Gayle Erwin's Newsletter
October, November 1996 Newsletter
Years ago a pastor friend of mine complained to a national
religious/political figure about his discouragement over the moral
activism scene. "The problem," my friend said, "is that many who join
in the political fight are an embarrassment and do not share our goals.
In fact, kooks and immoral people join in this movement. They do
not represent the Jesus that I try to follow."
The leader admitted that this was a major problem. To me, though,
he had hit upon the major problem. An old saying is "Politics
makes strange bedfellows." We assume that our goals are shared by
all political activists in our movement. That simply is not so. I
remind you of something from a past newsletter: There are three rules
that guide all political parties. 1. Get in power. 2. Stay in power. 3.
Increase your power. Any moral stances fall way down the list and
are always submissive to "whatever gets the vote."
Since God's kingdom is not of this world, we will always be naive
in our approach to this world's system. When we speak to one another
as Christians we speak a language and carry an attitude that does
not translate into carnal thinking. We say "values" and they think
"votes." We say "family" and they think "favor." We say "life" and
they think "election." We say "integrity" and they think "influence."
Unfortunately, we don't realize this until we overhear through some
written exposure how we are truly viewed as naive Christians.
My local newspaper provides a laboratory for failed communication.
It carries a regular column by a man who claims to be a minister.
However, he constantly attacks Christianity. I ceased reading his
column when I saw how loosely he played with the truth and how hard
he struggled to misrepresent Jesus and the Bible. His column keeps
the "Letters to the Editor" blazing with Christian response.
Unfortunately, the response is merely defensive and does not directly
address the weakness of the columnist's argument. As I read the letters,
I understand that two different languages and audiences are being
addressed and they cannot be translated for each other. The fervency
and frequency of the response from Christians merely indicates that
this is a popular and read column which guarantees its continuation.
I saw this language and attitude gulf illustrated in the national
party conventions. What we see as the "test," they patronize us with
So, what can we do. First, we must realize again that when Jesus warned
against the "leaven of Herod," among other things, he was warning
us that the governments and systems of this world are not and never
will be our hope, not until we realize the prophecy of Isaiah: "the
government shall be upon his shoulders." Now, I can get excited about
Second, we need to get as many people into that eternal King of Kingsdom
and not be fooled into thinking that if they are Republican then they
are saved and if they are Democrats then they are sinners.
We who follow Jesus simply fight a different fight, march to a different
drummer and look forward to a different hope than the White House.
I join the Apostle John in saying, "come quickly, Lord Jesus."
— Gayle D. Erwin
CHUCK WAGON DAYS
Some events sneak up on you and bless you powerfully before
you have a chance to prepare for it. Such was the case over Labor
Day weekend for me in Midland, Texas. It was a weekend of firsts for
me. Though I had known the pastor, Leonard Cotton and his wife Jan
for years, and we had been planning the weekend for at least three
years, I still wasn't prepared to have as much fun as I did.
This was to be a "Chuck Wagon" weekend. In case that means nothing
to you, the chuck wagon was the roving kitchen that visited the cowboys
and other farm/ranch workers out on the range in the American West.
Distances were too great in these open sky countries to commute back
to the ranch house for food, so the food followed them.
Many of these wagons from the 1800's still exist and have become events
in themselves as people have turned them into gourmet Western kitchens
that travel to special events. Their authenticity demands hard work.
Chopping wood and digging fire pits and handling heavy cast iron pots
and hand-making all foods is not for couch potatoes. I found their
owners to be congenial, energetic, humor-filled and easy to join for
Four of these wagons circled our grounds at a camp near Midland, Texas.
Jim Etheridge and his family came from Colorado Springs to provide
worship and Jeff Gore of Midland, a cowboy poet and singer, provided
an authentic touch to the days. I ate myself into a stupor. Are you
surprised? However, in addition to the joy of the setting and the
opportunity to, once again, share the Nature of Jesus, other discoveries
sent my soul soaring and my fingers to this keyboard.
