Do These Go Together?

The Recipient Backers

How are you doing on this damp July day?

Funny. July and damp. Do these go together?
Not usually. But it’s been like that in Minnesota the past few weeks.
And sometimes life is that way – things that normally don’t go together seem to come along.
We take the good with the bad.

Our crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo is like
that I think:

Ya know, we are obviously sad that we didn’t hit the
100K mark.

Well, we knew going in this was a very rare mark to hit.
IndieGoGo had all but warned us that going over 25K was
a feat that only a few had ever accomplished
outside of sequels to hit shows, and projects with big stars
attached. So be that as it may.

We are still proud and still so grateful.

I know. Normally disappointment and gratefulness do not
go together. But in our case, I think it applies.

We didn’t hit our mark of $100K as a entire budget, but our
PER BACKER percentage was

HUUUUGEE!!!

The average contribution to our campaign has been a
whopping $130!

Our hope was to hit the $50 mark per contributor. We
almost tripled that!

So – it’s a great sign.

THANK YOU THANK YOU to those who contributed!

You truly BACKED US and we will not let you down we will take
this amazing vote of confidence and by God’s power we
will find investors who can bring the budget to the finish line!

What a great start for us!

And as of today – 62 of you believe in us and stand with us in
what we are doing.

Blown away, we are!

So we will begin this next step in the journey and – just so you
know – QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION!

Barry & Jeff

PS. Yes you still have time! If you want to go down in the history of
The Recipient annals as one having stood with us AT THE VERY
BEGINNING… then you better hurry and go to:

https://igg.me/at/recipientshow

CONTRIBUTE NOW!!!

The Right Dreams

You Can Contribute Now!

Walt Disney.

What a dreamer.

He said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

What is your dream?

If you look at my life history, I think it’s obvious that God called me to be an eternal creative force in the world. To be honest, it hasn’t been always easy. It takes a lot of faith, trust, determination and endurance not to give up, but I have always loved and was drawn to the creative world.

I have been creating plays and shorts since I was 9 years old. At age 11, my friend and I joined the local neighborhood playhouse!

Can you imagine?

I was mentored by an amazing lady named Mrs. Rolfe. I forget her first name, because we always called her “Misses Rolfe.” Well “Misses Rolfe” went to film school with “Loni Anderson (WKRP) and Linda Kelsey (Lou Grant)” and the three of them set out from Minnesota to conquer the land. 2 of the 3 did OK. (JK! Yes Loni and Linda skyrocketed to immense fame and fortune)… and my poor local theater producer was the 3rd wheel.

But don’t feel too bad for Misses Rolfe – she did quite well marrying into a man of prominence and success. She took all that she knew and began teaching us kids basics of staging, acting, blocking, directing, enunciation, evocative language. She loved classic theater. We did 2 plays every year: everything from Rumplestiltskin to Cinderella.

Well with this kind of training, soon my friend and I started our own theater right in my parents basement! No kidding! We would have 4 or 5 short plays, with popcorn and reserved seating and crayon programs we handed out to everyone!

And then I started writing.

I have always had a strong writing gift, especially when writing characters to be acted out live or in film.

With that being said, or typed….

I have been telling many of you over the past 6 months that I am working on a TV PILOT with a fellow producer that also is a Kingdom builder.

He and I have joined together, prayed and felt many Spirit-led confirmations to move forward with The Recipient PROJECT.

We have a major studio looking forward to our final product. They even told us that if we build a large fan base then they are willing to work with us.

But here’s the thing:

It’s going to take more than a few people to help us reach our $100,000 goal which will go toward producing The Recipient pilot.

You may think it is a crazy goal, but what blows my mind is another IndieGoGo project “CON MAN” (story of a man who loves sci fi so much he confuses comic world with the real world.) had an original budget of $1 million dollars and they have had so many contributors – almost 50,000 contributors they had over 4 MILLION DOLLARS RAISED in the same amount of time (30 days)

How can a CAMPAIGN whose only goal is simply to entertain people temporarily for a few minutes a week get so many dedicated contributors?

TOGETHER we have a great opportunity to create something that will influence people eternally.

I know there are so many Christian causes out there. I get it, believe me.

But today I AM ASKING you to ASK GOD how you can help us.

If God is tugging at your heart to contribute to the Recipient show, please don’t wait. We only have 30 days to raise our support, and literally this campaign is going very fast.

I hope you know that I am not a man who pursues his own selfish dreams, but a man who pursues things that make a difference in people’s lives – eternally and socially, but I can’t do it alone.

To CONTRIBUTE NOW GO HERE.

If you want to read more about THE MOTIVATION AND REASON FOR THIS PROJECT GO HERE!

You are AMAZING!!!

Here’s to DREAMING TOGETHER!

Jeff

Are You A “Great Christian?”

American Idol Vs Foxe's Martyrs

pic of Great Christian Faith Minister

I know, this is a hard one to answer.

Most ministers would say “Why yes I am a Great Christian!” And then, upon request for the reason for their enthusiastic reply they might say “Because I’m a pastor!” or “I am a Christian author!” or “I have 30,000 Twitter followers” or “Because I have an agent!”

