Maybe it's his personality or maybe he's a bit of a rebel.
Jeff Edmondson isn't sure why, but since childhood, he's had no problem questioning God. Not for the sake of causing trouble, but because he has sincerely sought to understand the Creator as much as humanly possible.
"I think it's just my nature; I've always been pretty honest about everything," Jeff said recently from Kansas City, Mo., where he serves as manager of Barefoot Ministries, the youth publishing division of Nazarene Publishing House (NPH). We met recently at a Christian writer's conference where he shared with me details about his journey to the ministry and about one of his new projects - a book about the power of authentic faith.
Jeff grew up in a wonderful family that abided by an unstated rule: 'God said it, I believe it, that's good enough for me.'
Yet he always wanted more details. In searching for them, he grew closer to the heart of God.
"We have this fear of being honest with God, but I think that's what God wants, and that helps us in our relationship with him," said Jeff, who shares that message with the inner city youths he regularly counsels.
"It's okay to question God, but in your questioning, don't lose your faith. Allow God to work through your questions and listen for answers."
His ability to share his doubts, fears and frustration with God has allowed Jeff to develop what he calls "gutsy faith."
What is gutsy faith?
"You hear God speaking and you just obey," Jeff said.
Now, even he knows that's easier said that done.
In his newly released book, however, he offers a roadmap.
Gutsy Faith: Hard Conversations with God indicates that courage and faith can become one when we learn how to hear God speaking to us. The next step is to act on what God says.
"Our prayer time often tends to be a list of, 'Here's what I need' and I'm done praying," Jeff said. "Jesus says in Scriptures that God already knows what your needs are. That's what hard conversations with God are all about - spending time with the spirit and allowing that spirit to minister to us and listening to what God is saying down in our gut."
Jeff shares stories of contemporary men and women who struggled to trust God. He writes about Biblical figures who grew more intimate with God when they found the strength to fully surrender to Him.
Questions at the end of each chapter prompt you to consider your own faith.
Yet the book doesn't offer a cookie cutter solution with a money back guarantee.
Jeff doesn't insist that if you follow the path outlined in Gusty Faith that the desires of your heart will immediately become your reality.
What you will learn is how to trust that where the Heavenly Father leads you, He will keep you.
Jeff speaks from experience.
God has told him "maybe," "not now" and even "no" at times he believed he was in God's will and had enough faith to move mountains. God's timing has sometimes left him questioning whether he made the right decision.
Yet whenever Jeff hasn't understood why God is or is not moving, he has gotten better at listening and waiting.
"I don't know how to tell people that you've just got to get beyond fear," Jeff said. "Saying 'God called me to do this and I'm going to step forward and begin asking the questions and begin trusting God to work out the details' - that's where the gutsy part comes in.
"Even in small things, if people begin to recognize God's voice and act upon it, how incredible that would be," he said. "What woud happen to the church? It would just explode."
Here are a few of the Thought Questions Jeff asks readers at the end of the book's first chapter. Use them to assess your level of faith:
* What does it mean to you to have a gutsy faith?
* Do you think of yourself as a person with gutsy faith? Why or why not?
* Name at least five people in the course of your life whom you see as having a gutsy faith.
* What characteristics do these people possess that you would like to see developed in your life?
Gutsy Faith: Hard Conversations With God, by Jeff Edmondson (Beacon Hill Press, 2006). For more information on the book or Jeff's other ministries, you can visit his blog at http://www.jeffedmondson.blogspot.com/
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