Friday, September 21, 2007

Ern Baxter Interview from New Wine - July 1980

I was excited to find this short interview with Dr Ern Baxter in the latest New Wine Magazine I have been printing off. It contains some interesting personal information about what Ern was doing in 1980 but more interesting was some comments he made about moving to Mobile, Alabama and his relationship with Charles Simpson. Although he doesn't label the relationship, it is quite clear the relationship was an apostolic one. I find it tremendously challenging and stirring that even at his mature age, Ern Baxter was open to the prompting of the Spirit of God to move across the nation if God so said. The natural inclination of most is to settle and build a "nest". Not so in the Kingdom of God.
Hope it proves interesting as I found it. Here is the transcript of it;

New Wine: In your last Update, you shared about the tremendous improvement in your health. What further improvements have you experienced since then?

Ern Baxter: First of all, I would like to express my pleasure at the positive responses I received from New Wine Magazine readers regarding my Update in the January 1980 issue. It was exciting to see the concern among Christian men - perhaps more specifically among their wives, who were concerned about the welfare of their husbands. My wife Ruth enjoyed responding to enquiries and kept quite busy sending out bread recipes to many of the wives.

As far as my personal health is concerned, my sugar has stabilized and there is no sign of the diabetes. It is such a relief not to have to poke myself with a needle every morning for an insulin injection. Up to now I have lost forty pounds. In fact I have been without those forty pounds for several weeks now and I am keeping them off. Ruth and I are walking regularly - morning and evening.

I am also getting in some vigorous racketball. So as a result of these improved developments and activities, I am very alive and alert physically - much better than a year ago when it was difficult for me to even walk without angina pain. I don't want to give the impression that the remarkable measure of restoration I have experienced is some kind of return to youth. I have very significantly upgraded my physical condition but I am still semi-bald, the vacancies in my mouth have not sprouted new teeth and this upgrade of health has not eliminated any wrinkles. But I am praising God for my ability to age a little more gracefully than I was a year ago. Because of all this I continue to be a bit evangelistic about the necessity for taking care of your health, especially to young people.

New Wine: Could you enlarge upon the importance of paying attention to good health when you're young?

Ern Baxter: The problem is (and I experienced this myself), when you are young you can abuse your physical machinery and seem to get away with it. But it is amazing how much it catches up with you. It's like sin. Paul says that you are heaping up wrath against wrath. It piles up and then all of a sudden it hits you. This is happening to many servants of God. My concern is to find a way to get young men and women to see that now is the time in their lives to build some real life insurance into their physical bodies.

New Wine: Could you let our readers know some of your reasons for moving to Mobile?

Ern Baxter: First of all, let me say that moving is always rather painful and traumatic; but this move was made much easier by my improved physical condition. I am amazed at my physical responses as opposed to the last move we made when I was not well, which was terribly burdensome. We're in the process of getting settled and enjoying our new home.

I think that my coming to Mobile was something in the spiritual evolution of God's purpose for me. I had moved from Fort Lauderdale to Southern California a couple of years ago to do some teaching at the Morris Cerullo School of Ministry. About six months before we decided to move again, Ruth and I had been talking and we felt that a change was coming for us, and we both felt very strongly that we ought to consider Mobile as our permament home. I mentioned this to Charles Simpson, who is senior pastor of Gulf Coast Covenant Church in Mobile, while he was visiting with us during a time of ministry in California and his response was a very, very positive one.

For several years I have felt a closeness to to Brother Charles - in fact that feeling dates back to our first meeting at the Seattle Charismatic Conference in 1971. Later on when I came into covenant relationship with the other teachers, including Charles, a real warmth developed between us as our relationship continued to grow. While I am the oldest member of the teachers and Charles is the youngest, I have no problem looking to him as a pastor in my life. I don't want to sound audicious, but I also hope to be able to serve him in some way through my pastoral experience and support by moving to Mobile.