BAKED BEANS AND BEER
Leonard had been a true cowboy working a South Texas ranch.
He was only twenty at the time and had recently made a commitment
to Jesus Christ, however it was not too deep or too intense a spiritual
life he led. Now, he sat on a railroad tie laid near the chuckwagon
exhausted from the morning's work of herding 600 head of cattle. He
spooned his baked beans and drank tea from a peach can.
A photographer happened to be on the ranch that day and he asked Leonard
if he minded having his picture taken. "It's OK with me as long as
you don't keep me from eating my beans," he answered. For three days,
the photographer went with them taking pictures of Leonard and other
subjects. A few months later, he received a form to sign releasing
the photographer to use the photos and offering $250.
Struggling to pay debts, including medical bills that piled up for
his wife and newborn son, Leonard thought, "$250 would make a hospital
payment." He quickly signed it and sent it off.
Three years passed before it happened and, in the meantime, during
a visit of a famous evangelist, he fully committed himself to the
Lord. Then, one day, a fellow worker told him that his picture was
in bars all over town under the title "Baked Beans and Beer." He then
discovered that the photographer had been commissioned by a major
company to paint a series of cowboy pictures. In using Leonard, he
had replaced the peach can of tea with a can of beer. It became their
most popular picture. Leonard was crushed. He felt that his new life
in Christ was ruined, that he would now become a detriment to the
kingdom and his witness would be destroyed. He spent considerable
time explaining to people that he didn't know this photo would be
used that way.
Turn It Over To Me
Shortly afterward, at the ending invitation of the large Baptist church
he attended, he began to sob uncontrollably. God whispered to him,
"Are you willing to turn that picture over to me? If so, respond to
this call." He lurched to the front, continuing to weep intensely.
He felt that he owed an explanation to the pastor, so he went to him
and told him what was happening. The pastor asked him to tell the
whole church that night, and between sobs the story spilled out. What
he did not know until years later was that his story dramatically
changed the lives of many people there. They realized the value of
their lives and names and the vulnerability of their commitment.
People everywhere began to recognize him and ask if he was the cowboy
in the painting. This opened opportunities to tell about his new life
in Christ. Many came to know the Lord. God was doing a good job with
the picture under His care.
His new deep relationship with the Lord took him to the Calvary Chapel
Bible School at Twin Peaks, CA and then on to a seminary degree from
Southwestern in Dallas. After seminary he and Jan and their baby son
moved to Nebraska to pioneer a Baptist Church. He hoped that no one
would know him and that the painting would not be a detriment. His
anonymity lasted only a few hours. Every bar in town had his picture
on its wall. Soon, a reporter came from Omaha and did a story on him
that hit the front page of a major Omaha newspaper under the title
(slightly erroneously, since he had only briefly carried a pistol
to protect himself from marijuana growers in the outer ranges) "Cowboy
Trades Pistol for Pulpit."
Crowds came to church to hear and see this remarkable story. Conversions
were the order of the day. One very old couple drove from Iowa just
to hear him speak, then, at his questioning, revealed that they were
not Christians but wanted to be. They became!
Because of what was happening, his home church began massive assistance
to help them build a building. After 18 months, they had a building
built and paid for and full of people. But his heart was in Midland,
Texas and they left to go home and plan a church. However, Twin Peaks
came back into his life, this time as a teacher. After a stint there,
the pull of Midland grew too strong and he returned to begin what
is now Country Chapel. The very people he would most want to reach
already know him. They see his picture every time they visit a bar in the
city. And they wonder. Some find out. But Leonard is not the only
one in his family with a story of the remarkable grace of God. Jan
has a story, too.
Jan's mother committed suicide when Jan was 12 years old. The date
of that death, March 20, haunted her for years. She hated Spring because
March 20 was coming. This day became the opposite of a holiday, a
day of depression and pain. The loss of her mother revisited itself
annually, refusing to let her cope with her grief.
