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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'm a Big Flippin' Mess!

By Jimmy Braddock
It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything and that’s because I really haven’t felt like anything I had to share was good enough, important enough, eloquent enough, profound enough or anything enough to warrant our precious collective time and attention. I get that way a lot and, I guess, that’s the way I feel about my life in general. Stay with me! This isn’t about my lack of self esteem or inferiority complex-Those things have been addressed…Okay, still being addressed! This is about travelling through life, with all it’s peaks and valleys, and being comfortable with my screwed-uppedness (yep, my word.)

I had been dealing with several situations that were just difficult and messy. I was struggling with my ability to be an effective leader, if I was qualified to give advice, and if I was capable of dealing with anything much more complicated than a spirited game of Go-Fish. Enter the Creator of the Universe who decided to take a little time out of His somewhat busy schedule to send me, one of His problem children, a little nudge. A friend shared a Facebook status about a page called Messy Spirituality ( and it said the 100th “Like” would receive a free book and a $5 Panera card. I had to…I Love Panera. I liked the page, thought I was the 100th, and then forgot about it. I scanned the page briefly but honestly dismissed it with a thought to return later. A few days later, a small package arrived and I hadn’t thought anymore about the giveaway. It was my Panera card and a copy of Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli. By now, we had started a diet and there was no way Julie was gonna let me have chocolate croissants from Panera. So, Keli got the gift card and I started reading the book. After I read the back cover, I realized this was all just a little plot by my crafty Father to get this book in my hands. I haven’t finished the book yet and this is not a review. I will, however, recommend it to anyone who has ever thought to themselves (or screamed at the top of their lungs) “I’m a big flippin’ mess”!
I have known since I was a little kid that Jesus loved me! How did I know? For the bible told me so and that’s the way the song went. I went through a long period thinking God didn’t want anything to do with me. Then, that Jesus may love me, but He probably didn’t like me much. I’m finally starting to accept that Jesus loves me and there ain’t nothing I can do about it. He loves me in spite of, and including, my screwed-uppedness. Actually, I think it endears me to Him.
I want so desperately to be the perfect picture of faith, spirituality and obedience! But, I fall short of my expectations-not His. I get mad at myself when I question God, when I complain, when I’m short with my wife or kids, and the list goes on. Basically, I’m upset when I screw up because I know that God deserves so much better from me. He knows how messed up I am and he expects that I’m going to screw up-frequently. I feel like I am in this perpetual cycle of brokenness and regeneration while He continues to draw me ever closer to Himself. Jesus has absolutely wrecked my life and completely shattered any ideas of who I think I am or I’m supposed to be. I am grateful beyond words for that beautiful collision of my mess and His Grace. As long as I’m confined to this body on this earth, I will never come anywhere close to that perfect picture. Guess what? I hear that still, small voice telling me that as long as I keep moving closer to Him, That’s okay! If He’s okay with my mess, I’ve got to be okay with it. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay that I don’t meet my expectations (or anyone elses) as long as I meet His. It’s okay to be a mess!!!

I have said all of this to tell you that my God is right on time. He knows what I need and when I need it. No matter how big a screw up I am, He loves me! No matter how inadequate I feel, He says I’m capable! No matter how inferior I think I am, He says I am good enough, I am adored, and I am a kid of the King!  I may be a screw-up, but I know that I am His screw-up.

I’m a big flippin’ mess, but it’s a glorious mess and it’s okay!

Jimmy Braddock is husband to Julie and dad to Keli and Karis.  Jimmy is the Director of Operations for Providence Home in Columbia, SC and gets to do for a living what he loves -  hanging out with amazing people everyday sharing the love of Jesus while striving to be a follower of Christ and not just a fan!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why We Don't Disciple Like Jesus Did

Why We Don’t Disciple Like Jesus Did
by Mike Breen

If we want to know how Jesus discipled people and how the early church (including Paul) certainly seemed to disciple people, this is what we need to know: Discipleship requires imitation. This is the nitty gritty of what it means to be a learner.

