Messy Spirituality: God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People

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'I Guess I'm Not a Very Good Christian . . .' Do you feel like: I don't pray enough I don't read my Bible enough I don't share my faith enough I don't love God enough I'm not committed enough I'm not spiritual enough Then this book is for you. Messy Spiritualtiy was written for the silent majority of us who have been convinced that we just don't do Christianity right. We spend most of our lives worried about what we don't do instead of what we have done, focused on our imperfections instead of God's fondness for the imperfect. Why? Because we've been bombarded with books, tapes, talks, seminars, and movies convincing us that real Christianity is all about perfection. Michael Yaconelli dares to suggest that imperfection, unfinishedness, and messiness are, in fact, the earmarks of true Christianity; that real Christianity is messy, erratic, lopsided . . . and gloriously liberating. What if genuine faith begins with admitting we will never have our act completely together? Maybe messy disciples are exactly the kind of imperfect people Jesus came to earth for and whose company he actually enjoyed--and still enjoys. If you want to find Jesus today, look for him in the midst of burned-out believers, moral misfits, religious incompetents . . . men and women whose lives are, well, messy. Messy Spirituality is a strong antidote for the spiritual perfectionism in us all. Here are truths that can cut you loose from the tyranny of ought-to's and open your eyes to the deep spirituality of being loved, shortcomings and all, by the God who meets you and transforms you in the midst of a messy and unpredictable life.

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About the Author:

Mike Yaconelli is the author of bestselling books Dangerous Wonder and Messy Spirituality. He was the senior editor for the Wittenburg Door (1971-1996), a satirical religious magazine noted for its irreverent humor, in-depth interviews, and commitment to reforming the evangelical church. He was the cofounder of Youth Specialties, an international organization devoted to equipping youth workers through training and resources. Mike was a prophetic voice in the church-at-large and was a devoted husband and father until his death in 2003. SPANISH BIO: Mike Yaconelli estuvo en el ministerio por mas de cuarenta anos, como pastor y tambien como ministro de estudiantes. Fue pastor laico de la Iglesia Grace Community Church y fue dueno y cofundador de Especialidades Juveniles, editor de 'The Door: y autor de 'Dangerous Wonders'. En el ultimo tiempo de su vida residio en Yreka, California.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Messy The Workshop of the Spiritual Life I stake the future on the few humble and hearty lovers who seek God passionately in the marvelous, messy world of redeemed and related realities that lie in front of our noses. WILLIAM MCNAMARA Dear God, I’m doing the best I can. Frank CHILDREN’S LETTERS TO GOD I go into churches and everyone seems to feel so good about themselves. Everyone calls themselves a Christian nowadays. How dare we call ourselves Christians? It’s only for Jesus to decide whether we are Christian or not. I don’t think He’s made a decision in my case, and I’m afraid that when He does I am going to be sent straight to hell. I don’t feel I can call myself a Christian. I can’t be satisfied with myself. We all seem to be pretty contented with ourselves in church and that makes me sick. I think all this contentment makes Jesus nervous. ROBERT COLES, WITTENBURG DOOR My life is a mess. After forty-five years of trying to follow Jesus, I keep losing him in the crowded busyness of my life. I know Jesus is there, somewhere, but it’s difficult to make him out in the haze of everyday life. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a godly person. Yet when I look at the yesterdays of my life, what I see, mostly, is a broken, irregular path littered with mistakes and failure. I have had temporary successes and isolated moments of closeness to God, but I long for the continuing presence of Jesus. Most of the moments of my life seem hopelessly tangled in a web of obligations and distractions. I want to be a good person. I don’t want to fail. I want to learn from my mistakes, rid myself of distractions, and run into the arms of Jesus. Most of the time, however, I feel like I am running away from Jesus into the arms of my own clutteredness. I want desperately to know God better. I want to be consistent. Right now the only consistency in my life is my inconsistency. Who I want to be and who I am are not very close together. I am not doing well at the living-a-consistent-life thing. I don’t want to be St. John of the Cross or Billy Graham. I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost sixty, and I fail on a regular basis. If I were to die today, I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like "He was a nice guy" or "He was occasionally decent" or "Mike wasn’t as bad as a lot of people." Unfortunately, eulogies are delivered by people who know the deceased. I know what the consensus would be. "Mike was a mess." When I was younger, I believed my inconsistency was due to my youth. I believed that age would teach me all I needed to know and that when I was older I would have learned the lessons of life and discovered the secrets of true spirituality. I am older, a lot older, and the secrets are still secret from me. I often dream that I am tagging along behind Jesus, longing for him to choose me as one of his disciples. Without warning, he turns around, looks straight into my eyes, and says, "Follow me!" My heart races, and I begin to run toward him when he interrupts with, "Oh, not you; the guy behind you. Sorry." I have been trying to follow Christ most of my life, and the best I can do is a stumbling, bumbling, clumsy kind of following. I wake up most days with the humiliating awareness that I have no clue where Jesus is. Even though I am a minister, even though I think about Jesus every day, my following is . . . uh . . . meandering. So I’ve decided to write a book about the spiritual life. I know what you’re thinking. Based on what I’ve just said about my walk with God, having me write about spirituality is like having Bozo the Clown explain the meaning of the universe, like playing Handel’s Messiah on the kazoo. How can someone whose life is obviously unspiritual presume to talk about holiness? It makes no sense. Unless. Unless! Unless spirituality, as most of us understand it, is not spirituality at all. Sadly, spiritual is most commonly used by Christians to describe people who pray all day long, read their Bibles constantly, never get angry or rattled, possess special powers, and have the inside track to God. Spirituality, for most, has an otherworldly ring to it, calling to mind eccentric "saints" who have forsaken the world, taken vows of poverty, and isolated themselves in cloisters. Nothing wrong with the spirituality of monks. Monks certainly experience a kind of spirituality, a way of seeking and knowing God, but what about the rest of us? What about those of us who live in the city, have a wife or husband, three children, two cats, and a washing machine that has stopped working? What about those of us who are single, work sixty to seventy hours a week, have parents who wonder why we’re not married, and have friends who make much more money than we do? What about those of us who are divorced, still trying to heal from the scars of rejection, trying to cope with the single-parenting of children who don’t understand why this has happened to them? Is there a spirituality for the rest of us who are not secluded in a monastery, who don’t have it all together and probably never will?

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