You Must Abort
Marriage helped but did not heal the hurt. Soon a child was on the
way in their house, however her body reacted so violently to the pregnancy
that she had to seek medical help for that sickness alone. Her doctor
declared that this sickness was psychological but that her body was
trying to reject the fetus and she should have an abortion.
Unsatisfied with this diagnosis, they went to another doctor who also
said this is psychological but she should get an abortion. A third
and a fourth doctor gave identical advice. In their discouragement,
they began to actually consider that option, painful as it was to
them. Her violent sickness continued reducing her hunger and adding
to the malnutrition of herself and her baby. They decided to try one
more doctor. He examined her more closely and discovered a vitamin
B deficiency and gave her a shot. As they left, she told her husband
that she was ravenously hungry. They promptly went for a steak. Her
sickness was over.
When the baby was delivered, the doctor handed Justin to her and said,
"This is the baby that four doctors told you to abort."
Ah, but I am ahead of myself in this story. God had designed this
moment for multiple victory. Justin was due in early February. When
the day arrived, no indications of birth were forthcoming. Since everything
was healthy otherwise, the doctor said, let's just wait. Days and
weeks rolled by. Jan fretted that this baby was getting too close
to March 20. The last thing she wanted was for the baby to be born
on such a day of pain.
Her distress increased until, sure enough, a remarkably six-week-late
baby was born to them on March 20. She complained to God and others
that this would happen, until she realized that her mourning had now
been turned into joy by her newborn. Gone was the pain and grief.
God has used this baby Justin as a double victory.
Justin has his story, also, but much of it will have to wait. I will
clue you into an expectancy. Before long, you will be singing songs
written by Justin. Awesome. Just about the time you think you have
heard it all, God's Grace shows itself again and I return to the realization
that I am a walking mass of ignorance gleefully awaiting His next
show of power.
Words cannot describe the excitement and joy that the Lord has placed
within me! For the past few weeks I have been exceedingly joyful and
overly blessed – for no specific reason. I have been the most productive
lately, and the feeling of accomplishment is continuing to fill me
with joy. I love what the Lord is doing.
This week alone, I began to direct live TV newscasts – the final
big step there. In the midst, two more Erwin Nuggets are on their
We are continually going back to The Jesus Style
for refreshment and encouragement. My husband Steve owns all of your
tapes and books and even one video. When we take family trips, our
teenaged sons request that we listen to your tapes to pass the time.
I thought you'd like to know teenagers think you are "cool."
Emma and Steve Franklin
Because of your tape series our two sons (20 and 17)
have asked Jesus into their lives. Neither of these boys wanted anything
to do with church, Christianity, anything. But because they began
watching your tapes they became interested in the things of God, and
Jesus did the rest. What a joy to see both our children delivered
safely into the kingdom of God.
Camp Verde, AZ
I have only seen you by video and was tickled pink to come across
your webpage and have linked it to my webpage.
Your teaching on servant leadership came to me at a
very crucial time in my life and gently healed some very sore bruises
from being under some leadership that was anything but servant oriented.
Thank you for the truth you speak in the gentle light of God's grace.
I am responsible for teaching a Christian Foundations
class (discipleship) and have incorporated in the class much of what
I have learned in your seminars. I had the church purchase "The Nature
of Jesus" series of videos recently and am planning an advanced discipleship
course using those videos. I would teach the class myself, but there
is no way I could duplicate those facial expressions you make, which
bring so much life to the message. Each time I watch the videos I
am reminded of the simplicity of the gospel and how much God loves
Coeur d'Alene, ID
The first and only time I have had the pleasure of hearing
you speak was at Maranatha (San Diego) in 1990. At the time I was
a counselor for 6 boys in a group home for teens convicted of felony
crimes. All the boys were reluctant to go to church. You were speaking
at that particular service. The boys loved it so much, because they
didn't realize that church can be fun. They continued to go to Maranatha
with me a few times after that. Before I stopped working at that group
home, one of the boys answered the altar call at Maranatha. Your humor
and ability to get the message of Christ across really made a difference
in these boys' impressions of what a church can be about.
