Only one thing survived the ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden – their marriage. Perhaps, though the gates of Eden remained effectively guarded, God offered free entry beyond the flaming swords of the angels at the gates by letting our marriages be a taste of paradise.
You may be thinking, "You obviously have not visited our house if you think this is supposed to be paradise." Judging from the divorce statistics, very few people regard marriage as a taste of paradise though hope continues to live in our hearts. However, when relationships move toward God's instruction and example, the taste becomes sweeter.
As a college chaplain, I performed a large number of weddings. Those events gave me some of my most joyous moments. For any couple who gave me that privilege, I tried to spend a few hours with them in what we call "premarital counseling." Frequently sensing a lack of attention, I sometimes wanted to dismiss the sessions and tell them to see me six months after their wedding, since they were more likely to listen then.
Occasionally, I would hear, "We want to have a fifty-fifty marriage, to meet each other half way." My immediate response would be, "Who decides where that midpoint will be? One of you will think you are doing 75% and the other will think you haven't even begun." Fifty-fifty marriages create new battlegrounds and foster failure. One's attention constantly questions whether the other spouse is meeting their obligation. Inevitably, the mind turns inward and asks, "Are my needs being met?" or "Am I happy yet?"
The more our minds turn toward ourselves and perceived
needs, the more our efforts diminish in making our spouse happy and fulfilled.
Any decision to
check out my "happy quotient" buys a thousand miles of miserable
road. Definitely not a taste of paradise.
So, what action brings paradise back into view? The answer flows from the nature of Jesus, as you might expect me to say. Here it is: When each person gives 100% toward making life better for their spouse, the taste of Eden becomes a full meal. How? First because it removes the misery of self-centeredness and places us inside the guarantee of Jesus to "find our lives." Second, the moment we turn our hearts toward blessing someone else, all Heaven gathers on our side.
So powerful is the concept that even if only one spouse approaches or attempts the 100% goal of servanthood, it still works. To see a few practical outworkings of this principle, read the "Jake" stories in my story books. Plus, simple mathematics show that when two people are working fully to make life better for the other person, it actually works out to a real fifty-fifty split.
We would be foolish to think that any of us reach the 100% goal. In our own strength and will, it cannot be done. However, our submission to Jesus provides a storehouse of energy and a divine push in the right direction. Going in the right direction lifts the hope of our spouse immensely.
The oft-resisted instructions from Paul in Ephesians 5 that call for wifely submission and husbandly love-as-Christ-loved are merely a variation of the formula that says "I choose to do what is right and best for you and am committed to it for the long haul." Everyone benefits from this choice.
Anyone who wants to grow as a person, especially in Christ-likeness, discovers in marriage their own weaknesses in issuing grace and mercy, and, in the protection of commitment, reaches ever new levels of cooperating with God in renewal and change.
Anyone who does not want to grow ironically only discovers the weakness in his or her spouse.
Growing in Godliness demands the laboratory of committed relationships. Marriage is the perfect workshop.
— Gayle Erwin
Some lawyers learn in school
Some in prep for the bar exam
Lots more as they go into practice
And of course, some learn
Only by being made to look foolish
I was fresh from the Evidence class
I had listened well
I felt that I knew the rules of evidence
I knew about direct examination
And cross examination was interesting
So I tried a cross examination
I asked questions
Questions that put the subject on the spot
Questions that almost forced a confession
Then I learned a lesson
One I wished I had learned earlier
The person I was cross examining
Suggested that the cross exam was over
In law school that never happened
In law school I had not been warned
Under no circumstances ever try to
Cross examine your wife.
John Acuff, Country Lawyer
A man is a person who, when his wife says, "Never mind. I'll do it myself!" lets her.
A woman is a person who, when she says, "Never mind. I'll do it myself," and her husband lets her, gets mad.
A man is a person who when his wife says, "Never mind. I'll do it myself," and he lets her and she gets mad, says "Now what are you mad about?"
A woman is a person who, when she says, "Never mind. I'll do it myself," and he lets her and she gets mad and he says, "Now, what are you mad about?" answers, "If you don't know what I am mad about I am not going to tell you."
