Gayle Erwin's Newsletter

January 1997 Newsletter




KEEPING THE FAITH

Everything humanly produced changes. A famous poet described it by saying you can never go home. In other words, once you leave, things change and they will not be the home you remembered when you return.

Businesses and movements change. An author who examined big business said that they would never get big if they did in the beginning what they were doing when they became large.

So, why am I saying this? This is a declaration from Servant Quarters to stay the same. We are under contract from God to teach on and (hopefully) example the Nature of Jesus. It is now an old message, but, to me, forever young. Every time I share it, I gain new insight or am challenged in new ways.

Perhaps God makes me repeat it just so I will learn it, regardless of how others react. That message, at the insistence of my students at a college I taught at, was condensed to the book The Jesus Style. I knew in my heart, because of the impact it had on me, that this would be well-received. It has!

Now, with translations in ten languages, it has become required reading for many church leaders and missions workers. Everything we do or write flows from the message of the Nature of Jesus. Sometimes people pray for me that I might get a new message thinking they are doing me a favor with that prayer. In my mind, I am saying, "No, Lord. Let me truly learn your Nature better and teach it more effectively." Some occasionally call me to ask me to speak, but first they ask if I have anything new to say. Our conversation ends quickly. I can teach on the whole Bible, but every session will have the "Jesus" spin on it.

I have heard others say, "Now that you know Jesus, I want to take you beyond Jesus into deeper things." My response? Hogwash! Baloney! There is no "beyond Jesus." There are no "deeper things." Paul states clearly in Colossians 1 and 2 that God put everything He was in Jesus. Hebrews 1 says Jesus was the exact likeness of the Father. What is there beyond that?

Nothing I have ever said or seen changes lives for the better than an understanding of the Nature of Jesus. Around the world, Christians, new or old, instinctively know that my description of Jesus is true. Individuals have, with tears, thanked me for restoring them to the Jesus they first believed in. Scholars of note have called me to express their verification. Knowing His nature unlocks and interprets the Scripture more than anything I have seen. Knowing His nature guides my actions and thoughts better than anything I have ever seen.

If the writers of the New Testament were as sold on Jesus as it appears, I am just as sold on Him because of my belief in Biblical Truth, but I am also sold on Him because he is verified in my own life. This is not mere intellectual pursuit. These are not philosophical ruminations. This is Life! My travels place me in position to see many religions and traditions. The errors they chase and the anguish and hopelessness I see breaks my heart and renews my desire to share the Truth. But it also makes me giddily thankful that I know Him and His rest and peace have captured my heart.

So, we keep on keeping on. Our list on His nature as revealed in His "Greatest in the Kingdom" teachings is plastered here again. Burn it into your heart. Make a poster of it. Run all your actions, thoughts, interpretations through it. It will be your best friend.

    Servant:

    • Not lord it over others
    • Leadership by example
    • Humble
    • As a child
    • As the younger
    • Least
    • Last
    • No force
    • No selfish ambition
    • No reputation
    • Human
    • Obedient
    • Death
Because we believe Jesus was this way, our eyes focus more clearly on God the Father. Since Jesus came to reveal him, any beliefs about the Father that vary from this must be erroneous. Studying this reawakened me to the Grace of God. Folks, Chuck Smith's book title says it all "Grace Changes Everything!"

A heartbreaking discovery forced changes in approach to communist countries as they began to open to the Gospel. The churches that existed were so traditional and legalistic that new converts could not be trusted to them. Indeed, the opportunity was given for them to train new converts, but rather than teach them about Jesus, they merely taught them church rules and denominational history. The converts disappeared. They simply did not understand Grace.

Now, we reach for the youth and make sure they understand the Grace of God and what it means to love people and have the joy of close relationship with God. Paul's warning to teachers sometimes terrifies me, but it keeps me on track. I do not want to stand before God to answer for my mission to teach about Him and only be able to say I taught about my church and my rules. My friend Mike Nelson put it in a unique way: "If I turned my children over to someone to have them teach my children about me and they taught the way people teach God's children about Him, I would be furious."

So, we put a hammerlock on Grace. Never let it go! That brings up the next list that must be burned into our hearts. How anyone can read Exodus 34:6 and reject Grace mystifies me. Here God the Father describes Himself to Moses. Hear it! Hear it!

    Grace:

    • Compassionate
    • Gracious
    • Slow to anger
    • Abounding in mercy
    • Abounding in faithfulness
    • Mercy to thousands
    • Forgiving wickedness
    • Forgiving rebellion
    • Forgiving sin.

