Revolutionary, Reformist, Radical, or Anarchist?

I have heard a lot of talk about being a revolutionary. I have read numerous blog posts and articles about the need for reformation. I have read books on how to be radical in your faith…but it seems I always come back to these thoughts….

    Are we kicking against the status quo because it is cool to kick against the status quo?
    Are we trying to be hip or relevant to today’s culture?
    Are we following an urging in the Holy Spirit?
    Are we experiencing unrest in our personal faith because of a holy indignation?
    Are we complaining about the state of today’s “churches” because we see something that needs to change, or simply because we don’t want to go to “church”?
    Do we really want to see and effect change in the world…or do we just want to talk about it?

If the only reason we are fighting is simply for the sake of fighting…then we have become as the title to an old James Dean movie…a “Rebel Without a Cause”.

If all we are doing is railing to rile…then we aren’t Revolutionary, Radical or even a Reformist….we are an Anarchist.

I have questioned myself time and time again about my disinterest and dissatisfaction in today’s church culture and have come to a few conclusions.

    I am not simply trying to kick against the status quo…I really want to see lives changed into the image of Christ.
    I am not trying to be hip, current or relevant…I really do believe that God wants His people to live in community with each other, to care for one another, to share with one another, to know one another, to passionately love one another.
    I will endeavor to no longer complain about today’s church organizations…rather I will speak the truth about what God wants to do in, through and for His people.
    I will talk about God’s grace and His mercy and His deep love for us.
    I will continually tout the simplicity of the Gospel and tell people about the Good News that Jesus gave all for them, so that they might have life abundant. I will always tell of how that this thing called Christianity is really a simple faith, though not always easy to walk out, but well worth the struggle.

I have been called a rebel, a non-conformist, and a malcontent just to name a few. And to those that have called me those things I say…thank you very much! Having read about the apostles and Jesus himself…I think I am in good company.

When They Call Me Daddy!

Nothing can melt a Daddy’s heart quicker than one of his baby’s running to him arms open wide excitedly

Photo courtesy of : Photostock

yelling, “Daddy”! If you have never experienced it….you have missed one of life’s most beautiful moments.

Little girls especially can have this affect and sometimes learn at an early age that a bat of the eye lashes and a soft “Daddy can I have…” and the next thing you know you are emptying your wallet and she is headed to the mall to buy who knows what.

I have so many fond memories of my babies and those early years. It doesn’t happen very much later on in life when they get older I am finding out.

I found myself reminiscing about those times the other night and the thought came to me, “Imagine how God feels when we call Him “Daddy””. When we feel so deeply and intimately toward Him as a child to his Daddy. Think of how you feel when your child looks at you lovingly and says “I love you Daddy”, now multiply that many times over and we might just begin to scratch the surface of how our “Daddy” God feels when we do the same.

We know without doubt that He loves us so very deeply. We can see it in everything around us. He has shown it through His Grace and Mercy toward us and in His gifting of eternal life for us.

    “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” (Romans 8:14-17, NRSV; cf. Gal. 4:5-6)

I can imagine that much like you or I would do when our child call us “Daddy”, I can imagine Him saying, “I love it when they call me Daddy”!

(On God as Daddy)

The Way!

There are many people in the world looking, desperately searching for their way in this life. They are trying to find their path.

photo courtesy of Ponsulak

In their search they will no doubt run across several different paths. Some with signs shining brightly with brilliant lights and much fanfare, and some with really cool graphics touting all of the modern catch phrases. Then there is the path that has a sign simply stating “The Way”. Which path will they choose is the question? Will they choose one of the paths that are more enticing, or the one with the simple statement?

It is so very easy to become confused by all of the different paths, and for those that are on a particular path, it always seems like the right one to them and they will gladly tell you the same.

How I wish that everyone could/would choose the right path. It would make their/our lives so much better. We would have much less heartache, stress, worry and fear in this world.

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14 NIV

Thank you Father for showing us “The Way”. Help us to shine your light to light the right path to a lost and dying world.

Just Another Example!

Wikimedia Commons

This past fiasco about Harold Camping predicting that the rapture would take place on May 21st 2011, is another prime example of how preachers, prophets, and churches who spend their time preaching a message other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are making Christianity a laughing stock.

All this hullabaloo about the rapture and the impending Zombie Apocalypse is a load of crap.

Yes…I do believe in the rapture. I do believe that it will happen. But I also know that according to scripture,

    “…no no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 NIV

Far too much energy and money is being spent spreading either gloom and doom and the impending apocalypse, or the name it and claim it prosperity message. How many “if you believe it you can receive it” messages do we need? How many self help, motivational speeches do we need to hear?