I also felt that in my latter years of life I need to be in some kind of stable situation which could serve as a base for whatever service was left in me. Through the years of covenant relationship with the teachers, I have also grown close to Don Basham, Editor of New Wine Magazine and have had an interest in the success of the New Wine Magazine. When God providentially brought Don to Mobile with New Wine's move here, I felt that there was some significance in that for me - and when the opportunity and time seemed to be right - Ruth and I made the move.

There was another factor in our decision to move. Having moved around the country and the world for so many yeasr, being responsible for establishing and strengthening churches, we often missed out on the kind of church life in which we could take refuge and find security, rather than bearing the main responsibility for the church. We felt that Mobile offered us the personal sense of spiritual and church security that we were in need of.

Since coming to Mobile I have only been confirmed in feeling that Gulf Coast Covenant Church is a most unique church. It pretty well represents what I have personally envisioned as a community of Christian people in church life through the years.

New Wine: What are the practical outworkings of your role in the ministry here in Mobile?

Ern Baxter: The brothers have graciously received me. I'm serving in the leadership of Gulf Coast Covenant Church which permits me the opportunity of sharing from my pastoral experience and the ability to lend what support I can to Brother Charles and the elders. From time to time I will be sharing with those who are part of the church in it's public meetings. I hope to become more involved in New Wine Magazine as opportunity affords, and I also hope to have the chance to do some writing.

New Wine: What subjects will you be directing your attention to in future writing and study?

Ern Baxter: As soon as I get settled from our move, I want to zero in on two things presently in my mind. The response to the January Update stirred me to the point of feeling that rather than trying to answer lettersabout my remarkably improved health on an individual basis, I would like to put something out in book form - reporting my own experience, offering some concrete suggestions and giving some counsel as to how people can upgrade their physical, spiritual and mental health.

I also carry a concern to examine biblical facts concerning nations. We are presently witnessing a great deal of interaction and conflict among the nations, and as we search for reasons for this, we wonder about itand take sides on the issue. But the Bible is very clear that behind national and international problems is one Whom the Bible calls the "God of the nations". These are the two subjects that I have assigned myself to for the year.

Also the other teachers have asked me to work on the preparation of a training curriculum - training material for men who are emerging into various aspects of Christian leadership. We don't know at this point just what form that will take.

New Wine: Do you have any upcoming speaking engagements around the country that you are particularly excited about?

Ern Baxter: My travelling has been reduced considerably due to my move and due to what I feel are more demanding priorities. However I am looking forward to spending the month of September in South America. I am also doing some travelling and speaking at leadership conferences. But at the present I would like to apply myself to getting settled here, finding more about what God wants me to do.

New Wine: What priorities do you see facing you personally on the national level with the Body of Christ?

Ern Baxter: My personal priorities probably fall into two categories. First I feel that in the beginning God called me to be a proclaimer and this is what I must be involved in. My field has been preaching and proclaiming and I'm looking to God for the kind of platform that will enable me to best proclaim the Word of God.

I especially feel it is a priority to proclaim some of the great objective truths of redemption. So often we get bogged down in the "how-tos" and lose sight of the great objective realities that give us the ground to build up the Body of Christ.

Then I feel it is a priority to prepare the people of God for whom I am responsible to face the obvious world crisis in which we find ourselves - one many Christians are ill-prepared to face.

New Wine: Do you feel a responsibility for the Church on a national level to speak to the nation in some way?

Ern Baxter: Yes but I believe that proclamation without a solid platform can sometimes be just a noise and that's why I am greatly concerned about the disunity among the people of God. It's great to be able to declare the concepts of the Kingdom and declare the sovereign purposes of God - His right and intention to reign - but if in actuality we don't form behind those concepts a solid block of unanimity then the concepts fall to the ground for a lack of a platform. I sincerely believe that God will precipitate whatever crisis is necessary to bring that kind of unity about because I believe it is His purpose to have a voice to the world through the redeemed community.

If the world is going to hear the voice of God, they're going to hear it through the people of God. It's not going to be some voice out of the clouds - it's going to come through a very real living witness and demonstration of God's people as they relate to one another under the Lordship of Christ. I believe the bankruptcy of the unregenerate community makes them a ready audience for what we have to do and teach.

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