Full disclosure: Mike Erre, the author of Astonished: Recapturing the Wonder, Awe, and Mystery of Life with God, is a friend of mine. I knew and loved him before he was a big shot, big church, pastor-type guy. And I'm kinda miffed that he writes such good books now--five of them, in fact. That used to be my thing.

But Mike's Astonished is his best yet. In it, he says that "Christianity has become a substitute for real, vital, biblical faith." He says, "The American church has bought wholesale into the cultural assumptions of glory, power, and strength. One of the reasons our churches and ministries are so ineffective is because we don't make room for God's power, since we are so enamored with our own."

In three sections, entitled "The Nature of God," "The Nature of Faith," and "The Faith-filled Life," Erre eschews platitudes and formulas in favor of mystery, desperation, surrender, and surprise. He says, "We must be prepared to be surprised....In the Gospels, Jesus was often found where you'd least expect the Messiah to be. The same thing is true today." He intentionally avoids offering how-tos, but focuses instead on correcting and adjusting readers' vision and expectations, calling us to an honest and rugged faith in a mysterious and unpredictable God.

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