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Messy [Kindle Edition]

Swoboda , A.J.
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Christianity is messy. Unanswered prayers. Painful choices. Unresolved regrets. But there is good news: God works in the mess. He gets a kick out of these disturbing, disorderly moments because in these moments, we learn to trust Him. What if we all trusted Jesus? How would the world look different? How would we look different?

Both annoyingly honest and refreshingly humorous, Messy reassures Christians that God can reveal Himself in their clutter. Author and pastor A.J. Swoboda offers biblical insight and vivid, personal stories to redefine faith from something that must be perfect to something that is imperfect, but can still give beauty, meaning, and purpose to a messy life. As entertaining as it is challenging, this book teaches Christians what it means to trust in each other, in grace, in hope, and in a Savior who defied the rules of death. Here’s to finding joy in your chaos!

Editorial Reviews


"Swoboda reveals a Bible...filled with God's presence but fraught with blunder, betrayal, and frustration...but in the midst of all this messiness, which the author details with humor and charm, Swoboda shows how a Divine Messenger breaks through with messages of hope, massages of beauty, and safe passages of peace." --Leonard Sweet

"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

About the Author

A.J. Swoboda (PhD, University of Birmingham) is a church planter and pastor of Theophilus Church in Portland, Oregon. An adjunct professor at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, L.I.F.E. Pacific University, Canby Bible College, Concordia University, and Eternity Bible College, Swoboda is a frequent speaker at church conferences and seminars. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Evangelical Theological Society, and has written several articles and book reviews in magazines and journals.

Product Details

  • File Size: 484 KB
  • Print Length: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 30, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007Q3LVW0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it because it Begs to be Re-read March 30, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Messy: God Likes it That Way is easily one of the most worth-while and helpful books I have read in quite some time. Swoboda's witty wisdom is easy to read but demands serious rumination. The book is accessible, relevant, simultaneously convicting about how to make positive life-changes and comforting in that I'm not the only messed-up one, and (bonus!) hilariously written. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of faith and walking with God; I found myself easily identifying with moments from each chapter even upon the first reading. However, having read it once, I fully anticipate referring back to Messy as my life continues to present its varying conundrums and seasons. I suggest reading it with a pen because I enjoyed using my copy like a journal- it's really that good.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, buy it now March 30, 2012
Many people are witty. Many people are wise. Too few people are both. AJ Swoboda's book was really humorous and profound at the same time. I really appreciated his thoughts on Christianity. I couldn't put the book down.
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book May 4, 2012
By Grahm
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Don't read Messy if you are looking for answers.

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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh perspective on the Gospel April 6, 2012
This book is incredibly valuable to anyone looking for why Christianity seems cluttered, chaotic and crippled and how we each get to be completely part of that. Undoubtably a page turner, Messy: God Likes It That Way will constantly keep you asking yourself how you see the Church and how much does that conception line up with the Gospel. It brings the truth, the gentleness, the intrusiveness, and the craziness of the Gospel under a 21 century light, helping the reader to really consider if they way we live the Gospel now is the way it's meant to be lived. Often hitting incredibly close to home for me, this book is a perfect read for anyone asking the "Why's" about God and perfectly, delicately, and insightfully leaves the reader still asking. It's a messy book in a messy world about a God who has things pretty well together.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Reading April 4, 2012
Being a Christian in this day and age is not easy. It would be nice if there were clearer answers, but it's often easy, or clean. A.J. Svoboda provokes us to think about how Jesus would live today; how we are to live. This book made me laugh, cry, think, and recommit to living life in God's spirit. Real examples bring home the message of loving one another, despite it oftentimes being messy, or hard. I agree with the reviewer who said it's hard to believe this down to earth book came from a guy who has a Ph.D., but then you'd have to know the author. :-)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humor, Originality, GOOD ideas about Life April 7, 2012
God Likes It That Way
AJ Swoboda ©2012
Kregel Publications
ISBN 978-0-8254-4168-4
179 pp plus Bibliography (ppbk.)

A.J. Swoboda, our church's former College Ministry Pastor, with a PhD in Theology, always draws large audiences when he speaks, partly because of his unintentional humor and because of his creative understanding and ideas about God. His writing is equally alluring.

His thesis in Messy, God Likes It That Way is that we can understand messed up lives because God understands and still cares about us deeply. A.J. writes about messed up people in the Bible, messy churches, prayers and families. He has chapters on messy sin, sex and relationships. He also says suffering is messy (hard to comprehend and deal with, often) as is much of theology and life.

Like with A.J.'s sermons, readers will be blessed by this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing Book
Published 29 days ago by David Habel
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Titled, Messy
The writer took the time to discuss his life and his Christian walk through the Bible. Very well written and an interesting read of others that had influenced him how to study Gods... Read more
Published 1 month ago by PEEWEE
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable!
I found this book excellent. I grew in understanding of Jesus and the Bible reading it. The author's writing style is very readable and led me in ways I would not have anticipated. Read more
Published 6 months ago by James P. Monast
5.0 out of 5 stars The awkward truth about Jesus and what being his follower is like
I met Jesus at 39 and continue to realize how I still have so much to discover when I read a good book like this one. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Larry Briggs
5.0 out of 5 stars .laughter makes it's point
Great read for Christians. He gets his points across with humor while at the same time showing us a different angle for us to look at it from -- a different point of view.
Published 8 months ago by Joelle Hill
2.0 out of 5 stars Messy book
I would have given it a one but there were a few sections that caused me to consider. This is the most sacrilegious, trite, disrespectful book by a pastor-theologian I have ever... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Wspeedy
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Witty and captivating, with lots of funny and light-hearted moments!

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in discovering Christianity the way it really is.
Published 12 months ago by Nav-man
4.0 out of 5 stars Messy God Likes It That Way.
I was not sure what to expect of the book. However, I simply got right into it. It measure up to what the book club member to who recommended it said it would. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ceola Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars A hipster's take on the bible.
I went to visit friends in my old stumping grounds, Portland OR. They told me of the "Hipster Church" they found and asked me to go with. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jay Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
So many good pieces of information in this book. You will want to read it a few times in order to get all the good words. Highly recommend!
Published 17 months ago by R. Woidyla
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More About the Author

Dr. A. J. Swoboda is a professor, author, and pastor of Theophilus ( in urban Portland, Oregon. He teaches theology, biblical studies, and Christian history at George Fox Evangelical Seminary and a number of other universities and Bible colleges. Previous to this, A.J. served as a campus pastor at the University of Oregon. His doctoral research at the University of Birmingham (U.K.) explored the never-ending relationship between the Holy Spirit and ecology. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Finally, A.J. is the author of Messy: God Likes It That Way (Kregel) and Tongues and Trees: Toward a Pentecostal Ecological Theology (JPTSup, Deo). You can find his website and blog at, or follow him on Twitter @mrajswoboda.

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