Gayle Erwin's Newsletter

October, November 1996 Newsletter

Strange Bedfellows

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 "tolerance."

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 that!

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


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 conversation.

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.


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 way.

Jereme Dittmer
Jacksonville, OR

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
Shreveport, LA

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.

Rona Olsen
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.

Katherine W

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 His creation.

Ray Scott
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.

Wendy Smith
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.

Scott Waltenbaugh
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
Livermore, CA

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.

Gayle Erwin

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.

Lee Thomas
Aloha, OR

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.

Greg Buzek
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.

Chris Sackett
Rochester, NY

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.

Chris Pearson
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.

Wayne Jacobsen
Visalia, CA

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 again.

Kori Fankhauser
Olympia, WA


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 light.

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 for yourself.


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 attention.
  1. 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 or call at 661-726-1141.

  2. "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

  3. 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.

  4. 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


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 article.

Servant Quarters newsletter is sent free upon request.
Published approximately bi-monthly.