You Are Weak…

How we deal with each other

hypocrite

We have these convos every day about Christians we know who are really weak:

“Oh did you hear the news about so-and-so?!”

“Are you kidding me? How could so-and-so do this-and-that?”

“I know! I think we better spread the news about so-and-so!”

Well… okay not really.

It’s not exactly that obvious. Or, is it?

Of all the things our Loving Heavenly Father has to put up with 24/7 – this has to be one of the most aggravating.

He has to watch us fight and devour and gossip about one another rather than think the best and speak the best of one another behind our backs.

Ultimately, to speak of another’s weaknesses behind their backs with little intention to help that person and to inspire and invest in that person – shows one thing, and one thing only…

YOU ARE INSECURE AND SELFISH!

Sorry. Thought I would not sugar coat it.

But hey, maybe that is YOUR weakness. And of all sins, the sin of judging is the worst. If you claim to see clearly a speck in your brother’s eye, first make sure there is no PLANK in your own. And that PLANK is – the sin of judging your brother or sister. (Matthew 7:5)

But how would we interpret our childish behavior from the point of view of Our Father in Heaven?

Oooo. That’s good. Try looking at the way we talk about one another from the place of a PARENT.

When your kids come up and start talking about each other, of course, you listen. There may be truth to what they are saying (almost always there is truth) and you may need to know valuable information. But beyond the truth – you don’t want your kids to turn into tattle-tales and sibling police.

Jesus put up with this even with the Twelve disciples. Or maybe you didn’t notice in the Gospels that The Twelve didn’t always “get along” and in fact – James and John likely fought and scraped to be #1 and #2 Disciple… at first. But when Jesus saw their childish behavior, he usually corrected them and told them “the greatest of this group will be the one who serves this group.” (Matthew 23:11)

The most arrogant aspect of  speaking of your brothers and sisters with critical judgment, is that you are weak too – just maybe in a different area. But when we start cutting down each other, Paul said “be careful lest you devour one another.” (Galatians 5:15)

I think this is probably the NUMBER 1 killer of God’s Kingdom expansion – looking for and exploiting other’s weaknesses without also praising them for their strengths. And I also think that it’s the enemy’s go to plan. Because – it works so amazingly well. And it appears (on earth, not in heaven) as if no one is doing anything wrong.

In high school, I did not like these people. I was not in the “in” crowd, and when the “in” crowd discovered this, like many other “fringe kids” I was persecuted, mocked, uninvited. Well, I found out some of them were Christians. So guess what? Jeff Saxton didn’t think much of Christians. But even as a 15 year-old, I knew that it was not Christ-like. The actions of these immature, insecure Believers did not turn me off from Jesus, but they could have very easily.

As a senior in high school, out of nowhere I blossomed. I grew 11 inches, and my muscles seemed to pop out everywhere, when as a sophomore I was so short that the football coach said I couldn’t play because they didn’t make football pants small enough to fit my short legs.

During that incredible, indescribable 11 inch growth spurt… I was constantly eating and losing fat. My legs hurt at night as the bones literally cracked and popped in expansion.

I was never into girls because I was always short, fat, unpopular, and ugly.

As a senior, I was taller than the bullies that used to beat me up, and girls that laughed at me were staring at me and smiling. Popular guys that used to mock me were inviting me to parties.

And you see the funny thing is this – I SAW THROUGH THE SHALLOWNESS OF IT ALL.

God called me to ministry at age 19. I won’t go into detail but, it was the most incredible and amazing series of experiences. Does God still speak through burning bushes? You bet!

But of all people, he called Jeff Saxton.

He really has a sense of humor. But one thing that I believe he worked into me is this value of human decency, and speaking well of one another.

And so yes my radar for such behavior is very advanced. Its a strength, in that sense. I have many weaknesses, in case you didn’t notice! LOL

But here’s the thing: As Christians, and even more Christian leaders, it’s time to be counter-intuitive in this area.

I get it, gifted, talented, experienced, anointed people intimidate us.

But look – what you THINK is the way to get elevated? Well, that is the way also to be ETERNALLY DEMOTED.

And this tendency to be afraid to have others think the best and speak the best of these people that intimidate you, well it will actually destroy what you are trying to build.

Now if you are building your own following, well, you can do that. It’s nothing that will be giving you eternal rewards, so be it. That is your decision.

But the one who is not afraid to let others be spoken well of and thought of in the best light (Yes I know – they have weaknesses – just like you) well, that person will truly advance and build the Kingdom.

DO YOU WANT TO BE A KINGDOM BUILDER?

Then repent. It’s time to actually pray and seek God and turn from your wicked ways.

“Is it really that wicked, Jeff?”

Like I said, I am as weak and guilty as anyone. The difference is I actually go to God, get on my knees, repent, forgive, and then seek to do good to others who don’t reciprocate.

“Are you saying this just to brag and act like your better?”

No. I am not better. And second, I am doing this because I am trying to please an audience of ONE.

The question is, who are you REALLY, trying to please?

Hey, I am here to help, here to listen. And I am no better.

But I am trying to obey.

I am a weak, imperfect servant who seeks to put into practice the words of Christ and the Bible OT and NT.

And I am NOT doing this to brag, grow a ministry or church, write a book or get famous.

I am doing it to please the Lord.

That’s it.

Thanks for reading.

Jeff

 

 

Love Works

What's Gonna Work?

Isn’t that how the Daycare song goes?

Well my wife Sylvie (who is an amazing Daycare consultant) sang a catchy tune with her kids when they were cleaning up and actually, it goes like this: “What’s gonna work? Team – Work!”

