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Messy: God Likes It That Way Paperback – March 5, 2012
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"A.J. Swoboda made me laugh so hard I forgot we were talking about the Bible. I want to say this book is a 'breath of fresh air' but it's more than that: this book is a reminder to breathe. Every chapter is another glorious gulp of pure oxygen."
--Matt Mikalatos, author of My Imaginary Jesus and Night of the Living Dead Christian
"Swoboda describes what we rarely discuss--that the journey of becoming a Christlike community, a church, is not a pretty line from A to Z but a dizzying mess of contradictions and struggles....This book is a must-read for any Christian who wonders about the church today."
--MaryKate Morse, author of Making Room for Leadership
"We desperately need a major revision of how we see ourselves from God's perspective. Swoboda brilliantly portrays the picture of God wading deep into the mess of our reality, eager to embrace us fully. Messy is...inspiring, compelling, authentic, and funny."
--Mike Tatlock, Lead Pastor of Grace Chapel and author of Faith in Real Life
"At a time when young people are leaving the church in droves, Messy comes as a glimmer of hope on the horizon. It's a must-read for anybody who wants to recapture the beauty of Jesus and his messy church."
--John Mark Comer, pastor of Solid Rock Church
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Top Customer Reviews
A really liked his chapter on theology. Coming from a guy who has a PhD in theology, it was refreshing to read him say that theology is only beneficial when it leads us to Christ.
The overall message of Swoboda's book is that life is full of imperfect, hurting, broken people. And, that he believes in a God who is at work in their pain. Many people have provided many attempts to answer the questions of life's ills in the world. Some of the answers feel better than others. This book felt like an authentic way of looking at the pain in people's life. When I put this book down, I felt I had read some really fair approaches to many of life's biggest questions.
If you take the time to read this book, I think you will find it thought provoking and interesting. Definitely funny. Which I always appreciate.
Some of my favorite quotes include:
"Preaching a beautiful message of grace, we so rarely, if ever, practice it on each other. Let alone ourselves."
"Frankly, I sometimes worry that people sell Christianity because they've conjured it up in their mind as this solution that'll fix the mess of our life like some kind of drug with the long commercials. Jesus becomes almost therapeutic; like a vapor rub. With few to no side effects (that we know of)... But, honestly, my life is way messier after I started following the Jesus I met that it was before."
"Jesus asks people to be past tense people in the present for the future."
"We begin to see the Spirit at work in the church when we choose to take our idealized views of what church should be, with all of its holy trappings, out into the backyard and shoot them between the eyes."
"Paul could have started one church, stayed, grown it to be a megachurch, and been invited to speak at all the best pastor's conferences. But he didn't. He started a church, brought people to faith, then left... But, he had to be gone.Read more ›
I made a lot of notes and highlighted a lot of lines in this book. Just a few of my favorites from the book are:
- Stop looking for your church to give you a mission. Start practicing the things Jesus did at church. Probably no one will follow. That's okay. You aren't called to have disciples. Jesus is.
- You don't even have to talk about God to talk about God. When i read the book of Esther in the bible, i found out that God's name isn't even mentioned. Not once.
- Theology is only as good as it gets us to God. So too, Christianity is only as good as it gets us to Christ.
Or do read it if you are looking for answers -- as many will, as I did to an extent -- but don't be disappointed when you don't find them, or when they're incomplete, or when they're different than what you expected. Instead, revel in Messy's overarching theme: that following Jesus is often both difficult and confusing. If that statement comforts you, you should read this book. If it upsets you, read the book. Because it's true: church is messed up, the Bible is confusing, relationships are difficult, Christians are hypocritical. It's all a lot messier than most of us were led to believe. But there's good news, and it's news that this book shouts: that God gave up his deity and sacrificed himself to rescue the messed up, the confused, the difficult, the hypocrite. Maybe once we realize how transient everything else is -- how our theology is always changing, how Christian fads grow and then wilt with the seasons, how we don't have adequate enough words or brains to even begin to comprehend our God -- we can focus on the significance of God's love for us. The questions remain important, but they no longer hinder us.
With that in mind I'll rescind my opening statement: Go ahead and read Messy if you are looking to answers. You'll find some, but I think you'll find something even better: a renewed desire to focus on the important stuff -- love God, and love the people he made (see also: everyone). Get that right and the mess starts to matter less. That's what Messy argues, and it's a cogent argument. Read it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Swoboda’s, Messy, is an honest introduction to real and “authentic” Christianity. Candid and simple, it’s a book that I would have confidence giving to anyone that wants to know... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Ian
This is been one of my favorite books I have read in college. No matter where you are in your walk of faith walk a life it's things we all need to hear and be reminded of A.J. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book is an excellent read if you are looking for a fun, practical way to understand what the Church is supposed to be in our world. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I honestly loved this book, Swoboda keeps it real and blunt with us. His points are quick, witty, and straight to the point. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This book was incredible. Really enjoyed it. It is thought provoking and informative. Sometimes in life we really are messy. Read morePublished 2 months ago by cholme
This book is amazing. It tells you that life gets messy, but there is someone that likes all of the mess and is willing to help you through it all. Read morePublished 6 months ago by tim white
'Loved the book! Real and funny and so true about the messes.Published 13 months ago by Doris Sanford
Much of what AJ writes about sums up in very concise sentences what I've been attempting to say for years. Much of what I engage in "church" ha always felt off... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Elijah Scheidler