Now hear me out. I’m not saying having those things is wrong.

I AM a minister and an author. But I don’t have a huge following. And I have never sold a ton of books. And I am not on the NY Times bestseller list.

So I must not be a GREAT CHRISTIAN. Right?

I know, you thought two different things just now. You are thinking on the one hand, “Jeff! Of course you do not need those things to be a Great Christian!”

But then also, you weren’t very impressed when I admitted that I have never been on the NY Times bestseller list, and I have never sold a ton of books.

And this thought came to your mind, “Hmm. If God were with Jeff, wouldn’t he be more successful?”

I was actually told by a Christian author with a bigger ministry and bigger following than me, “Jeff I think you minister out of rejection. You feel rejected because you haven’t sold a lot of books and you don’t have a lot of followers.”

I know. I laughed.

I laugh even more today. Because that brother was giving me a double message. And he was giving it to me with an obvious but carefully (or not so carefully) disguised “dig” but I had to tell him, “I don’t minister out of rejection, I do my best. If what I do isn’t as successful as others (him) well that’s up to God.”

But what I didn’t tell that brother was this: “Well I am so glad you judged my heart and know my heart motives. Just because I do not have a lot of followers or as big a ministry as you has nothing whatsoever to do with my level of obedience, sacrifice, character, integrity, or future reward.”

And what I will tell you now is this – I don’t feel rejected by God for what I have done or not done. I do however, feel rejected by people today with the pharisee modus operandi at work.

The irony was – sure, how could I not feel rejected by this brother for saying this to me?

“Oh, poor Jeff!” you might be thinking.

But wait – now don’t feel bad for me.

Don’t you get it?

Didn’t Jesus say “Blessed are you when men persecute, mock or say evil about you?” Well he said more than that in Matthew 5:1 -12″ So if I am blessed when people tear me down, and judge my heart wrongly, or misinterpret my motives because of their own arrogance, why would I want your pity?

I don’t want pity. I don’t want anything from you. Jesus said I am THE BLESSED ONE! I am the lucky one! Right?

Maybe God wants something from you.

Maybe God wants you to begin to rejoice when you suffer in similar fashion.

Today the church thinks big ministries, and huge followings, and tons of sales equals “Greatness” from a spiritual point of view.

If so, I am sad to say, the Lord Jesus himself would not be categorized as successful / spiritual today. You see his following dwindled. Oh, yes he rose again. Yes 500 watched him ascend into heaven. But let’s admit the fact that by sheer numbers, he was gaining 10,000 plus crowds (if you include women and children) in his first year, but losing many followers as time went along. Uh, at the Cross, only 1 of the disciples remained, and a few women. That’s pretty dismal. That Jesus must have realized he was “ministering out of rejection” at that time, right? LOL

I was talking to a DC TALK fan recently. A millennial as a matter of fact! And they were saying how much they loved Jesus Freak. The thing is, DC TALK also wrote a book about “Jesus Freaks” that was a modern-day version of “Foxes Book of Martyrs.”

When you read about these “Great Christians” the last thing that comes to mind is “I wonder if they had a big following?” or “I wonder if they spoke eloquently” or “I wonder if they sold a lot of books and CD’s?” No, you would never associate these things with those people who died horrible deaths for the Name of Christ.

In fact, the only thing that stands out in one’s mind after reading various testimonies of people of all ethnic backgrounds, races, ages, one thing IS THE SAME – they all were great at dying.

I’m sorry for how blunt that might feel.

If we were watching from heaven, I personally think even now there is a coliseum in heaven that is millions full – all at the edge of their seat, cheering you and I on!

If you could hear the cheers through the great roar of that multitude, I think you would hear the following: “Keep loving Jesus with everything Jeff! Keep being humble and honest, Jeff! Die Jeff! Die!”

When they say “Die” they are not meaning physical death, you see. Whether you or I become an actual martyr, well that is probably something preordained that no one can choose. It chooses them.

Before you feel at ease, I need to caution you, you are not out of the woods yet.

“You mean, you mean I do need to die, Jeff?”

“Jesus said we needed to die EVERY DAY!”

Luke 9:23 – read it. Jesus not only calls you and I to die daily – but he also calls you to pick up your cross.

What that really means is – we don’t choose the unique experiences that kill our ego, our pride, our earthly reputation, and our idols. But we DO CHOOSE the Cross that brings them to bear. And we do choose how we respond to the things that are brought to us by the Spirit to help us “die daily.”

And dying, we think, is stepping backward.

However, reading these martyrs stories, no one seems to care about popularity, size of platform, ministry following or any of those things that THE PHARISEES used to judge themselves and others.

It hurts when close friends betray you and stab you in the back and dismiss you for 30 pieces of silver.

Do not feel bad if this has happened to you. The one you should feel bad for is the betrayer, the idol worshipper who idolizes their own ministry above other brothers and sisters. Yes they think they are a “Great Christian” by the carnal standards of the world.

