Every religion of the earth places burdens or expectations on mankind that, try as he might, overwhelms him. Each religion demands certain forms of "good" to be done in order to achieve some form of salvation or heaven. Often, the "good" reduces to strange rituals or great sacrifice. After the rituals and sacrifice, the person remains no better or better off than before.
Modern complaints about the missionaries changing native Hawaiians away from their native religions ignore the whole story. On a boat tour of one Hawaiian harbor, the guide pointed out a fine home on a coveted shore and identified it as the home of a grandson of a missionary. His hostile comment followed: "As you can see, they came to do good and did well." I have no idea what brought about the prosperity of this grandson, (No such hostile comment would be made about a politician or a criminal.) but the guide totally avoided the real story.
On another trip, my wife and I were part of a group being guided through a state park in Hawaii. The guide, a young woman, constantly threw barbs at Christians for how they had changed the customs of the Islands. As she told the story of Old Hawaiian kings being buried in a secret place by his closest associate who would return to the village and make a sacrifice, I could no longer hold back.
I asked, "What kind of sacrifice would he make?"
Her answer: "A significant sacrifice."
"OK," I pursued, "Just how significant a sacrifice?"
"Well, a human sacrifice," she admitted.
I pressed further: "What kind of human sacrifice?"
Again, she was forced to admit something she never normally told those she guided, "The one who buried the king would return and kill all his friends and family."
That was all I needed. "Do you realize that this human sacrifice would continue were it not for the missionaries? Do you realize that you might have been killed by now even as a young lady? Do you also realize that in their culture, you, as a woman, would never be permitted to guide such a group as ours today? Be thankful the missionaries came. Be thankful." Speechless now, she only nodded reluctant agreement toward the truth.
What a price people pay when they follow some path other than Jesus himself. On a recent trip to Nepal, I discovered a most interesting revelation about Buddhism. Buddhists of today, though they revere Buddha and build multitudes of statues of him, have thoroughly rejected his teachings even using almost obscene words to describe his way compared to modern Buddhism with its "sacred use of sex and drugs." So long denial, hello flesh!
The wonder of following Jesus is that more is demanded of us than of any other system, yet we are the only ones whose leader occupies us and actually meets the unmeetable requirements in us. Any other teaching is a reduction of the words of Jesus.
Heaven on Earth
The promise of finding our lives carries a greater message than we usually understand. This is the promise of achieving what all people seek. Everyone wants to improve his life, to "find" some place of satisfaction, some happiness, some rest. An English poet named Pope described the human situation: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Man never is, but always to be, blessed."
The constant hunt for "life" goes on. Even the founders of the USA recognized the reach was beyond our grasp when they declared that we all have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." They knew happiness was only a pursuit.
However, he who made us knows how we work. Whenever you take a car or truck to a mechanic to have him tune it up, you want to make sure that they have a manufacturer's manual so they will have the right specifications. If he looks at your car and says, "Wow, I have never seen one of these before. Just leave it here and I will play with it," you would be out of there as fast as possible.
To our great benefit, he who made us, our manufacturer, wrote a manufacturer's manual, the Bible, so we would have the specifications to truly run right, to "find our lives." We were not designed by the creator for selfishness, for wickedness, but, instead, for servanthood and holiness. Any other use than servanthood is like sand in place of oil in the engine-we are destined for destruction and run poorly and temporarily in the meantime.
Jesus came, not to mess up our lives as the park guide in Hawaii wanted us to believe, but to give us life and more of it than we ever imagined. The problem to the natural me is that the only way to achieve that life (and joy and happiness) is through giving to others. The benefit of the deal is that as I give I achieve more of life as a simple fringe benefit.
Years ago, I happened upon a journal which reported the results of a study of happiness. Now, happiness is hard to study. You cannot quantify it-put numbers on it. You cannot say, "I would like a pound of happiness please," or, "Could I have $5 worth of happiness?" A group of psychologists studied happiness in a way I thought was very clever. They interviewed a large number of people and asked them if they knew anyone who was happy. If they said, "Yes," they would ask additional questions, some standardized and others to free them to describe. When they had a statistically significant number, they began to tabulate the data and discovered that one trait seemed to be true of all happy people-they were "constantly doing benevolent things for other people."