The message that the world needs to hear is that Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins so that we could have eternal life!

They need to hear that there is a hope and a peace beyond all understanding!

They need to hear that this fantastic gift can be had to anyone who believes and will receive it because of the price Jesus paid on the cross of redemption!

Christianity owes the world…and God an apology for allowing these so called preachers and their idiot ideologies and the stupid things they say in the name of God.

The End Is Near?

If you are reading this after 6:00pm on May 21st 2011, one of two things has happened.

1. The rapture has taken place and you were left behind.

2. The guy who predicted the rapture taking place at the above mentioned time is a complete fraud and has been proven wrong yet again.

If Mr. Camping is wrong…it will not be the first time. He incorrectly predicted the rapture to take place in 1994.

In my personal opinion Mr. Camping is a fraud wearing the mask of a preacher making money on the poor unsuspecting public who buy into his brand of bull.

So far as I am writing this, the timeline has passed New Zealand and Australia without incident.

So…after 6:00pm central time, Tweet me @jimmyeldridge to see if we are still here! :)

Homeless, Not Hopeless!

Courtesy Getty Images

Anyone who has been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting have uttered or heard these words; “Hi, my name is (insert name here), and I’m an alcoholic.”

Well….let me put a different spin on that infamous phrase and say; “Hi, my name is Jimmy, and I am a former homeless person!”

I know what it is like to be concerned about where my next meal was going to come from and where I was going to sleep that night. I remember finding an old abandoned shack out in the middle of the woods and feeling relief knowing that I would at least have a roof over my head for a little while. I scraped up enough money by selling soda bottles and doing odd jobs at a local mom and pop grocery store, to buy some canned beans and “beanie weenies” to have food to eat. It was not a fun time.

I was 18 years old, homeless, hungry, and alone…and I kept it hidden from almost everyone who knew me. I remember thinking that if anyone knew, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. Even my girlfriend had no idea of my situation….other than I had no car or money….which sure put a damper on the whole dating thing.

My Mom and Dad and the rest of my siblings lived over 1,200 miles away and had no idea of my situation either…well…kind of. I think my Mom knew but she never let on.

I remember vividly having to go once a week and call my Mom collect to check in, (if I didn’t, she would have driven that long 1,200 mile trek and dragged me back to Indiana with her), and I did NOT want to live in Indiana.

Unfortunately, a few months into the new year of 1981, I got word that my Dad’s mom had passed, and that the funeral was coming up soon, and a plane ticket with my name would be waiting at the airport. I was excited and scared at the same time. After all…I hadn’t seen my parents in almost a year, and had been homeless now for most of that time.

I flew in to O’Hare Airport in Chicago and saw my Dad for the first time in a year. I will never forget the look on his face. It was a look of both joy and shock. No doubt joy at seeing his oldest boy again and shock at the way I looked. After all, I was 6 feet tall and maybe 150 pounds soaking wet. Much, much less than my normal 210 pound self. I was in bad shape physically, mentally, and spiritually.

It was at the time, the lowest point of my life. I had lost my job, my car, had no place to live, and had almost lost all hope. Almost!

Fortunately, we serve a God who doesn’t care whether we are homeless or not. According to scripture, He is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t care about position or wealth or even if you have absolutely nothing. He continued to call to me even in my low state, in my darkest time, until I would heed His call and surrender myself to Him completely. The rest is as they say…history.

I have had the opportunity over the last few weeks to get involved with a group of fantastic people who are making a difference in the lives of the homeless. People who are attending to the needs of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And I can tell you that these people are merely homeless….not hopeless.

There are some among them that are strong, vibrant, willing vessels waiting to be deemed worthy.

There are some among them who are experiencing God and all He has to offer willingly and without shame.

There are some among them that have experienced the move of God so strong that they cannot contain themselves…they have to tell someone…pray for someone…help someone.

So full of love. So full of peace. So full of hope. So full of the Holy Spirit.

Merely homeless…not Hopeless!

(to be continued)

Darkness is Overcome

His light shines through darkness.

His light shines through darkness.

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

The absence of all color is black, although there are those that would argue this sentiment. I have even had a few artistic folk claim that the absence of color is white and that black is the culmination of all colors. Most have forgotten what they were taught in 8th grade science, color is determined by what we see reflected off of an object. White is a combination of all colors being reflected off of an object. Black is THE ABSENCE OF ANY COLOR being reflected off of an object. Therefore in the same respect, the absence of all light is darkness.

Jesus has come into the world to abolish darkness…to displace the darkness with His light. A light so bright that darkness cannot overcome it. A light so intense that it penetrates to the deepest of depths, to the darkest of darkness….and the light overcomes the darkness.