They are the ones who are only great in this world. And this world is passing away. They have no future reward to be happy about. They only have judgment to look forward to.

But if you are a “Great Christian” you can truly count it ALL JOY! (James 1:2)

 

Transformed?

Do you really want it?

[sgmb id=”1″]Everyone is talking about “transformation” these days.

Ah, but can you blame them? It’s like, a really awesome concept – something mundane (like a caterpillar) can transform into a beautiful butterfly!

Yes indeed. And so now we all want to become more beautiful, more successful, more powerful, more famous, more popular, more socialized.

But do you remember that the caterpillar had to die?

Well, we like to skip that part and move on.

You know, Romans 12 is clear – we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. And that is true. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching his disciples. He preached to them, he read to them, he corrected them, and on more than a few occasions he rebuked them. But he was always using God’s Word. Because it is in the Word where we find life-transforming sustenance.

But it is not enough to read the Word.

It is not enough to know it, even understand it. Until you put your faith to practice, you will be going in circles. Just like Israel.

Ah Israel.

Let’s just say, I have been really into “Israel in the book of Exodus” lately.

This past year – 2016, my wife and I embarked out on the adventure of our lives. At the time, I thought God was crazy, I was crazy, life was crazy. But like He has done every time in my life, because my heart is to obey (not as quick as I want mind you) we stepped out by faith. Faith is obedience to God’s leading.

I was shocked when several well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ decided to take it upon themselves to tell myself and others that “Jeff Saxton” is out of God’s will. No wait a minute, actually I wasn’t shocked.

First let me say, this was the hardest year of my Christian walk. Not because I left a ministry position and went to work for a “secular company” – no no people you don’t know me very well! I have left many churches. And every time I leave, someone feels the need to spread the news that I have walked away from the Lord.

Little bit of advice – you should concentrate on your own walk with the Lord and make that your concern. It’s the only life you can have any solid knowledge if you are in God’s will or not.

And this last scenario – I had been at Rochester Assembly for 9 years. It’s not like I was there 6 months and then “quit on God.”

No, that was in 2000. HA HA

Yep, in 2000, I left a church after being there only 6 months.

“Oh, so at least there obviously you didn’t hear God.”

These statements make me laugh because, people that have walked with God for a considerable amount of time realize how foolish it is to utter these kind of statements. The point is – you have no idea what God is leading someone to do. And secondly, if you think God never leads his children blindly without giving them exact details and without at least a 10 year tenure, you are mistaken.

Anyway so I was at a church in Omaha for 6 months as an Associate pastor. I preached monthly, I led small groups, but I was hired with the understanding that the church would send me and a group from the church to plant a new church. I was excited about that. So I agreed.

To no one’s shame or fault, the finances ended up not being close to what they had been projected for the church in 2000, and the senior pastor let me know that the church would not be able to send me as a church planter. I was sad. Now, God had changed my heart before that time and I had no longer felt a call to youth ministry. But they needed a youth pastor so they asked if I could change my heart and become the youth pastor. I prayed and prayed and got more uncomfortable with that thought. With sadness I went to the board and the pastor and let them know that I did not feel the liberty to be the youth pastor long term. They sad if not, they would not be able to keep me on staff.

So really, it was very cut-and-dry.

But to the uninformed outsider without the details, this looked like Jeff Saxton was just a quitter and not in God’s will.

A few voices in the church went to others in the church and eventually this got to me. What do you do? Well, I knew my last Sunday was coming and I had been asked to preach (as is the custom for an out-going minister) and at that service I explained as best I could to the congregation.

And in the crowd that day, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, the founding pastor of the original church where all of us had come from. There must be half a dozen churches today that come from that patriarch of a man – ELMER MURDOCH (As a much younger man, he was on staff with non other than A W TOZER!). He was in his 70’s at that time and traveling a lot. He and his wife had called this church their home, along with the original mega-church of over 4000 people. Elmer had hired me when I was 25. He never let anyone on staff who did not have seminary degree. I was the first one he hired who only had a BS. But he had spent two hours grilling me and as a 25 year old I had a great handle on the Word and I could tit for tat with him and he loved it!

So flash forward now 10 years to this moment in time in 2000. I preached as best I could, and then, when I had prayed, I stepped down.

Just then, before I got off the stage, Pastor Murdoch came up and pulled me center.

“Jeffrey” he said, “Wait just a minute I want to pray for you.”

Now, Elmer Murdoch was one of the most amazing ministers in terms of prophetic words. He operated in that gift on a very high level. And then he prayed this out loud, “The Lord would say to you this day – Some of you are here today and you criticize Jeff for leaving. I tell you Jeff has heard my voice and he is obeying me. Do not say, “Why is Jeff leaving?” but rather ask, “Should I also leave?” You should all be willing to leave anytime I say leave and follow my voice. Jeff is seeking my heart and he will be blessed.”

I know. I was stunned! I wanted to fall on the floor and hide, but I couldn’t believe what Pastor Murdoch was saying. And it wasn’t over, he than gave a very detailed word of knowledge of where my next ministry would be and who would be part of it and how God would put it together. In 2005, I was amazed how right on Pastor was.