I could have saved them a lot of time and trouble with the words of Jesus, "If you want to find your life, lose it for my sake." This is what the kingdom, the church, the life is all about. This is the foundation, the stone that keeps us unmovable. Anything else is sand.
This is an excerpt from a book by Gayle Erwin to be published later this year.
Servant Quarters, Vol. 22 #1
Published quarterly. Available free by request.
PO Box 219
Cathedral City, CA 92235
The July, August, September issue of Servant Quarters arrived at a very hectic time in my schedule. I laid it aside, determined to read it later. Well, later turned into months and I just found it again this week. I got goosebumps when I read it, especially in light of last week's (9/11) tragedy. May God continue to bless you and your ministry, dear brother!
Barbara S. Baer,
West Baltimore, MD
My dad and I went to Calvary Tijuana to set up a sound system. During our three-day stay, I noticed tons of very hungry hearts wanting direction for service. So, having read The Jesus Style while attending Skip Heitzig's School of Ministry many years ago, I wanted to disperse the book to as many people as possible.
I wondered how I was ever going to buy 20 Jesus Styles and give them out. I prayed. Then a couple of days later, I found myself sitting next to you on the National Day of Prayer. After the breakfast, I asked if you had The Jesus Style in Spanish. Your reply came in the form of a case (104) of them in my dad's car.
My dad asked how I was going to pay for them. I answered, "I don't know. God put the idea in my head so I guess buying them is His problem."
My pastor liked the idea and the church paid for them. I love it. Delivery was the next problem. I prayed. It just so happened that a member of the Church in Tijuana came that Wednesday to pick up some equipment. I asked him to give out a case of Spanish Jesus Styles and a case of Bibles to everyone in his church.
A couple of months later on a trip to Mexico, I bumped into my friend and he said that he gave them to everyone in his church and then to the pastors of all the surrounding churches. How many other churches? About 20. Ahhh!
So The Jesus Style created quite a buzz in Mexico, affecting hundreds of people.
Since then, I have begun a discipleship class and in going through Nehemiah, I use The Jesus Style and Victorious Christian Service as support books.
Almost two years ago, I shared some of your tapes with my father who was dying of cancer. Although he was a believer, we had not talked about it too much. He was, perhaps, less comfortable talking about it. I think your tapes were a real comfort to him. He passed away in a hospital bed in his living room while I was asleep in the recliner next to him. The last words I heard him say were, "Jesus is our only hope."
I listen to your broadcasts almost every week-day and every Sunday. I deeply appreciate what you teach. I am learning and clarifying much through my listening.
Bowling Green, KY
I have just finished reading The Jesus Style and what a blessing! I wish I could have written it. It expresses everything that I believe and have experienced in my life and ministry.
I wish you could have known E. Stanley Jones. Your book describes the United Christian Ashram in India so well. The Guru is Jesus and there are no titles, no rank, no race, no denomination, just brothers and sisters in Jesus. "Jesus is Lord" is the motto.
I am sure that our meeting has blessed me and Ruth more than you will ever know.
The ME in me was struggling not to be revealed as I would have denied having any selfish aims before this weekend. Praise God for the example He gave us in His Son Jesus. Thank God for people like you who bring us this message.
Thank you for handling us with "kid gloves." I feel washed and renewed.
My husband and I attended your Jesus Style seminar in Auckland recently and were greatly blessed by the teaching. At one point during your talk you spoke about witnessing to the unsaved and sharing Jesus Christ with them-do they understand who he really is? I immediately heard the sense in these words. The following day I had planned to meet up with my new friend, Isabelle, for coffee. I had witnessed to her on two occasions and she had responded positively to the Gospel. When I shared with her my notes from Jesus Style she had some of her questions answered and myths dispelled. One myth Isabelle had been brought up to believe was that Jesus' name was so sacred nobody else bore His name. I will continue to pray for Isabelle and ask the Lord to draw her by his Holy Spirit to a personal relationship with him.
Auckland, New Zealand
I'm reading Handbook for Servants. Convicting, encouraging, thought-provoking, challenging, confirming-all at the same time! My goodness, how our Lord uses you to reach the saints!
Delaware County, PA
I don't think you would remember me but I will never forget you. I am a retired Police Officer from Long Beach, California. Several years ago I was going to attend a men's conference in which you were going to speak. I did not make it. I ended up getting run over by a drunk driver (drugs), but my partner made it and brought me back your tapes. I listened to them while recovering from my surgery. I laughed so hard almost busted my stitches but the tears held them together.