So, how is God doing so far? Is there any better message? Then, just so we will not miss the message, the Holy Spirit comes to make sure we get that message and not some different one. He is not an adrenaline surge or a justifier of weirdness. He is the great pointer and mover. He points us to Jesus and then moves us that direction. So, the message is complete and adequate. When I lay my head on my pillow at night, I rest well knowing I have shared only things that will bless and edify. I like that. Join me in a big "Aaahhhhh!"

— Gayle D. Erwin


Letters


My wife and I have just completed a year of intense discipleship in a small group with servants Rick and Jean Canter of Fellowship Missionary Church in Ft. Wayne, IN.

We used The Jesus Style as our study and I can tell you that our lives will never be the same again. I have been so blessed by God's Truth as revealed in your book that I can hardly contain myself. I am finally beginning to understand who I am, a servant in Christ. This is leading me to a greater freedom. My mental and emotional health is improving as well as my physical well-being. I am really starting to live now. God bless you in your continuing ministry.

Chris Beck
Ft. Wayne, IN




You were a true answer to prayer. Not the answer I expected, mind you, but an answer.

I expected God to use the retreat (and you) to give me new insight or revelation that would help me break through the invisible bonds that seemed to be sapping my strength spiritually and emotionally. Guess what! No new revelation.

You spoke delightfully about things I already knew, things I have taught on myself. By Saturday afternoon, I was, well, frustrated to say the least. No lightning bolts. No thunder. (I thought I heard thunder, but it turned out to be you saying the word SSTTTUUUUFFFFFF!) I love hearing your stories and enjoyed your teaching style beyond any I have sat under, but Gayle, it was the same stuff! With my notebook overflowing with thoughts and insight you had spoken, I left that evening thinking "Lord, did I miss it?" About 2:00 am, after tossing and turning (Had a room full of snorers. Considered laying on hands, but 4 vs 1 seemed bad odds.), I finally got up and sat outside. Looking at the stars and all their complexity, it suddenly struck me. You see, I was seeking a complex answer, like trying to figure out the details of all the Cosmos. God spoke to my heart and said, "John, it is this simple: follow after me, be as I am and you will find the rest and peace you desire."

Sometimes, I think we want it to be complex. That way we have an excuse for not being quite able╔after all it is soooo complex! God, through your word, reminded me that His plan for my life was not complex. It was very simple. No, not necessarily easy to fulfill, but simple. And, by the power of the Holy Spirit, attainable.

Thanks, Gayle, for making it clearer for this man.

John Neill
El Cajon, CA





I own an exterminating business and am in and out of my truck all day long. I listen to WZXV in Rochester, NY all day, even in the customers houses! 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 while you were on the air. In the short bit of time he was there, he got the neatest gospel presentation and the Lord began to work him over. He was a little hesitant, but began to raise some questions about the station I was listening to.

Shortly after, he was on his way. I know the Lord is going to bring him into my path again. So, buddy, the good work you do on radio in Rochester is much appreciated.

Chris Sackett
Rochester, NY





I teach new believers as well as another Bible study in Ft. Lauderdale Calvary Chapel. God has used you mightily to help me take the time to observe what is really going on in the text rather than jump straight for an interpretation. This has helped not only in my teaching but in my private devotions as well. By the way, "Calorie Chapel" had me on the floor laughing.

Greg Buzek
Ft. Lauderdale, FL





I was tickled pink to come across your webpage and have linked it to my page at www.connect.ab.ca/~kwalden.

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.

Katherine Walden
Canada





I heard you on KAPL this morning and enjoyed the conversation. That is how I found you on the "highway." This site is refreshing and something I will be visiting frequently.

Stacey Jo Shaw
Medford, OR





Our radio "scenes" or "nuggets" continue to receive excellent response as does the webpage. If people want to respond to our radio program, they have to go to some effort. Because we don't give our address information as part of the program, they must call the station to find out how to get in touch with us. The fact that we are getting frequent letters is amazing to us. In terms of the webpage, we get massive response for which we are grateful. Some of the reason for that is because of the incredible convenience of email.

Last Summer when you were here for the pastor's conference, Kathy and I brought her sister to hear you at the End-Times Outreach--seated front row center. I didn't know how this was going to work out, but Dorine loved it and definitely heard all that the Lord had to say to her through you that night.

One of your illustrations that night was how the Holy Spirit is such a good fisherman. She admitted that she was no longer on the run, but she still wasn't in the boat yet either.

Well, a few weeks ago, she got in the boat and is now being discipled by Kathy. This is one of those prayer-for-15-years situations and so we are greatly rejoicing at that the Lord is doing. I know that your message that night played a big part in her finally making a commitment to the Lord. May the Lord continue to use you.