So, just as God has always done, he has taken care of me in 2016. He has provided miraculously when there was absolutely no way! He has led my wife and I on this journey in the desert.

I know, the desert looks like “going backwards” but, is that really Scripturally true?

You know, Israel started to feel the same way right about when God began to feed them miraculously with Manna from heaven. But don’t you know, I understand Israel in even greater ways than ever. My wife and I have been eating manna. And to those who say God would never do such a thing to His children, I say this – “Be careful you don’t create a god in your own mind rather than the God of the Bible.” And I’m no Moody, or Livingston, or Amy Charmichael or George Mueller – but I know this much… church history is full of people who stepped out with nothing, stepped away from all human attachment, provision, and status, and learned to walk by faith literally.

Look – I would never take a step OUT OF GODS WILL intentionally. But I will always do my best to keep traveling this earth very light, and have few attachments and love things not as much.

And to those who say God always makes it clear and would never send his children out without clear advanced plans and provision – I say “You must have forgotten all Scripture that talks about people OT and NT who left to follow God and then knew not where he was leading other than generally leading them somewhere.”

I wont take the time – but read about Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey in ACTS 16:6-12 and then check this out:

The truth is, Paul THOUGHT he was going to Asia, but when he got there, The Holy Spirit stopped him. Then he thought he was going to another country (Bithynia) and the spirit of Jesus would not allow him access. WHAT!!!??!!

Tell me this is not in the Bible. I would love to tear it out. But until you give me clear understanding to why it should be removed, we have it still.

And then Paul had a dream. He saw a man from Macedonia who was calling out “Come help us!” and when he awoke, he told the group. And after that, they decided that this must be where they should go next.

Oh my. This is unbelievable! Put yourself in Paul’s position. No – put yourself in his attendants position! How can this be a serious missionary trip and we have Jesus more or less “leading them on a wild goose chase!”

All I can say is – if that is what God needs to do in our lives, maybe we should be looking out for more geese.

I don’t like change.

LAUGH NOW HA HA. No it’s seriously true guys.

I don’t.

But so far in my life, God has liked change. 🙂 And I’m telling you this now just to let you know, I had been living this kind of traveling life long before 2016, and I will be living it again. And if you can’t hang with that, no worries.

You can leave. But I will be here, if you ever want to come back and catch up.

I have no hard feelings toward anyone who judges me. Sometimes I get mad at God and say “Lord, I JUDGE ME! LoL and I know better! Can’t I just stay put for a change!?”

I’m doing my best. I pray daily in much more strength and need than I have in a long time.

I am so much more centered on the Holy Spirit and rely much less on me.

It’s not easy.

I really have along way to go.

But so far, I can say this:

If I had to do it all over again…

I WOULD!

Until next time,

Jeff

 

PS – I will be making an EPIC announcement in terms of what Jeff and Sylvie are moving into. It will be a few weeks but it’s coming so stay tuned!

 

Shun Lee Fong “The Saints & The Poets” Part 1 of 2

[sgmb id=”1″]Author, Producer, Actor Shun Lee Fong shares his story of growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and how he eventually discovered and pursued his calling as a minister, artist, and creative influencer in Hollywood, and then explains how his first book originally came about. This amazing weekly Journal for both artists, and Christians who desire to gain a greater appreciation for the arts.

The book by SHUN LEE FONG is titled “The Saints & The Poets” and is available on Amazon.com. 

BUY THE BOOK HERE

http://amzn.to/2jEXUUY

Or go HERE to PURCHASE “The Saints & The Poets”

Please help support Shun Lee and his endeavors by not only purchasing this book, but take a minute or two and give the book your best review!

 

 

The Coach & The Player

This is not about a Disney animated feature film, just in case you wondered…

Maybe it should be.

Actually this has to do with a Leadership Style that the vast majority of us utilize almost by default, when the opportunity comes to actually have to take the lead in something.

For those who think you are not a leader, well first of all, I know what you mean; I get it – you are not a CEO, or a Head Coach, Director, Manager or a leader by vocation.

Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the experiences of life will sooner or later test your metal as a leader just when you thought you would never lead anything or anyone.

For some, the arrival of their first-born child is that tester of leadership skills, as dormant as they might be. For others, the first time they serve on a Jury is that initiation into leadership. For others it is the first time they serve on a committee full of passive listeners. And then for others still, that terrible car accident where someone has to take action and save the life of someone caught in a wreck.

For those who lead as a vocation – I especially offer this encouragement.

The default setting on the leadership “button” of most all human beings is set to “Player” and for good reason – what else would we do on instinct when asked to lead something.

I will go so far as to say, you probably can’t coach a player without having played yourself. I say “player” of course with the best meaning intended.

The player of a football team is huddled together with ten others on both offense and defense. They are given instructions from the sideline by the “coach” who has worked and worked to help them be the best they can be personally, and as a team unit.

That coach knows the only way his team is going to have a chance to win, is if he can call the correct plays, and then hope that his players are able and ready to deliver what he trained them to do.