“In Him was life…and that life was the light of all mankind.”

A life lived in Him shines light to the darkened hearts of those around us. A life lived in Him is filled with love, and that love is what shines so brightly to those in the shadows. That love, that light, overcomes the darkness and allows all of the colors of life to be shown in all of its beauty. Ask anyone who receives Christ for the first time and they will tell you that the whole world looks different…they see things in a whole new light. They see things as God intended them to be. Full of beauty and wonder.

Heavenly Father help us to live a life full of light, shining your love to all who dwell in the shadows of life.

Who Are We Reaching?

    “Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14″12-14

Who are we reaching?

Who are our churches reaching?

What are we doing about it?

Fitting In

Photography by: Elyssa Radenz

    “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
    Romans 12:2 MSG

Sometimes in our desire to be “Relevant” or to fit in, we can become lost or even trapped in our surroundings. In doing so we can diminish our witness of Christ working in our lives to the point that people no longer recognize Christ in us. All that can be seen is us…fitting into the box we have put our self in. We no longer stand out, but rather fit in too perfectly into our surroundings.

    “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13
    “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

How easily we have forgotten that we as Christians are supposed to add flavor or shine “His” light into this darkened world.

We forget that being Relevant to the world means to “have a bearing upon or being connected to the matter at hand, or being pertinent” to the conversation or the task at hand.

Our task is to reach the world with the message of hope. Our conversation should be of how He has changed us from the inside out, and how that He can change them as well.

God’s Amazing Grace

Grace.

We have heard of it, talked about it, sang about it, and gladly received it, but have we ever really thought about it?

* Grace, according to the Strong’s Concordance taken from the Greek is “the state of kindness and favor towards someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object. OR favor, kindness, or displaying a favorable disposition” it is also defined as unmerited or undeserved mercy.

David is one of my very favorite characters in the bible.

I guess I can identify with him so much because…well…let’s face it….he was a screw up…and I can relate to that.

One day, as David was looking out over his kingdom. No doubt admiring all that he was in control of, and probably feeling quite proud of himself, he saw something that really peeked his interest. Evidently Bathsheba was a major hottie and David got her digits and gave her a ring. He slept with her, she got pregnant. he then brought her husband back from war hoping that he would sleep with her and therefore cover up his transgression. That didn’t work so David had him sent to the front lines and he was killed and he then married Bathsheba. Problem solved…or so he thought.

“1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity. 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

“13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD. Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” 2 Samuel 12

Let’s recap…David Slept with another mans wife, got her pregnant, tried to cover it up, then had the man killed and then married the woman.

Deserving death, he repented. God Forgave him…before he even asked!

Unmerited, undeserved mercy.

One of the things so amazing about God’s grace is that we don’t have to be good enough to get it. You don’t have to work hard to deserve it. You don’t have to jump through flaming hoops to get to it. He gives it freely, willingly to anyone who will receive it.

We are all deserving of our fate, which is death from sin.

“1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:1-10

Amazing Grace….no longer a slave to our sin nature, not bound by death or the cravings of our flesh man.

“24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;” 1 Peter 2:24

Here are some things we need to consider.

    *It is no longer OUR sin…but his.

    *Sin is no longer our nature. We are no longer held captive to it.

Most of us though have a hard time letting go of OUR sin. Why do we try to own it? Why do we try to keep it?

Here is what we need to get into our minds….

    *OUR sin is not just covered by his mercy/grace, but actually TAKEN AWAY!

    *It is no longer ours!

    *He took them away from us, and took them upon himself.

I don’t think we realize that enough.

Unmerited, undeserved mercy!

Amazing things about God’s Grace

    *You don’t have to be good enough to get it.

    *You don’t have to jump through hoops to get to it.

    *He freely gives it to everyone.

    *It was given to you before you asked!

He is just waiting for us to realize, confess to him, and turn away from the sin that is no longer ours and turn towards His righteousness..

All of us struggle, all of us fail at times or fall short of what we believe God’s expectations are of us.

    *We don’t have to let sin define us!

    *We are no longer condemned by sin through His Grace!.

We have been granted the unmerited, undeserved Grace of our Gracious God.

A few days ago I was thinking about this, and the song “Amazing Grace” came to my mind. I had heard and sang that song probably thousands of times…but this time the first line stuck out to me.

“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound..”

That started my little brain to thinking and I posted this question on Twitter..

“What does Grace sound like?”

And one of the responses I got floored me because I had never thought of it this way.

“A sigh of relief!”

I don’t know about you, but God has forgiven me much…so I can identify with that sentiment.

I am thankful for God’s Amazing Grace!