Tim Newman
Kailua, HI





We relocated from California to the Chicago area and met you in Wisconsin. My wife and I found your tapes and videos a tremendous source of encouragement as we sought and continue to seek the Lord's will for our life. In addition, I can not begin to tell you how your first talk on spiritual warfare on Saturday was an awesome blessing to me, as the truths that you were teaching impacted exactly some of the difficulties we are currently struggling with.

If you had not been delayed by the fog, I believe that you said that this message would probably not have been given. Praise the Lord! His Spirit indeed leads us!

Larry Chan
Chicago, IL





Some amazing things are being touted as spiritual warfare nowadays--everything from militaristic songs to loud praying to marching to trying to name demons. This distracts from the real war. Your heart is the battlefield, the war is hand-to-hand combat and your prayer and faithfulness wins the victory. Evil is overcome by good. So, go good em getters.

After your teaching on the Name of Jesus, I was reading some of A. W. Tozer and came across this quotation: "Remember, there is no magic in faith or in names. You can name the name of Jesus a thousand times, but if you will not follow the nature of Jesus, the name if Jesus will not mean anything to you."

Don Hawkins
Harvest, AL





Your sharing about the Nature of Jesus has me praying and thinking about how I might become more like Him. I only wish I had two weeks to spend with you and learn all I could about His Nature. I've come back ready to be a true servant, an example to others. My home fellowship will be hearing about the things you share with us for quite some time.

Steve Finch
La Mesa, CA





I was pleased with the offering I received today in the snailbox about politics vs. God's kingdom. You clearly and rightly polarized the truth from error and put it all in a very refreshing light. It seems that conquest in the arena of life is such a major part of everyone's agenda and wanting to be "more than a conqueror" at doing so. I was SO reminded that it is by His principles that we are able to succeed, "for apart from Me you can do NOTHING." John 15:5

Michael David Severson
Mountlake Terrace, WA





I was home sick with pneumonia a few years ago and while I was home Joe asked me to review some videos that were used for a ministry training program. They were as dry as anything.

After looking at them, I remember that I also had a video series that you produced a while back. I put the first one on and immediately my spirit was lifted. What a contrast they were to the dry ones I had just reviewed. The moral is: Not only do I never get tired of you in person, but it seems I also have to watch you on video when you are not here. Is this some new syndrome yet undefined by the American Medical Association? Whatever, I love it!

Jerry Paradise
Philadelphia, PA





Bruce Larson, in his book "Wind and Fire," points out some interesting facts about sandhill cranes: "These large birds, who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out in front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. And then, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation. That's not a bad model for the church. Certainly we need leaders who can handle turbulence and who are aware that leadership ought to be shared. But most of all, we need a church where we are all honking encouragement."
1 Thess. 5:11-14

Jay JDJAZZ@aol.com





Well, it has been almost a week and we are still talking about the weekend men's retreat. I just want to let you know how much of an impact you had on our fellowship. We thank the Lord for teachers like you who could bring the simplicity of the Gospel to common men like us.

My wife and I have a very special place for you in our hearts. We remember you when we laugh about our experience.

Ricardo Galindez
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada





It has been a blessing in my life to hear your "Scenes from the Bible" in this area. Your teaching and gift of humor has been an inspiration to my commitment and fellowship with Jesus Christ and my sharing his love with others.

Holly Fromberger
Pitsford, NY



Home Fellowships

I asked Chuck Lind, who serves Calvary Chapel of Olympia, WA to share the rules that guide his successful home group fellowships. He kindly obliged.

Just wanted to write you about the home group method we use to study the Bible. It has been the most effective and easiest method to get people involved. We just ask them to read the chapter during the week each day and then:
  1. Give the theme of chapter and why they chose that theme.
  2. A character quality of Jesus even if in OT. This makes you always talk about Jesus.
  3. A personal application from the chapter.
  4. Finally, one question that you can ask the whole group.
With this simple outline I have seen people learn and discover more about the bible than any other work book. I see people digging and some just come and join in which is easy to do. We always start by reading through the chapter so that no one feels left out. We have never run out of things to talk about with this method.

I thought I would just mention a few things that we have learned that help our home groups
  1. We have them all on Sunday nights which gives consistency and people like going to someone's home on that evening rather than back to church.
  2. Once a group starts we ask them to reach out and invite new people to the group to keep Its numbers consistent. If It grows to more than 14 we split the group.
  3. They are long term groups. Some have been together for 9 years and have grown very deep in their relationships.
  4. We require them to take August off just to give each other a break.
  5. At minimum they must go through a book of the Bible every other time. If they choose to do a topic or series it must be approved by Pastors.
  6. We require that it be a group study and not a teaching. We don't want a Sunday morning or midweek bible study duplication. We actually had to ask a man to quit because he kept making it a teaching time and the people were complaining.
  7. First, meet the first Monday night of the month with all the group leaders just to encourage them and pray about any problems. We end up sharing and having a great time together. They are like my deacons. We have the wives join us once every three months. These people are a real life line to the body for me.
  8. We pay half their way to our regional Pastor's Conference just so they will come. It's the best way to pass on the vision of Calvary Chapel.
  9. Each group is responsible to help people in that group with needs and problems. The groups also help with larger needs in the body as they come up on a rotating basis.
We have about 20 groups now that are doing very well. We thank the Lord for this portion of our body that is so healthy



KNOWLEDGE

Simple logical question: What is so important that the Holy Spirit would give us a special gift just to achieve it? The answer, of course, has to be the knowledge of Jesus.