The interesting thing is this – in terms of fame, flash, and often fortune – the PLAYER is way ahead of the COACH.

Very seldom do you see posters of a Coach somewhere online. Yet the world’s great PLAYERS are everywhere! Well that is understandable as well – since the Player is much younger and has more to offer visually.

The PLAYER is in the middle of everything. The crowd cheers for the player. The camera’s focus on the player. The media mostly wants to interview the player.

But the irony is that the PLAYER is nothing without an incredible COACH. There are exceptions of course, but generally speaking the PLAYER needs the COACH, and cannot succeed without the COACH.

COACHES can make many PLAYERS great. COACHES of COACHES can have multiple times the impact.

And the leadership style of coach versus player is world’s apart.

The Player is in the middle of the field – and it’s all about him or her. But the Coach is on the sidelines, set aside. Yet that coach wants every player to be great. The coach has no intimidation for the skill level of the player. In fact – the coach rejoices in the skill level of each player and relies on that talent for the good of the team.

As I am going back and forth, can you see a better way to lead starting to make sense in your mind?

If you take a look at this past year, in your leadership endeavors (be they very few or very many) what has your style or approach mostly resembled?

Have you looked more like a coach, or a player?

If you look ore like a player, don’t condemn yourself there is hope yet! ha ha

But you need to take some time and decide some priorities. I found that as my priorities and passions changed, so did my leadership style. It happened almost without thinking.

In the church, we have many players. In the American church, you have to brand yourself as a celebrity player if you hope to keep pace with all of the other super-ministers out there tweeting and writing, podcasting and video blogging their way into your heart and soul. This is not all bad, you understand. I think we have to use the tools of our generation to communicate to that generation. I am using all of these myself!

But in the midst of the insane onslaught of “Look at Me” inherent in said ministry marketing requirements, where is the heart going?

What is your heart seeking? Do you seek a little fame and fortune down here for a while? Or have you become content at being a coach-like figure who seeks the best of your people around you?

Why is this a big deal?

Well, maybe it’s just that Ephesians 4 talks about pastors as being called to “equip the saints for ministry” and I’m thinking, maybe the Apostle Paul really meant that.

It’s time for coaches to learn their craft.

If we can get more coaches, we will create better players. And they will play with humility as part of the team.

And the church, is a team, if it is anything.

God bless you!

Jeff

 

Music For My Faith – Looking Back Now

The Revival of Petra - A Tale of Two Frontmen

I recall it was in the 1980’s and I had just decided to “follow Jesus” and had no idea what that meant. I guess none of us do at first. And when you are young, you don’t care. I just knew my life had changed – for the better. I was a heavy metal fanatic. I loved heavy rock music. It moved me deeply.

Becoming a Christian for me, meant I had to basically find new music. I tried Amy Grant and Michael W Smith. Not bad… but, something was missing. I should say I liked them, but my need for rock once in a while had not gone away.

And then it happened –

Someone handed me a “Petra” album. I thought, ‘What in the world is this? Some kind of fusion band?’

I decided to give it a listen. Petra quickly became my favorite band. They were in at the height of their popularity in the mid to late 1980’s. The lead singer was Greg X. Volz. You may not ever have heard of him. But at that time, his voice ruled the Christian airwaves. Even more for me, their lyrics were full of Bible verses. Funny as it sounds, as a new Bible College student, I was really ignorant of the Bible content when it came down to it. I knew Bible stories.

But somehow putting Greg’s vocals and Bob Hartman’s solid lead guitar together with Bible verses was nothing short of heavenly. And it didn’t sound cheesy either for those of you who wondered. In fact, they were mainly pieces of verses and I know for a fact that many teens had no clue.

Greg Volz could hit 4 octaves. That’s almost unheard of. And as you all know he could probably take the BeeGee’s songs another octave higher still! And then you would hear him sing a quiet ballad with a deep baritone. It is widely believed that superstar bands like REO Speedwagon even courted Greg and wanted him to sing for them.

I loved Petra. I was so excited for their next album. And nobody could beat Greg.

And then Greg left the band. And it was over. I was devastated.

And yes, I recall the news when they finally found a new lead singer. I knew whoever it was, would be there a short time because there was no way to replace Greg. In  a sense, that proved to be the case.

But then John Schlitt from Head East, had also become a Christian. It seems like every other major rock star was having these born again experiences, quitting their bands, and joining Christian bands. Well, Head East was a bit before my time, and I didn’t care.

I decided not to get the first album with John. And then I heard his voice – and now I knew I didn’t like him! “They got the wrong guy! Don’t they know that!” I said to my youth pastor. He just laughed at me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy John’s voice, it was just so so different.

Well I waited for Petra and Bob H to come to their senses and get rid of John. But no… they kept him. And they came out with a new album – “Get On Your Knees And Fight Like A Man” Wow. It was different. It took getting used to. But the 90’s were getting close, and even Greg Volz’s style of singing was no longer in style. And I kinda liked it. I kinda liked John’s deal – there was some amazing range in his voice as well, but somehow he kept it hidden most of the time – but that would soon change.