Jesus asked his disciples to imitate His life. That was His process. It was how He passed on the DNA.

Our lives don’t have to be perfect, or close to perfect, for us to begin multiplying the life we have in Jesus into others. But people desperately need a flesh-and-blood example to look at, watch, ask questions, receive teaching and apprentice themselves to. If they are struggling to read Scripture, it’s not enough to toss someone a book on reading the Bible or point them to a podcast.

We don’t simply tell people to pray; we teach them to pray as we pray. We don’t just instruct people to forgive; we show them what it looks like to forgive when we’ve been stabbed in the back. In the end, we need to be at a place of enough stability and maturity in our own spiritual lives that we are confident it would be a good thing if people did imitate us. This is the way of discipleship.

So what stands in our way of following Jesus’ example?

If you’re anything like me, you probably have two, slightly negative knee-jerk reactions to the idea of imitation. And they probably have to do with confidence and power.
With confidence, it comes down to you and me. It comes down to the fact that we may know we’re created to disciple people and that it isn’t just about me “being fed.” We know if we are invested in, eventually we need to invest our lives into others. Scripture doesn’t give much leeway on that one. And if we are going to offer our lives to a small group of people to imitate, we actually have to believe that our life is worth imitating.

Now we’re going to take a sudden turn here because seriously discussing discipleship and imitation requires us to look into the future and ask what Jesus is asking of us. If we are His disciples, it means we will eventually be discipling people. That idea raises up some things in us.

At gut-level honesty, most of us don’t have the confidence to offer our lives as something to imitate, do we? Why?

Because we don’t think it would be a good thing. Our lives are often chaotic, hard, challenging and slightly depressing enough. Why in the world would we want to pass that on?

Maybe our marriages aren’t in the best place.

Maybe we’re single and haven’t exactly lived the “purest” of lives.

Maybe we’re not particularly good parents, and that’s not a relationship we want anyone to see.

Perhaps our work life/home life balance is really out of whack.

We might be loaded with debt.

Perhaps we feel isolated, alone or have very little sense of peace.

We wonder—though we have a hard time admitting it—if God is actually moving in our lives and communities. We read the book of Acts and think it must be for other people or other times.

This could very possibly be your reality. Herein lies one of our biggest problems: We can’t possibly conceive of discipling people because we don’t have lives we’d want others to have.

We are so consumed with being successful (the drug of choice for Americans) or simply surviving the chaos, or having more stuff, or being popular, that we aren’t much different from people who don’t know Jesus.

Even pastors.

The fact is that for most of us, imitating our lives might not be a good thing. The reality is that we don’t even know how to live ourselves, much less feel comfortable with someone imitating us.


Because most of us have never truly been discipled. Maybe you’ve grown up in church. Maybe you’ve even gone to seminary. Maybe you lead a church, small group or Bible study. Maybe you’ve read every Christian book there is to read from the last 50 years. Great! You may have an outstanding informational foundation.

But you still might need to be discipled in the way the Bible understands discipleship.
I have met more leaders than I can count who, combined, lead hundreds of thousands of people—and have never been discipled.

What if it didn’t have to be that way?

I wonder if there are people in your life whom God has been preparing in advance, who are open to you, who would want to invest all that God has given them, into your life?
I guarantee there is a person you know who, when you look at them, consider them and pray about them, you think, You know what? If in 20 years my life looked like theirs, that would be a really good thing.

If we exist in a relational system where the principle “every disciple disciples” is lived out, then we are all being held accountable by someone.

This article is excerpted and adapted from the free eBook The Great Disappearance by 3DM leader Mike Breen. In the eBook, Breen explores why the word “disciple” disappears from Scripture after Acts 21—and why the answer to that question is vital to how we make disciples today. To download the full eBook, click here.