Monday, August 19, 2013

A View from Jeff Slaughter's Window - It's All True - an Interview

“I hope God will use the stories I share to light revival fires in the hearts of other believers.” 
This is a statement Jeff Slaughter shared with me as we were saying our goodbyes after our time together discussing his new release – a book entitled, It’s All True.  This is a book that tells of many incidents throughout Jeff’s life where God proved Himself faithful in every circumstance.  Indeed, at this point in his relationship with God, Jeff wants his readers to know, “[God] knows the intimate places of our hearts and how to touch them.  He knows just what we need.”

Join me as I visit with Jeff Slaughter and discuss It’s All True.

Me:  I want to open with a quote from you book:  “I was wondering what God was doing.  First my daddy was diagnosed with cancer, and now I’d lost my voice.  Two of the things I love most were being taken from me.” 

Although this story chronicles a major portion of your life in detail – the opening chapter sets the stage for God’s tremendous invitation into every aspect of your life.  I lost count of the number of times He spoke to into your life, “blatantly, strategically and intimately.”  Is there one instance that was a “landmark” in your spiritual life?

Jeff:  Hope,  and Redemption are the thing God offers to His children.  You can’t focus on whatever event seems bad or tragic, but you must focus instead on the good God alone can bring out of it.  In the middle of each event, God pours out His grace and gives you strength that you need in that moment.
The  first landmark event in my life was when my sister looked up to me after talking with her daughter Mallorie,  and said to me, “start singing.”  That’s when God asked me,   “Do you believe today?  Will you praise me from sunrise to sunset today?  Do you believe there is nothing I can’t provide today?” Worship is how we live our lives. Singing is a natural form of worship but worship  is much more than that.,  It is something that encompasses all of our lives and how we live it.

The second landmark event occurred  when I led worship at Mallorie’s service.  I had to open my mouth and sing when I felt like screaming and God gave me the strength and grace to lead those people in worship.

The third and very powerful landmark event was when I was allowed to view the Habakkuk scroll in Israel. It was so personal that I just stood there and wept.

The only way to have and be able to share true compassion is to know where someone has been – to have walked through a similar experience allows you to be able to show genuine compassion.

Me:  Other than song publication – It’s All True – is your first and only full length book. What is the most significant difference in these publication processes?  What has this publishing process taught you?

Jeff: I worked harder on this book than I ever worked on a song! The Lord used this book to work a whole other level of healing in my life.  The first chapter was written back in Oct 2011 and the second chapter shortly after that.  

When I was first offered a contract, I thought it was a scam!  I had no peace about it.  It wasn't until September 2012 that I knew the Lord wanted me to go forward with the project. Randy Winton went back to the publisher almost a year later and they were still interested in the project!  

We wrote the rest of the book between October and the following March.  We even wrote during the holidays! 

There were days where we just wept over the things God brought to the surface.  I want people to feel the Holy Spirit’s work in my life as they read.  I poured all of myself into this work.

Me:  You state in your book that in the world you grew up in this was true:  “…football, family and faith…mostly in that order.  There was little for kids like me who had a passion for music.”  Everyone was pretty resistant to your musical pursuits…but oh how that talent ministered to them in later years!  Was that resistance to embrace the talent with which you were gifted another part of resisting God’s purpose? 

Jeff: Walking by Faith is hard!  The flesh wants to have a safety net.  When I was going through the Master of Life Bible Study, I had a defining moment spiritually.  It was as if the Lord was asking me to, “Step out of the boat and go!”  I learned that when God asks you to do something He provides the way to do what He’s asked you to do.  Today, when I lead worship and I see people who won’t fully enter in – I want them to know that as adults we have to model our faith and worship for the children coming behind us.  God made us to do what we love. I think our resistance is born out of fear.

Me:  I thought the story about your fraternity dues was hilarious!  How your mother went from tearing you limb from limb to urgently needing to get off the phone to tell a very talkative neighbor about you being elected pledge class president!  Tell us about your mom.  (the scene where she bids farewell had me sobbing!!!)

