wife fell and hurt her back, so we need a miracle. Thanks for the way you make the Bible come alive and fresh to me.

Mike Gonzales
La Puente, CA

I just wanted to relate what my brother e-mailed me the night of March 25 from Austin, TX: (and I quote...) "I'VE just returned from the Men's Conference...well...actually...I went to the store and bought some chocolate covered raisins which I never buy...but did so because Gayle Erwin had to talk about them so much during his message that it created an irresistible desire to scarf some down...which I did. Now, I'M eating some steamed fresh green beans...not because I'M hungry but to try and counteract some of the deleterious effects of my pound of chocolate raisins, and also to try to liven up my Saturday night.

Gayle Erwin didn't look anything like I pictured...but he is a super speaker." (I have absolutely no idea what was meant by including the word "but" in that last sentence.)

Nancy Clark
San Clemente, CA

We really like the new format of Servant Quarters. It is very easy to read and full of great stuff. It is a blessing to us to know how God continues to bless your ministry in so many ways in so many places. We pray the Lord will continue to give you the energy needed for this demanding schedule.

Tros and Van Werth
Wilsonville, OR.

Pastor Richard McPherson and Faith Temple Church in Corpus Christi, TX often join in prayer for Servant Quarters. Their newsletter commentary had an article written by Daniel Schantz which I share with you here:

Between Pitches

You can have the World Series. The crowds, the instant replays. The six-million-dollar contracts, the Hall of Fame. I had something better than all of these. I had a father who played catch with me.

He wasn't much to look at, dressed in old torn slacks and a shirt that parted at the navel where a button was missing. On his left hand he wore a plain, flat ball glove that looked like it had been run over by a truck. His smiling face was crowned with shiny black hair combed straight back. But when my father played catch with me, he made me feel like the most important person in the world. After all, my father was a very busy man. Other people had to make appointments with him, but not me.

My father taught me how to throw, but sometimes I got a little too creative. At least half my attempts sailed out of control. I was always embarrassed, but he never complained. He simply trotted across the street to rescue the ball. And when I got a pitch right down the middle, he always let me know I had done well. One side of his mouth would get a special grin that said, "Whitey Ford couldn't have done better." I glowed at the sight of that grin, and in my mind, I could hear the roar of the crowd in the stands.

Some days I didn't feel like setting any records. I just wanted to be with my dad. As the ball glided back and forth between us, I felt very close to my father and found myself opening up to him.

"Dad, why won't Mom let us ride motorcycles?" "Mothers have a nose for danger. Trust your mother." "Where do people go when they die?" "The apostle Paul says that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord." His answers were brief phrases that escaped between pitches. Answers that forced me to think through the questions for myself. I don't think Dad even realized he was teaching me.

"Here, rub some of this Neat's Foot Oil into your glove. It stinks a bit, but it will keep the sun from drying out the leather." "Don't leave the ball out in the rain; it will turn hard as a rock. A new one will cost you two dollars. Money doesn't grow on trees." Now that I'M grown up, I find myself practicing those side yard lessons right along with the Ten Commandments. When I get a little too creative in the classroom and my methods fizzle, I remember how many times Dad chased my overthrows until I learned to control the ball. I'VE learned its more important to spend time with my students just chatting or shooting baskets than it is to drive them to scholastic achievements that will fade with time.

I try to take good care of my equipment. My car has 120,000 miles on it and it looks like new. Money still doesn't grow on trees.

You might think my father's side yard coaching started me on a career in athletics, but it didn't. I "flunked out" of Little League. Too slow. Too awkward. I don't have a single ribbon or trophy for anything I ever did in sports. But down in the basement, above my workbench, I have a rusty can of Neat's Foot Oil, and every time I see it, I hold it tenderly and replay in my mind the happy hours I spent with my father out on the lawn.

You see, I have something better than all the awards in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I have memories of a father who always had time to play catch with me.

Another item I wish to share with you comes from Bill and Wanda Thweatt of Mercy Ships in Lindale, TX. They are dear friends whom I enjoy visiting when I go to teach there.

A Commercial Appeal

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were people who thought you were wonderful no matter how you looked, sounded or smelled?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was someone who liked your way of doing things, listened to every word, and bragged about you to everyone, even total strangers?

Believe it or not, those people exist and have for centuries. The first man and woman to attain this wonderful position were husband and wife and suddenly reached this exalted state when he was 235 years old. This man and woman were Adam and Eve. It happened when their son Seth became a father for the first time. You guessed it! Grand parenthood suddenly issues a person into that super state that all children need.

But that need is often blocked by at least one of the dreaded D's. The first D is death. My wonderful maternal grandfather died two years before I was born.

The next D is distance. My paternal grandparents lived 400 miles away and I saw them only about five times in my life. Then D-1 claimed my paternal grandfather when I was eleven. The third D is divorce. By no choice of grandparents, they often lose contact with their grandchildren.

The fourth D stands for dud. As wonderful as grandparents are, there are a few duds. Now, here is the commercial. If any of you kids are separated from your grandparents for any of the four D reasons or if you just want another set of grandparents, Wanda and I want to apply for the job. We promise to spoil you with the three F's, Food, Fun, and Foolishness!

Bill and Wanda Thweatt
Lindale, TX


Death touched Servant Quarters since our last meeting by newsletter. A dear friend and supporter, Pauline Bouton, is now enjoying her reward. Her husband, Ken, faithfully nursed her through the years past the months the doctors had allowed. I will miss her great heart, impish smile and the loving banter I enjoyed with her.

Kelly and Jeanette Taylor walked through long and difficult days before they lost their young son Jody to cancer. I will miss the physical and verbal scuffle with him on my visits there.

Two teenagers met untimely deaths. First, last fall, Jessica Courson, daughter of Jon and Tammi Courson was lost in an accident. She was a favorite of mine and a personal loss. Often, after my messages at Applegate Christian Fellowship, she would share with me insights about the passage I had taught on that would leave me embarrassed that I had not seen it. Her memorial service was awesome, but the greatest memorial was the number of people who came to know the Lord through her.

The second teenager was close by proxy. A late night phone call (much later for him) came from Steve Taylor (a long-time friend and supporter whose name you will find in the acknowledgments for Spirit Style) informing me of the death of a teenage nephew (more like a son) the day before Easter. Out of Steve's heart came the following expression.

April 15, 1995,

In many ways the hardest day of my life to this point. Nick died. My head aches, throbs. My heart aches...for me, mostly for Brenda and Andrea, and Aaron, Eddie, Bruce, and Kathy and Eric and Sarah and Elmer. I am drained of energy and tired from the week, but mostly I am heartsick. I dread the immediate future, which is yet to be filled up with more tears and a funeral and the realization of how much we miss Nick. Andrea said today, "I already miss him, and I don't know what I will do this summer, because we had made plans to do a lot of things together." Part of me feels rocked to the core, compelled to question the things I had long said I believed. As we sat in the waiting room today, just minutes before the call that Nick's body had surrendered the fight