Who knew what style was in?

I became a youth pastor in 1990. My first church was in Omaha, Nebraska.

I had to drive out there several times to interview for the position, and I remember a new album Petra released, and it was produced by two Kansas band members who had also become Christians! What in the world was going on here?”

I bought the albums and listened to them driving south on I35.

“Beyond Belief” was released in 1990 – and it was massive.

And then “Petra Praise” came out right on top of it. All I can tell you is – I was blown away. I was blown away spiritually of course, as well as just – amazing and heartfelt music. Great music. Bob Hartman had stepped up his game and Petra had some of the top musicians all together – with John Schlitt. I never thought it was possible… but after that year, John became my favorite. And I listened to the emotion, the power but also the tenderness in John’s vocals from any 1990’s song. He really proved me wrong – the guy was great.

And I still love Greg and all of the early Petra stuff and for its time it was massive. But John and the Petra band just kept the hits coming, as they say.

To this day, if you ask me what song would I like to hear from Christian music in the 1990’s I am sure it would include a ton of Petra songs, mostly with John Schlitt.

Petra literally means “rock” ha clever.

But I am so glad and so thankful to have come around to walking deeper in my faith right when Christian rock was at it’s zenith and the entire world inside Christianity and out had taken notice and was listening.

They still listen today. I bet half of the top Country stars all claim a serious and devoted faith in Christ. Many of the top songs today are about Jesus and nobody cares – good music is good music.

(And no time for this in this post – but a serious discussion about the formation of Christian rock coming straight out of the hippy and Jesus movement of the 1960s has to be had here. I mean, here are a few hippies that got saved and started singing Christian music “Barry McGuire, Half of Kansas, Doobie Brothers/Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Larry Norman, John Schlitt, Kris Kristopherson, and the list goes on for a long time. Christian rock was born. And then these hippies took their guitars into church and suddenly the church and rock fought – guess who won? Thats how music in the American church changed – the base, drums and electric guitars came in and the older crowd literally felt the devil had taken over. I kid you not! You all enjoy amazing music and musicianship in todays top-notch produced church music because the hippies in LA and Woodstock got saved and wanted to play rock for Jesus!)

And to John Schlitt, I must say “You did it man! You had to trust the Lord because in those late 1980’s people were writing you off at first, but God was with you and – you blessed us all – all over the world. Thank you for your faithfulness. And thank you for amazing music and amazing talent and amazing faith. None of these areas was ever slipping. You nailed it!”

Jeff Saxton

Petra and John Schlitt fan.

How To Get Free and Go Forward

Hint: We do it together!

Hey everyone!

I have some exciting news to share with you:

As you may or may not know, I have been working on a project that I know is going to be life-changing.

I have put a lot of time and work into this, and I’m happy to announce it is finally here!

Drum-roll…

INTRODUCING: The New Pharisee Course!

You may be wondering what the course is about? Let me tell you – it’s about how to recognize areas in our lives where we struggle to live an authentic life. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we often find ourselves stuck in disappointment, pain, and discouragement.

BUT I have some good news for you- with this study, based on the 4 Gospels in the New Testament, YOU will find joy, healing and strength to live an authentic life!

I want to INVITE YOU to be part of this new course with me. It’s a GREAT course with no set time or schedule – you  work on your own timetable! How AWESOME is that! I will teach the major concepts and principles in my book THE NEW PHARISEE via VIDEO, AUDIO and pdf! It’s super easy and FUN! Here is a little sneak peak!

 

This is your very own classroom portal! You can even take notes right here!

ITS GONNA BE A BLAST!

CHECK OUT THE NEW PHARISEE COURSE HERE!

 

 

 

Stripped

The Subtle Persecution No One Talks About...

“You’ve been STRIPPED!”

Okay, we never really hear this aloud. We might have occasion sometime in our lives to hear “You’ve been Punk’d!”

But you probably will never hear “You’ve been stripped!”

Yet, the chances are much greater that you will experience this once, if not several times in your life.

I’m thinking today about that kind of humiliating, raw, numbing slap to the proverbial face when a boss, a minister, or maybe some other authority figures or even co-workers or dare I say “friends”  that you have, for whatever reason, subjected yourself to – takes it upon themselves to transfer their own lack of emotional control on to you.

Something didn’t happen the way they wanted it to. Maybe you, as the employee, congregant, son or daughter dropped the ball somewhere. Or worse, you are so good at what you do that you have incurred the “King Saul-esque” wrath upon your “David-esque” soul and now you are fleeing arrows and spears designed to hurt you, if not destroy you.

Behind your back, these authorities or “friends” attempt to unravel your reputation in the minds of others. They seek to, in a sense, strip you of your dignity.

As sad as this sounds, as I go about listening to more and more stories from people in all walks of life, I am convinced that this may be one of the most common experiences of persecution in the “free world” of Christianity. Some folks warn us that “God is going to send persecution to America!” Well, think again – it’s already here, my friend. And I am personally one who has experienced mild forms of outward persecution a few times. And I have experienced being “subtly stripped” by fellow Christians… guess which one hurt me more?