Darlene and Ted Zimmerman
Servant Quarters, Vol. 27, #2
Available by request by e-mail or by post.
PO Box 219
Cathedral City, CA 92235
Web site: www.servant.org
DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching a flat metal bar out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your Coke across the room, splattering it against that freshly-stained table you were drying.
WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench at the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned guitar calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, "Yeouw ......"
ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.
SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.
PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters. The tool used most often by all women.
BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs
HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the worse the cut becomes.
VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
WELDING GLOVES: Heavy duty leather gloves used to prolong the conduction of intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for igniting various flammable objects in your shop. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearings out of.
TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.
HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.
EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off a trapped hydraulic jack handle.
TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters and wire wheel wires.
E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any possible future use.
TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.
CRAFTSMAN 1⁄2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.
TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate pop up ads appear on a computer screen. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids and for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads. Women excel at using this tool.
STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.
AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts which were last over tightened 30 years ago by someone at Ford, and instantly rounds off their heads. Also used to quickly snap off lug nuts.
AIR RATCHET: A device that smashes your knuckles once a nut or bolt is completely tightened.
PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50-cent part.
HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.
HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit. Women primarily use it to make gaping holes in walls when hanging pictures.
MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.
We still continue to get feedback about the youth event. It was a real blessing to all the youth groups who came. The Youth Pastors were amazed that an elderly man could gain the respect and attention of so many youth. I told them I taught you everything.
It was a Wednesday morning, and I told Christine I wanted to submit my resignation to Edison. Her response: God had not confirmed that with her yet. We had an agreement between us that until God confirmed the ministry to both of us, we would make no commitments to quit my job. Here was Christine's major concern: she thought we were not financially sound enough to lose my paycheck from Edison and be able to make it in the ministry. I made very good money at SCE. Quitting my job would be a significant change for us, and she was not convinced it was the right thing to do yet. She wanted to wait long enough for us to get our financial affairs in order.
I began praying to the Lord and told God that if the urging I sensed about going into ministry was from Him, He would have to confirm it to Christine also.
This is so cool; check out what happened next. That was Wednesday morning. That afternoon, we were supposed to go to a prayer meeting for the ministry, and for some reason I can't even remember, we were not able to attend the prayer meeting. So we decided to go to our regular Wednesday night service. As it turns out, God wanted us at CCCH that Wednesday night for a special purpose, because He had a divine appointment with us.
Our pastor was out of
town that day, and Gayle Erwin was teaching. He taught in Luke 9:57–62 about
three people Jesus called to follow him. One man, after
being asked by Jesus to follow him, told Jesus that he first wanted to go
and bury his father, but Jesus responded, "Let the dead bury the dead,
but you go preach the kingdom of God."
Gayle Erwin said in that culture, the dead are buried the same day they die, so in reality, this man's father had not yet died. In effect, what this young man told Jesus was, "Let me wait until my father dies, so I can secure my inheritance and get my financial affairs in order, and then I will follow you." Jesus' response was, in effect, "I will take care of your financial affairs; you follow me."
When Gayle said that, Christine looked at me, and her jaw dropped. She scratched a note on a piece of paper and handed it to me. It read, "Quit Your Job!" Gayle has no idea how God used him that Wednesday night to change the course of our lives. If I ever have an opportunity, I am going to share this with him. (You just did!)
I just want to say thank you for having been so kind and understanding. I was reading John 15, and just struck with the idea that for myself, I need to eliminate the command, "Love one another." Or more accurately, the word "love." Because when translated into the current vernacular it doesn't speak to me...my fault. But when translated, ..."be kind, be patient, be forgiving, be encouraging, be there...," it has transformed my life. Thanks for not "loving" me, but...you know.
I am eager to read your books and at this moment I have been really enjoying your podcasts here at work (Ft. Stewart, Georgia). Would you pray for me (that the Lord directs me in what He would have me do) and for my husband and soldiers like him who are deploying out of Ft. Stewart to Iraq in May for an extra long tour (15–24 months).