The gift of knowledge comes to us wrapped with the scarlet cord of redemption. The gift of knowledge has frequently been defined in a way that severely limits. Unfortunately, many people never ask questions about whether a definition is correct or not. That limiting definition reduces knowledge to simply knowing and revealing the sickness or problem of a person before praying for him. Now, the Holy Spirit is certainly capable of doing such, but that definition places the gift in a very small corner of what might be the broader and more likely use.

The finest knowledge, and the knowledge for which I am most likely to need divine help is knowledge of God himself. You must note in Philippians 3:10 that Paul's great desire was to know Jesus. No other knowledge or desire brings him to such strong words. Paul never seemed to want to know or teach others to want to know scintillating things about individuals. He determined to know nothing except Jesus.... (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Some evidence of other uses of knowledge comes to us from Jesus. He saw Nathaniel under a tree. This encounter resulted in Nathaniel's joining the band of apostles. He revealed the truth of her life to the woman at the well in John Chapter Four, but this resulted in their belief in Jesus and the salvation of a whole town. In either case, it was unique and did not result in all the apostles seeking to see under trees nor did the town in Samaria seem to go on people revealing parties.

As recorded in the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira did not fare well when Peter revealed that they had lied to the Holy Spirit. They died; however, the result was growth and unity and purity of the fledgling Church. This Godly knowledge and wisdom, the gift we have just discussed, are so similar that they often seem to be synonyms. Perhaps they always go together. It is wisdom that enables us to properly use the knowledge that God gives us.

So, though the Holy Spirit can and will do things of unusual and revealing nature, the great purpose of God is that we may know Him. In the natural, that knowledge is beyond us. A gift from him is required for us to know "the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! " (Romans 1 1:33) Paul prayed for this knowledge: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." (Philippians 3: 10) In fact, knowledge permeated his praying for others: "Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (Colossians 1:9)

— Gayle D. Erwin


Half A Brain

My friend Denny called me often to his office to share valuable insights he had learned from the Bible and, knowing my penchant for story telling, the latest parables or stories he thought I might use. I grew to appreciate him very much.

In one of those tragedies I will not understand until I get to Heaven, Denny had a heart attack as a very young man, apparently a genetic anomaly. Unfortunately, the medical people arrived in time to save his life, but not in time to save his brain.

Now, he was reduced to a six-year-old in mentality. Though married, he did not understand what that meant. He spoke and thought as a child. That is, until you got him into church. Whenever he was brought to church, as the songs were being sung, he sang as if normal. When the Scripture was being quoted, his lips would move in remembrance. Something deeper than the damaged brain existed inside him, something that the damage could not touch, something written far deeper than simple memory.

My mother in law is in her late eighties and has lived profitably. She has consistently resisted the prospect of being out of her home and in some sort of institutional care system. However, as Alzheimers disease reduced her ability to care for herself, a serious hospital stay proved the successful bridge. By this time, most of her conversation was incoherent or wildly inappropriate. Except for one thing which my wife reported to me after a stay with her.

Whenever she prayed, her mind and her words were totally coherent and logical. As she lay helpless in the hospital bed, her spirit was not helpless. For long periods of time, she would march through her relatives names praying for them, relate the need of her church in prayer, pray for people she didn't even know. Somehow, beneath all the brain cells affected by the disease, there lay a fully alert ability to communicate with her God. As long as she was talking to Him, she was totally coherent.

My father was severely injured in an airplane accident as a young man and it left him disabled with a damaged brain and a paralyzed left side. Throughout his now-diminished life, he continued unswervingly to serve the Lord. Though livelihood now came from menial jobs rather than pastoring as in the past, his life of Bible study and worship and integrity never varied. Both my parents stood as giant examples for me to follow.

When my father died at age 65, they did an autopsy and discovered that half of his brain was dead. For 32 years he had lived for God with half of his brain dead.

I pondered his case and the others I relate to you here and realized that you can serve God with half a brain! There's hope for all of us!

— excerpted from a coming book by Gayle Erwin