[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.
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.
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…
Until next time,
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!