Yeah, so…

I was in church few weeks ago, and was telling a story about my early days in youth ministry. In particular – I told the story of 2 really strange looking guys in one of my Minnesota youth groups back in the day.

These 2 guys were like, college age and my high school group ended with, well, graduating from high school. I couldn’t figure out why they were coming to my youth group? They wore black, gothic jackets and overcoats. Oooo! (Hey no judgment I know pastors that dress like that but just keepin’ it real how I felt about these 2 here!)

Well, we had a lot of pretty blondes (Yes, pretty brunettes too, quite honestly!) attending, and I put two-and-two together. Yeah I’m real quick!

So then I asked some of the high school guys who the two college dudes were. And I asked why they kept coming late but never sitting up front always in the very back. (By the way, to me, the two most powerful places for people to sit is the front row and the very back – you know, if you want the Lord to get your number!) The high school guys ‘in the know’ told me that these guys were making their way through the blondes. I knew exactly what that meant.

The YOUTH PASTOR/SPIRITUAL DAD in me became – white hot FURIOUS!

So the following Wednesday night, the 2 dudes came walking in again. I could hardly think during the entire worship service, and I did pray for them, and for God to just convict them. When I got up to tell some funny stories and then get into my message, they were laughing and kinda listening.

But I felt HATE – RIGHTEOUS ANGER grow inside me. As soon as the meeting was officially over I planned to physically beat them and physically throw them out of the meeting! (And let me remind you – I had every RIGHT to do that since – THEY WERE NO LONGER IN HIGH SCHOOL!)

So, after the youth meeting, I talked to some youth and then – I saw the 2 dudes getting ready to go hang with the blondes, this was my chance!

I went directly at them! I felt LED BY THE SPIRIT, oh yes I did…

Now, this may sound really confusing, but what I am about to say next is, to me, the normal Christian life and, if we are honest… what we all go through when we let the Spirit fill us and lead us:

I walked up to these 2 dudes with righteous anger inside, and when I laid my eyes upon them, I felt a strange sensation of love and compassion overtake my human emotions of righteous anger. (Again, these guys are like stalking some of my girls!)

I looked at them both, and felt the Spirit lead me 180 degrees the other way. YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!

I listened to them, I laughed with them. They forgot about the blondes (at least for a few minutes) and we started talking about maybe a college group that they could attend and I asked to pray for them both right there; which I did.

Then, next Wednesday (youth group night) to my dismay, THEY CAME AGAIN!

“Now what?” I thought. I didn’t know what to make of it. But, as the night progressed, we had a powerful night of worship, and kids came forward to give quick “shout-outs” to the Lord. It was totally unplanned.

And then I noticed out of the corner of my eye, one of THE DUDES, coming up to share.

Ugh.

THE DUDE came up to me, stood right in front and turned and faced everyone! He began to share how he had been hurting Jesus. He began to not only ask Jesus to forgive him but to come inside him!

He began to weep, and then sob! I put my arm around him and we all prayed for him!

What a change! It was a great night.

And those blondes the following few Wednesday nights began to confess sin and repent and pray and start bringing their Bibles and began to jump up and down through our worship. (We also attended AQUIRE THE FIRE and another youth conference and that really helped) and the 2 DUDES were allowed to participate by myself with accountability of course! LOL

So – needless to say, this group was messed up at the beginning of that year, but in 6 months it was like revival. ON THEIR OWN, these kids organized (Along with some super awesome adult volunteers) monthly ALL NIGHT PRAYER MEETINGS as well.

It was a super year.

And was it because of Jeff Saxton? No. I almost ruined it. It was because I was willing to let the Spirit lead.

And THE DUDES? Well, one went to the Army the following year and we prayed for him as God worked huge things in his life. And the DUDE WHO REPENTED? He became a volunteer leader (after a few months separation) and eventually went back into that SAME YOUTH GROUP and served as an assistant youth minister!

In fact, he eventually met a girl and they were married and then they both worked with youth at that very same church!

Can you imagine that?

And I was going to hate on him and kick him out.

And here’s the thing: righteous anger really does very little good, and often does a lot more bad. And if you look at the model Jesus set before us – he reserved righteous anger for religious leaders.

My advice, if you are looking for the answer as to what truly is GONNA WORK…

what is going to really create meaningful and lasting change in sinners?

Well, I know that anger never really worked on me. There are people that didn’t like me and let me know that when I was a wild sinner.

And you know what, a few of them STILL DON’T LIKE ME ha ha ha!

Hmm. That’s messed up.

Honestly, if you are not getting the results you are looking for through rules, being strict, pointing fingers, and giving out discipline and punishment with no grace and compassion…

TRY LOVE.

It works.

Until next time,

Jeff

 

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.”

UPDATE: This brother has since come to me in Christian love and forgiveness and asked me to forgive him. And also to explain what he meant. And yes, I totally forgive him. And I asked him to forgive me for you know – putting this out there publicly. It was a very small thing I really believe and even then it didn’t sting for more than a few minutes.

But honestly I was surprised at his desire to make sure we were good between us. Wow. Now I have to admit that I have moved this man of God from my “not very kind person” list to my “totally cool and humble” list.

I cannot tell you how rare that is. 

AMAZING. You are. And I am so glad to know there is someone so willing to be like Jesus and come asking forgiveness. This clearly shows whatever he did mean by his comment, it was not coming from a place of pride or arrogance. And if it was, well we all have the flesh and we all battle our own stuff.

Yeah, I do have those lists. But they are only there to have boundaries. What we must do is not allow those boundaries to become walls. Boundaries help us minister out there to people and be able to love even if they treat us horribly in return.

But walls keep God from breaking through to us. I don’t believe I have walls. But in times like these I always want to make sure.

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!