San Diego, Ca
Your video tapes have so much impact on the Bible
studies we have at the county jail. We watched the "Nature of the
Father" and the men all sit with eyes and ears glued to the program.
They heard that God really loves them and that God is not touchy and
forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin.
When the night had ended five men recommited their lives
to God and two accepted Jesus for the first time. Glory to God.
Port Townsend, WA
"Strange Fire" was very good. Well said, brother. Viewing
opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics (or the few parts I
did see) made me feel like I was in the wrong temple. Glad to have
your published thoughts to jog thinking.
H. Roger Lewis
We carried a copy of Roger Lewis' "Monarch Ministries"
newsletter in our last issue. Many of you expressed your pleasure
at it. Remember that if you want to receive it regularly, you must
write or call him.
A thought prompted by two of your articles I found on
your webpage (I wish I'd known about you years ago): personal Bible
study and prayer are like solid food and liquid. If all you eat are
solids, without any liquid intake, you quickly develop digestive blockage
(A few brilliant but unfriendly seminarians spring to my remembrance).
If you try to subsist only on liquids, you get weak and start to hallucinate
(A friend of my wife finally bailed out of a strange charismatic group).
You need both prayer and the Word combined to produce bone, muscle
and energy to act.
I teach the New Believers at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale.
God has used you mightily to help me in teaching and in my private
devotions to take the time to observe what is really going on in the
text rather than going straight for the interpretation.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Your ministry has given me plenty of chuckles and spoken
to my heart many times. I own an exterminating business and I'm in
and out of my truck all day long. I listen to WZXV in Rochester, NY
all day, even in the customers' houses! I go in (No one is home usually)
so I commandeer the nearest radio and tune it in.
Well, the other day a flooring guy came in and had to
measure and it just so happened you were on the air. In the short
little bit of time he was there, he got the neatest gospel presentation
and the Lord began working him over. He was a little hesitant, but
began to raise some questions about the station I was listening to.
You could see the Lord working on him. Shortly after, he was on his
way. I just know the Lord is going to bring him into my path again.
Keep up the good work on the radio here in Rochester.
It's taken a long time to sit down and write this Email
as I wanted to talk with all the other elders, Skip and the many others
you touched when you were here in Australia to see if they felt the
same as I did about your visit. And, sure enough, we all do feel the
same. The whole church thanks you for the way you touched people's
hearts and minds and those "feelings" you left us.
Your messages came at the right time for us here and
we came to see a perspective of God, Jesus and the disciples that
some of us had never considered before.
Before your visit, there was confusion in my mind in
the relationship of leadership and servanthood, but now I see that
servants are the true leaders in life by the example they set. That
would make a good bumper sticker.
Perth Western Australia
This calls for a celebration! We are at the point now
where I can do something I've been wanting to do for years: contribute
to the support of Servant Quarters regularly. I know it isn't a lot
of money, but I look forward to writing a check to Servant Quarters
every month. I thought that regular tithing was an accomplishment:
This is something special. Nothing like supporting the Body (my community)
to make me feel a part of it.
Mickey, Terry and Heather Wilson
Santa Rosa, CA
I heard a great report from someone I minister with
in New England. He said he's downloaded just about everything from
your site and has loved it all. He especially mentioned a thing you
had there on worship which was life changing for him.
My grandpa died last November. His name was John Schade.
I don't know if you remember him from the seminar you held at Calvary
Chapel. I wanted to tell you that my grandpa gave his life to Jesus
when you talked to him. Thank you for all the work you have done.
Now I know that my grandpa is in heaven and I will someday see him
A long distance provider keeps calling me pretending to
verify that I am not using their service then proceeds to ask me why.
They use that ploy to browbeat me once I have decided to even talk
to them. Another provider made an offer and asked if we thought their
offer was a good deal. Simply agreeing that we thought it sounded
good produced regular minimum charges for their "discount" service
on our next bill. Deception.
Unusual? No, this is the way of the world. Do you trust advertising?