I have your Not Many Mighty book. I have been reading it on the bus when I go over to Agora (a downtown Tulsa church) on Saturdays. I told Pastor Jeff that if I could afford it, I would buy him a copy of the book because of what he and the Lord are doing with Agora.
I told him while I recognize that Gayle is the author of the book and also understand his sense of humor, his writing style is a little different. I have been blessed by all of your books and I do listen to you on iTunes every day. I am trying to catch up on what I have missed.
Joe Allen Doty
It has been about 11 years since my life was radically changed by a single fact that you stated at an Applegate Christian Fellowship Mt. Top Retreat at Ruch, Oregon. I had been "saved" for a lot of years, but so much seemed to stand in the way of a closer walk with Jesus. As I was probably watching the clock and wondering when we would get our next break for coffee and sweet rolls downstairs, you simply stated "If you want to find the treasure (Jesus Christ), you have to dig where it's at!" I know. Most Christians hearing that would probably say "Well, DUH!" But it was NEWS to me and it hit me hard!
If there is anything that can be described as a "Holy Spirit Cruise Missile into my heart," this was it! I realized right then and there that I had been digging in all the wrong places while looking for my true treasure. The truth is, I didn't even realize that my true treasure was in Jesus, and Him alone.
At the time, I was a modern-day "Daniel Boone," totally consumed with what I recognize now as a worship of creation, and not the Creator. My church was the outdoors, and hunting and fishing were somehow my service, as twisted as that may sound.
In fact, I was "sacrificing" that Saturday to come listen to you, but fully intended on missing you teach the next day, Sunday, for it was the last day of deer season and I had a decent size buck staked out that I was (falsely) sure I could bag, as I hadn't had any (so-called) "luck" so far that season. However, I kept the appointment to hear you teach in the amphitheater on Sunday and right there and then began an eternal change in my heart.
I turned a corner in life that day and have never looked back even once with regret. The life I live now can only be described by the lyrics we sing, "And the things of earth, will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Some people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. I was addicted to hunting and fishing, along with all the rifles, shotguns, pistols, reloading, and archery too, not counting all the paraphernalia (4X4's, retriever dog and misc. gear) that went along with it. It was like, "Hello. My name is Steve, and I'm addicted to STUFF."
To make a long story short, within the next four months my interest in hunting and fishing faded, and by the end of the year I, with joy, sold all my guns and gear against the well-intentioned advice and "counsel" of my hunting buddies. Now I was truly free!
And you know? I still drive by those mountains that I used to love to hunt in every year, and not once have I ever felt anything other than relief and gratitude to the Lord for allowing me to find His joy in my life while I continue to dig where the treasure is at!
It has now been about eight years since we met again up at Lake Bradley in Bandon, Oregon, where you sang with me the chorus line to a song I wrote. I promised you a copy of the words, so without further ado, this song is sung to the tune of the old Jan and Dean song, "Dead Man's Curve," which I re-wrote into a song called "New Age Nerd." And no… I won't quit my day job. (-:
I was staring at my belly button wondering how
My demise would somehow turn my soul back into a cow
To start this life all over only seemed to fulfill
The dread that once again around would be all uphill
So I waited for the
day when the planets would align
I waited on that mountain top turned into a shrine
I rang my bells and hummed sounding totally absurd
In that desperate attempt of a New Age Nerd.
Whoa Whoa Whoa New Age Nerd, woo woo New Age Nerd
I can't believe I ever was a New Age Nerd!
At the airport I was walking
through the gate to my plane
Three skinny guys came up to me, they looked quite insane
I was trapped alone but told that if I'd join their platoon
My twenty dollar bills would surely thrill Reverend Moon.
So I thanked for
their interest in whatever they'd said?
But I couldn't see the lies and just how badly we're misled.
Because my ways were planted deep, in the junk I preferred
In the heart of this dope… This New Age Nerd!