Yep – I have in some ways been forever altered by various forms of “stripping” but more on that later.

You see – the reality is that this subtle persecution happens often, and it hits much closer to home. And it happens RIGHT UNDER our noses… and it happens to us. And sometimes it happens THROUGH US!

Yes, you and I, being imperfect beings with 2 diametrically and eternally opposed natures (Read Galatians 5 – SPIRIT VS FLESH) sometimes open our mouths as the younger, less mature and impetuous Peter – and speak forth that which comes not from the heart of God, but from our ugly, self-focused FLESH nature.

And if you think I am excluding myself from this horrific but all-too-human occurrence, think again.

The good thing is, as I am wounded by the stripping, I learn NOT to repeat this horrible deed to others.

Now please understand, I am not merely referring to the crazy Pizza Delivery Manager dude who loses his cool every time there is a rush of orders and the said Manager dude starts screaming his head off at all of the drivers until the storm calms – promptly thanking every driver for a fabulous night of business. Ha ha

No, that hurts like – not at all!!

Im talking about those targeted, direct attacks upon you and I, that happen either in our presence or behind our backs, where the goal is to humiliate, to dishonor, and devalue your character, reputation and/or ability.

THAT is what I call being “stripped” and I’m thinking now it is so common, most of us probably have been stripped before – psychologically, emotionally and spiritually attacked from someone we are unfortunately exposed because we have subjected ourselves to their attacks.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN STRIPPED.

  1. FORGIVE THEM – You HAVE to forgive. You have to. For your sake. But of course this in no way means you must accept their actions. God may release you from this scenario, and he may allow a period of “regular stripping” until he releases you. The Bible says we must be patient under affliction. And it says we must pray for our enemies and do good to those who mistreat us.
  2. APPEAL TO THEM – Often I have found that in MANY cases, those who treat us this way have no idea what they are doing and when strongly and bravely appealed to in an honorable way, they will apologize, see what is happening, and change – if not TRANSFORM the way they deal with people.
  3. BOUNDARIES – Establish boundaries – INNER BOUNDARIES come before OUTSIDE BOUNDARIES! Set up a boundary inside you. Remove these people from the intimate level you may have allowed them to have previously, and you no, put them in the “unsafe zone” in your heart until further notice.
  4. LEARN FROM THEM – We all think we are above such treatment, UNTIL – we find ourselves in similar circumstance. . Unfortunately life itself is incredibly difficult, stressful, and constantly under scrutiny.  Add the Devil and the attacks that come that way, and it’s almost impossible for a human being to remain 100% innocent of taking out the humungous stress upon another. This is not AN EXCUSE at all, mind you! But it is an EXPLANATION.
  5. GET HEALING –  You need to gather some “David’s mighty men” around you – don’t isolate yourself! And don’t build up a BRUTE SQUAD of vengeful friends. The goal is healing, forgiveness, unity. And get a COUNSELOR or THERAPIST involved to help you navigate through all of this. It’s possible this may trigger the memory and perhaps re-victimization of additional past experiences.
  6. WATCH WHAT YOU VOW! Yes, we human beings, when subjected to a scenario that brings forth a certain amount of pain, have an “auto-default” “vow” machine.
    1. When this kind of pain reaches a certain threshold, the vow automatically enters our thoughts, and we COMMIT MENTALLY TO THAT VOW without even knowing what in the -harbinger – we just vowed! “I will never trust men again!” “I will never get married – ever!” “I will never trust another church again AS LONG AS I LIVE!”
    2. You can almost hear (in those words) and see this heroic figure on a white horse overlooking a battle scene and perhaps – even a Scarlett Ohara-esque cry to the sky above! (thats at least 3 “esques” for me in this diatribe. I apologize for that! “I will never use “esque” in my posts EVER AGAIN AS LONG AS I LIVE!”) You know it’s a considerable “vow” when you hear those words “EVER AGAIN, AS LONG AS I LIVE!” Thats when you know this vow took deep hold inside you.
    3. Well, I totally get it. But, don’t do this to yourself. Don’t allow the sin of someone else to lock you into relationship prison – where now you will live a monk-ish (I didn’t say “esque”!) cloistered life in that area – which often bleeds into the other areas sooner or later. Forgiveness and trust in God is THE ONLY WAY I personally have found to stay free, and even considerably abuse-free regardless of the severity of the persecution.
    4. uber-has-changed-my-life-and-as-god-is-my-witness-i-will-never-take-a-taxi-again-where-available
  7. ASK FOR FORGIVENESS – If you have stripped someone, be the bigger person – go to them and apologize! They will actually be shocked at your vulnerability. “But now they won’t think I’m perfect!” So what? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a perfect friend or even leader. I want a loving, imperfect but authentic friend.

If you have been stripped or are presently being such, I sincerely offer my prayers to you.

Did you know that God actually uses persecution to MAKE US BETTER!!!

What? How is that possible?

Well I am out of time for today, but I will show you how the abuse of others can actually SPEED YOU INTO GREATER GROWTH, MATURITY and even MINISTRY EFFECTIVENESS next time!