Jeff:  (LOTS of laughter ensued with this question! ) That's the way my Mama was.   I was the only boy and the baby I knew I could turn her on a dime!
Me: Quoting from your book:  “This is what you thought you always wanted…but I made you for more than this.”  Why oh why do we all accept things that are so much less than what God wants for our lives?  Is it because… “…there are no real long-term guarantees, you’re never really settled.”  Do we settle for less because we are always longing for what we perceive to be “settled”  or stable?  (this really hit home with me!)

Jeff:  Fear keeps us from doing  what God wants us to do. We are afraid to accept more from God because we don’t feel we are worth it.  God sent His only Son to die for you. He loves you that much.  He wants to bless you.

Me:  “Do you believe today?”  God spoke these questions into your heart in the wake of a very significant and terrible tragedy.  Do you think believers often relegate praise to God when everything is going well?  Why or why not? What makes the difference in whether or not we praise God or curse Him when our lives are on the ash heap of devastation?

Jeff:  You have to shift your focus to Him!  You have to claim His promises and encourage yourself in the Word.  Often we ask “what have we done to deserve this?” and we become bogged down in despair if we shift our focus from God to the problem we are facing. Sometimes we never know why things happen.  Sometimes our choices open the door to consequences that are hard to bear.  There are deeper levels of grace available in the time of need.  It’s waiting there for us when we come to the end of ourselves.

Me:   “As long as there is one more bridge to cross, one more mile to go…I’m goin’ go.”  This is a statement made be a persistently faithful man – a man persistent to love the unlovable. This chapter was a very powerful testimony – and years later you are allowed to see the fruit of the labor he poured into the lives of others.  Who has been the most persistently faithful in your life?  (besides God?) Do you still have a relationship with that youth facility or a similar place?

Jeff:  The most persistently faithful  person?  My mother.  She poured out the Lord’s love to me and everyone around her.  I want to encourage others the way she did. I want to love others like she did.  She was consistent in all things and she always encouraged me to do what the Lord wanted me to do in my life.
The youth center in this story has since closed and is no longer in existence. 

I recently discovered Toby Mac’s ministry to feed the homeless and have participated in that.  You have to learn to encourage people in a different way – to meet them where they are.  This keeps you grounded. Makes you grateful.

Me:   When your dad was very sick and you had to leave his side to travel to Memphis to present songs you had yet to write you said, “I am reminded of how He provides for me when I simply stop, sit at His feet quietly, and allow Him to do what He already wants to do anyway.”  Do you think all believers struggle with this at some level throughout their relationship with God?  Why or why not?

Jeff:  It’s not our nature to be still and silent before God.  Even in church we think we have to fill all of the spaces – with music, preaching ect…. We need to learn to be still and know God.

 I remember one Sunday my pastor created complete silence in the building.  No air conditioner, no music, no preaching – silence.  And he said he felt we were to be still before God that day.  After the first fifteen minutes,  the glory of the Lord descended on that place. You began to hear people crying and praying. It was a very powerful experience. 

You are most successful when you spend time alone with God. And I don’t mean financially or physically but in the areas of relationship with God.  He wants us to enter into a relationship with Him.

I learned this in a powerful way when I left Lifeway in 2011 after 16 years of working together.  I really had to press into God.  That is when He can transform our lives.  Christians neglect opportunities to do that.

Me:  “It’s March 18, Jeff and I have redeemed this day for you now.  You won’t think about this day the same way ever again.”   No spoilers here  but do you think God purposefully redeems times and events for us as humans so that we will learn to trust Him in all things?  Again, I think it’s an area where we miss a profuse amount of blessings!

Jeff:  (this question generated both laughter and tears from us both!) The Lord loves to show out for us – to give us “Christmas morning moments” – to show us how extravagantly He loves us.

Me:   Mallorie, your painful relationship with your uncle – the book chronicles some very difficult and painful moments in your life – yet God is faithful to redeem each one in one way or another.  (I loved the way Mallorie’s church worshipped!!  I cried!!)  Is this the take away you offer readers in this book?  What is your heart’s desire that readers walk away with after they reach the final pages?

Jeff:  Redemption!   In the best and worst times we place our hope in the fact God has promised to bring good out of it.  Joy does come in the morning.  Don’t let go of that!  You have to choose to hold on to your relationship with God!  Choose hope! The stories in the my book are true. God is Sovereign . It is my prayer that God will use my stories to light revival fires in the hearts of other believers.

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