We now live in Panama City Beach, Florida, and we are sending our Pastor and his wife to Merritt Island for the conference in January. We were excited to find out you were going to be a speaker and told him how much they would enjoy and be blessed by your message. I will make sure he brings your message back to our Church for everyone to listen.
Lance and Liz Livingston
Panama City Beach, FL
I attended a worship leader's conference in Maryland about 5 years ago at which you were one of the speakers. I learned so much at that conference. I was a very young Christian at the time although my pastor had invited me and my drums to join the worship team at our church, and I was so eager to learn, this conference was one of the many things I did in order to learn more about Jesus. Over the past year or two, lingering habits of thought and emotion were re-kindling themselves and growing from beneath me in such a way that I was not even recognizing their strength or ugliness until these past few months, and then it became really obvious. Anyway, God provided some new opportunities for me to grow from and learn from, new people, and one friend mentioned your website, which I hadn't known about. I wrote down 4 tapes and the servant's handbook as things I wanted to order, but being so strapped with paying for college I asked my mom to get them for me for my birthday in November.
Hesitantly, (she's Catholic and slow to understand the concept of my "born again" identity; it's a little radical to her, but she's growing in understanding that it's the same God we are serving...) she ordered them for me, lost them accidentally, and then found them to give to me as a Christmas gift.
This was certainly the best Christmas gift I have ever gotten. I have often struggled with depression, and more recently anger issues, but some of what I was receiving through your messages are certain truths about God and human nature that I really need to plant in my mind.
God is using your messages to strengthen and transform me, and your hopeful and joyful nature to remind me of his own character. I want to serve God within his grace and know his smile upon my face. Thank you for helping Him to reveal his true character to me.
I am pleased to introduce a true classic to you. Arising from the agony of 9/11, Joe Focht and his associates of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia produced a CD simply called "Comfort." This is for those who are hurting. Accompanying it is a booklet with the stories of the artists who themselves sing and write out of moments of grief. The songs and scripture readings are absolutely perfect. I promise you that this will be something you will give and give…and listen to and listen to. Send $15 to Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, PO Box 11554, Philadelphia, PA 19116-0554 or call Refuge Records 215-969-9742.
Three music CDs have caught my attention and are worthy of your knowing about. In the first, Jeff Jones, a worship leader in Auburn, CA, recorded a beautiful set of songs he has written. These are all true worship songs that capture your heart and lead you to the Lord. You will enjoy. Send $15 each to Jeff Jones, PO Box 7255, Auburn, CA 95604.
Do you like the old hymns? How about old hymns with a livelier beat? They call it "Grandma's hymns done phat." If you want to hear "The Old Rugged Cross" and "How Great Thou Art" from the heart of a younger person, you will treasure this. I certainly enjoy it. It is called "Higher Praise" and is produced by Clay Hecocks. Go to www.higherpraiseworship.org.
Mike Reese is a true balladeer. His songs tell stories and create scenes that are unforgettable. His CD entitled "Hidden Hearts" contains songs not designed for worship but for thought and reflection. His concepts and phrases keep bringing you back. By the way, Mike is also an accomplished commercial artist and is the one who created the face of my caricature in this newsletter and designed the covers for my two story books. Go to www.mikereese.musicpage.com.
Steve Carr publishes a quarterly teaching letter entitled "Covenant Keepers." The theme is marriage and the approach is practical. Get on his mailing list if you can. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org.
David Guzik blesses us again with his newest release, a verse-by-verse Commentary on Revelation. This is a 275 page treasure for a Bible student. He also released his newest CD of verse-by-verse commentary on the "New Testament & More." First Class! Also, ask for his email devotionals. Go to www.enduringword.com.
Out of 9/11 have come a number of interesting written observations. Here are two:
25 Ways We're Different This Christmas
1. Last Christmas we were
thinking about all the things we didn't have; this Christmas we are thinking
about all the things we do have.
2. Last Christmas we were placing wreaths on the doors of our homes; this Christmas we are placing wreaths on the graves of our heroes.
3. Last Christmas we were letting our sons play with toy guns; this Christmas we are teaching them that guns are not toys.