Then one day I seemed to recollect the gift
of a Book
Buried 'neath the dust and stuck way back in a nook
66 love letters from my Jesus the Lord
Never had I taken time to drink of His Word
My life began to change that day,
and from that new day on
The world's dark deception was no longer a con
My walk with Jesus down His path not ever detoured
I gave up the life, of that New Age Nerd!
(Repeat Chorus to Fade)
A faithful friend left this world on 17 March 2007 very unexpectedly. Although older and somewhat slower than his younger counterparts, he was a faithful helper who never gave my family any really difficult problems and also seemed eager to help when called upon. Sure, he had his moments, but all-in-all he was steadfast throughout all the changes that my family and I have been through these last few years.
Who was he? He was my E-machines T2605. It appears that his heart (the processor) gave out while we were out shopping. I don't think he suffered as it appeared to have been a quick death.
1. For Gayle's schedule, go to the Web site http://servant.org/schedule.htm/.
2. We are trying to build an accurate list of radio stations where "The Jesus Style" can be heard. Again, check our Web site.
3. Renee Settles is adding more streaming video of our messages. Go to http://theschoolmaster.org/.
4. Don't forget that you can get three free podcasts on our Web site:
The Radio Program
A Story a Day
The One-String Guitar
Blessings to you,
GN. God's Nature Set, 8 CDs (1-4, 8-9, 14-15), $25
1. The Nature of Jesus, Part 1
2. The Nature of Jesus, Part 2
3. The Nature of Jesus Part 3
4. The Nature of Jesus Part 4
(1-4 sold as set only)
5. Are You the One? John 1
6. The Last Supper, John 13
7. Dealing with Manipulators
8. The Nature of the Father, Part 1
9. The Nature of the Father, Part 2
(8-9, 14-15 sold as set only)
10. All that God Is, Colossians 1,2
11. The Jesus Style of Leadership
12. Jesus, the Great Hunter, Luke 19
13. Worship in Spirit and Truth
14. Spirit Style, Part 1 (Joy)
15. Spirit Style, Part 2
16. Hearing the Voice of God
17. Clues to the Nature of Jesus
18. Examples of the Nature of Jesus
19. Training of the Twelve
20. Peter, Before and After
21. One-Hour Seminary, Deut. 10
22. Three Great Relationships
23. Feed My Sheep, John 21
24. Portraits of Christ
25. Jesus and Family
26. Freedom and Bondage, Luke 19
27. For the Glory of God, 1 Peter 4
28. The Garbage Is Gone, 2 Cor. 5
29. The Two Prodigal Sons, Luke 15
30. Forgiveness, Col. 3
31. Hall of Fame, Mal. 3:16
32. Digging Wells, Psalm 84
33. Jesus vs. the Pharisees, Luke 5
34. Jesus Is Enough
35. Guaranteed Happiness, Matt. 5
36. Humanity at Poolside, John 5
37. Faith and Grace, Romans 4-5
38. Purpose of Discipline, Heb. 12:1-12
39. Access to God, Luke 11:1-13
40. The Urge to Live, John 3:16
41. Communion, 1 Cor. 11
Video DVD Sets
These sets are in video only.
Israel - (4 hrs) DVD $30
Home Fellowships - (4 hrs) DVD $30
Couples Retreat - (4 hrs) DVD $30
The Holy Spirit - (10 hrs) DVD $40
The Gospels - (16 hrs) DVD $40
Video and Audio Sets
These sets are available in both video and audio.
God's Nature (8 hrs) DVD $40, CD $25
Evangelism (4 hrs) DVD $30, CD $15
Leadership (4 hrs) DVD $30, CD $15
Encouragement, (4 hrs) DVD $30, CD $15
Books $12 each
Audiobooks (CD) $15
(Read by Gayle Erwin)
The Jesus Style
The Father Style
The Spirit Style
The Body Style
Handbook for Servants
That Reminds Me of a Story
That Reminds Me of Another Story
Not Many Mighty (new!)
MP3 $25 each
MP3-1. 44 hours of messages
MP3-2. All eight books read by Gayle
Call us toll free at 1-888-321-0077