I see bargain prices for automobiles, rush to the dealer where he
shows me the extremely fine print that says "only one at this price."
Then I also discover that the "one available" was sold before the
add came out. Deception.
I see an item advertised with glowing detailed description. It seems
to be just what I need, then when it arrives, I find out why the price
was cheap. It has an almost-fatal flaw that makes it almost useless.
Deception. The term "Let the buyer beware" is well known simply because
the way of the world in selling is deception. Why do we have to write
laws to force labeling of contents? Do you think tobacco companies
care for you? If, by law, we could just control deception, how much
easier our decisions would be, right? Wrong? Corporate employees tell
me that Dilbert, a business spoof in the comic pages, is so popular
for a good reason--it is true!
Maybe the problem exists in each of us. Another famous saying: "There
is a little larceny in every person's heart." The deceptions of the
seller are merely extensions and enlargements of the deceptive nature
in each of us. So, we hide (deceive). Why do we have jury trials?
So we can see if the person claiming to be not guilty is really deceiving
us. I know this doesn't work for California, but it is supposed to.
Jesus said, "Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds
are evil." So now we know why we hide.
But, why would I write all this obvious information? Because, if there
is one area we should be different as Christians, it is in being humbly
and simply non-deceptive. This applies to every area. We are not free
to deceive in calls, to conversion, or in fund raising, or on TV (ei,
yi, yi) or in our own advertising. Do certain people park their bikes,
knock on your door and offer you fresh revelation? Do they tell you
the real truth about what they believe? Of course not! If you knew
the whole truth, you would not answer the door. Deception. But they
want to be known as Christians.
We are children of the light and it is hard to hide things in the
But what if we do deceive in the religious world? Judas succeeded
at it very well. After three years of keeping the treasury, he fooled
everyone except Jesus. Time is a friend of light. Eventually everything
is revealed. Jesus said it would be. Proof of Jesus' divinity is the
scripture, "He was light. In Him was no darkness at all."
I want time and light to be my friends. The path to their door is
paved with stones called simple, humble, open, transparent, honest.
I have a feeling that when I knock on the door of time and light,
Jesus will answer.
— Gayle D. Erwin
This newsletter is sent to you from Servant Quarters by Gayle D. Erwin.
All of the teaching resources listed in this newsletter flow from
the book The Jesus Style and from the Nature of Jesus teaching.
We invite you to order them and see their quality and effectiveness
THE POST OFFICE
The Post Office and our mailing size forces us to automate. We must
use 100% accurate Zip+4 addresses.
You can help us if you move or ask to be on the list to supply us
with your five-digit zip code plus the last four digits.
You Will Thank Me
Several new items have crossed my desk that I want to bring to your
- Duane Clark, whose song writing and guitar skill has made
him a legend already, has made a video especially for teaching eager
guitarists. You can get the video and an accompanying manual for $20.00,
a bargain. Visit Duane's Web site at http://duaneclark.com/ or call at
- "All the Earth Sings to You" is a remarkable new album
of worship from Calvary Chapel of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For $10 you
can get cassette or CD. Write to 2800 Gateway Dr., Pompano Beach,
FL 33069 or call 954-977-9673 x245 or log on www.calvaryftl.org.
- Jeff Gore is a discovery. A cowboy poet and singer with a
world-class voice, you will enjoy his cassette "Love Is handed
Down" a mixture of western ballads and Christian songs. Send $10
to Jeff Gore, PO Box 60813, Midland, TX 79711 or call 915-550-2885.
- Larry and Kathy Stewart have a bright and lively quality
CD available that I personally enjoy. It is called "I Will Sing
To You" and you can get it by sending $12 to Stewart Missionaries,
PO Box 237, Alderson, OK 74522
ON THE INTERNET
We have recently added the popular (and now updated) "Incarnational
Foreign Ministry" article for you to download from our Web site.
Look for it under the title of "Tourist or Teacher" in the Articles
section. Many organizations require their missionaries to read the
Servant Quarters newsletter is sent free upon request.