4. Last Christmas we were counting our money; this Christmas we are counting our blessings.
5. Last Christmas we were lighting candles to decorate; this Christmas we are lighting candles to commemorate.
6. Last Christmas we paid lip service to the real meaning of the holidays; this Christmas we are paying homage to it.
7. Last Christmas we were digging deep into our bank accounts to find money to fly home for the holidays; this Christmas we are digging deep into our souls to find the courage to do so.
8. Last Christmas we were trying not to let annoying relatives get the best of us; this Christmas we are trying to give the best of ourselves to them.
9. Last Christmas we thought it was enough to celebrate the holidays; this Christmas we know we must also find ways to consecrate them.
10. Last Christmas we thought a man who could rush down a football field was a hero; this Christmas we know a man who rushes into a burning building is the real one.
11. Last Christmas we were thinking about the madness of the holidays; this Christmas we are thinking about the meaning of them.
12. Last Christmas we were getting on one another's nerves; this Christmas we are getting on our knees.
13. Last Christmas we were giving thanks for gifts from stores; this Christmas we are giving thanks for gifts from GOD.
14. Last Christmas we were wondering how to give our children all the things that money can buy; this Christmas we are wondering how to give them all the things money can't (peace, security).
15. Last Christmas we were thinking about all the pressure we are under at the office; this Christmas we are thinking about all the people who no longer have an office to go to.
16. Last Christmas we were singing carols; this Christmas we are singing anthems.
17. Last Christmas we were thinking how good it would feel to be affluent; this Christmas we are thinking how good it feels to be alive.
18. Last Christmas we thought angels were in heaven; this Christmas we know they are right here on earth.
19. Last Christmas we were contemplating all the changes we wanted to make in the new year; this Christmas we are contemplating all the changes we will have to make in this new reality.
20. Last Christmas we believed in the power of the pocketbook; this Christmas we believe in the power of prayer.
21. Last Christmas we were sharing/spreading/listening to gossip; this Christmas we are sharing/spreading/and listening to the Gospel.
22. Last Christmas we were complaining about how much of our earnings went to taxes; this Christmas we comprehend that freedom isn't free.
23. Last Christmas we valued things that were costly; this Christmas we value things that are holy.
24. Last Christmas the people we idolized wore sports uniforms; this Christmas the people we idolize wear police, fire-fighter and military uniforms.
25. Last Christmas peace on earth was something we prayed for on Sunday morning; now it's something we pray for every day.
On Monday there were people fighting against praying
On Tuesday you would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying.
On Monday there were people trying to separate each other by race, sex, color and creed.
On Tuesday they were all holding hands.
On Monday we thought that we were secure.
On Tuesday we learned better.
On Monday we were talking about heroes as being athletes.
On Tuesday we relearned what hero meant.
On Monday people went to work at the world trade centers as usual
On Tuesday they died.
On Monday people were fighting the 10 commandments on government property.
On Tuesday the same people all said "God help us all" while thinking "Thou shall not kill."
On Monday people argued with their kids about picking up their room.
On Tuesday the same people could not get home fast enough to hug their kids.
On Monday people picked up McDonalds for dinner.
On Tuesday they stayed home.
On Monday people were upset that their dry cleaning was not ready on time.
On Tuesday they were lining up to give blood for the dying.
On Monday politicians argued about budget surpluses.
On Tuesday grief stricken they sang "God Bless America."
On Monday we worried about the traffic and getting to work late.
On Tuesday we worried about a plane crashing into our house or place of business.
On Monday we were irritated that our rebate checks had not arrived.
On Tuesday we saw people celebrating people dying in the USA.
On Monday some children had solid families.
On Tuesday they were orphans.
On Monday the president was going to Florida to read to children.
On Tuesday he returned to Washington to protect our children.
On Monday we emailed jokes.
On Tuesday we did not.
It is sadly ironic how it takes horrific events to place things into
perspective, but it has.
The lessons learned this week, the things we have
taken for granted, the things that have been forgotten or overlooked,
hopefully will never be forgotten again.
On Monday – pray and be thankful.
On Tuesday – pray and be thankful.
On Wednesday – pray and be thankful.
On Thursday – pray and be thankful.
On Friday – pray and be thankful.
On Saturday – pray and be thankful.