Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Astonished" by Mike Erre

In Astonished, Pastor Mike Erre calls Christians away from simplistic formulas to honest and rugged faith in the mysterious and unpredictable God. God is more about deepening the mystery of faith, not removing it. Jesus should get bigger the longer we walk with him. Life and faith should grow to be more profound and wondrous, not less. In Astonished, you will see how we are far more comfortable with tips, steps and techniques for living, than we are with ruthlessly trusting the mysterious God of the Bible. God asks us to follow him into tension, frustration, and difficulty because he wants our trust, not just our intellectual agreement. He calls us to seek Him even as we live in awe of all that is yet to be known about Him. Astonished is an invitation to question in a culture that wants answers, to wonder in a world with little mystery left, and to believe in what is unseen and find it beautiful.

This book prompts us to look at the deep and honest questions we have about God, particularly those frustrating ones we tend to poke into the background, because there seems no point in wondering. Why are desert times said to be 'necessary' in our relationship with God, when we don't have them with significant fellow humans? Why does He keep Himself hidden like a kid playing hide and seek? And one I've often grappled with at different times, why should we even want to be friends with Him, if He behaves so coy and perverse? After all, human parents don't hang back, and stay silent and aloof when their children ask them questions.

It was refreshing to come across a book which is so direct in asking such things. Mike Erre understands why it may be easy to wonder if there is, in fact, something wrong with us, and our receivers. His observations about our end of the communication were interesting, indicating that some of our problems may be to do with assumptions we've made, which originated with vocal Christians and not with God.

He examines how we often choose to come to God out of self-interested motives, rather than simply wanting to know Him for His own sake. He points out possible flaws in our methods of sharing Him with others. Jesus Himself never felt the need to dazzle people into His kingdom, as modern Christians often seemed compelled to do, making them come across the same way as those annoying steak-knife salesmen. He was content with obscurity, and felt no pressure to polish up His message to make it more palatable for the crowds. If people wanted to pursue other options, He simply let them. And if we want to present Him as something He never presented Himself, that's our problem.

Are all of the questions answered completely? No, but if there was any way they could be, the title of this book couldn't be called "Astonished". God's mysterious and surprising ways of working are part of His character. This book's intent seemed to be to help us find out more about God, and as a bonus, it helps us find out more surprising things about ourselves, including dodgy motives and counterproductive ways to trying to probe the mystery. I enjoyed it.

I received a copy from Net Galley and David C Cook in return for an honest review.

4 stars

 Astonished: Recapturing the Wonder, Awe, and Mystery of Life with God available from Amazon

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