Jeff

Photo of King Saul – used by permission, Creative Commons License Under Public Domain – Wikipedia

 

 

Finding Your Life Direction and Purpose

What I'm Doing - Right Now

Hello to you this fine morning!

Lately a lot of you have been asking me “So what is going on with you?” I appreciate that and I know many are wanting the updates and believe me I AM HAPPY YOU WANT TO KNOW!

Please continue to pray for direction for Sylvie and I. But you know, I think we are exactly where God wants us. Let me break this down for you:

First, I would say that since at least 2011, I started naturally being drawn to the Lord in a deeper way regarding concepts, ideas, exciting visions that I began to create basic background concepts for but never had the time to bring those into greater reality.

You guys know I wrote a book called THE NEW PHARISEE and that actually was published a second time this past summer. www.thenewpharisee.com 

Now the thing is – there are foundational things in that book that are OF CENTRAL IMPORTANCE to me. And God, dare I say? Can I say that? I do believe that God inspired, directed me to write this book because it is in reality a call to return to our first love. That’s it in a nutshell.

That’s my passion – in a nutshell. That’s my calling and purpose, and really always has been. I feel that I would be disobeying the Lord if I did not speak forth His heart and revealed in His word.

And you guys know – I’m a writer. I starting writing my first week as a new Believer. I can’t help it. I switched to english major before I changed my life direction in college because I just couldn’t stop writing things. I told somebody recently “If you locked someone up in a cell for a year with nothing but basic necessities and pens and paper and books, they would feel punished. If you did that to me (when I was single, not now I would miss my wife the first hour!) I would feel blessed because my mind constantly writes and its an addiction. But it has kept me off of drugs and out of trouble my entire life!

Ha ha.

If you saw my laptop, I probably have 20 or more books in creation in some phase ha ha. But its a pipeline and I need to get this UNCLOGGED and OUT THERE!

So I’m telling you the obvious – that out passions and gifts coupled with The Holy Spirit anointing becomes our ministry and our calling.

The only thing that has changed for me is the venue. I was at an amazing church doing certain pastoral things… but I have other gifts and passions that I think God wants to utilize more and like I said, this idea began probably sometime in 2011. Now I believe I could fulfill these in a church pastor position, and that may be right around the bend.

But either way, it’s time for me to bring these things out to the public.

I don’t consider myself a success just because I sell a certain number of copies, by the way. I am a success if I get anything published AT ALL! In fact, even if none of my books are ever published in the future, just because some people might feel I have failed, well that’s there issue between them and the Lord.

Me? I will do more due diligence to publish and promote and maybe Ill be the next NYT author, and maybe not. But I don’t need to impress anyone or please anyone but my Father and that ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE is THE ONLY MENTAL PLACE I WISH TO BE AND STAY thank you very much.

See – I’m calling you up to more Christ-centered thinking RIGHT NOW!

The New Pharisee (2015, kindle and softcover) Yeah, this wasn’t just a nice little journal of personal trivia – but a clarion call to myself (and to others if they would so desire) to re-dig and clean out and maintain several life and spiritual growth WELLS.

I feel a PASSION, CALLING and DIRECTION to prioritize this – not only the book, but the concepts. I believe I could and must employ these things in my future ministry.

I may pastor a church in the future, I may have a para-church ministry, I may be a full-time author for a few months or more. But regardless, I will be doing THESE THINGS that I believe are on His heart.

Does that ring true to your spirit? As I write about keeping our eyes on Him, and seeking ONLY HIS approval even if that means disapproval from men, what will I still do?

Did not Paul say, “I am not trying to please men, but God. If I were still trying to please men, I cannot be a servant of Christ.”

That’s it. That is exactly what my wife and I are seeking to do. That may mean I need to be a tentmaker, that might mean we have more money than we know what to do with. It might mean both. I think you agree, I certainly did not make this decision because of money!

Second – regarding my current book deal. I have a Publicity manager I recently joined with. He has helped dozens of authors break through to bestseller categories and he wants to help me with this book and a future book as well. I’m excited for what God has in store.

What I am saying is this – you will see more of what God has led my wife and I to pursue on social media, this website, and other sites I have running.

I’m not trying to copy anyone else. I’m letting God create my life how He wants, how he directs, how He desires.

I covet your prayers.

If you don’t understand this, well, I’ll pray for you too. 🙂

Stay tuned RIGHT HERE because it’s getting crazier (and I mean that in a very good and exciting way as interesting doors and opportunities are presented me almost daily) and crazier and I promise to keep you in the loop.

IN FACT – would you pray about joining me and my wife in this? I don’t mean finances. I’m talking about prayer, and being part of a new community that is not limited to location or timezone.

Thank you again for your support and prayer.

Talk to you VERY SOON!

Jeff

PS – Stop living your life like a spiritual popularity contest! God does not look at us the way men do. What is esteemed by men is often despised by the Lord. It’s time for you (and I) to begin working for, living for and seeking to please AN AUDIENCE OF ONE!

That’s my prayer for you and I in 2016.