Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome Mike Erre, pastor of EVFree Fullerton and author of Astonished, to Dreams Coming True! Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win a copy of Astonished (David C. Cook)! Winner will be announced next Thursday.
Tell us a little about yourself, Mike:
I am the senior pastor of a church in California called EvFree Fullerton. I am joyfully married to Justina and have three children, Nathan (10), Hannah (9) and Seth (5). Seth has Down syndrome and our journey with him was the impetus for this book.
When did this creative dream begin?
We found out 3 months before Seth was born in 2009 that he had DS. We had no idea about what that meant for our family. We were told that 92% of the people who receive the same diagnosis choose to abort the baby. That wasn’t an option for us and life with him has caused us to learn many things about life in God’s kingdom. That is what Astonished is all about.
How did this project/idea get started?
My wife and I realized that much of modern Christianity (at least the forms we have been exposed to) turns out to be a form of risk management, designed to actually keep us from having to truly risk and walk by faith. Astonished is about how Jesus resists such attempts and presses us into places where we don’t know the answers and can’t see our way so that we’ll actually have to trust him. So much of the boredom we have in life with God stems from our insistence to stay in control and keep God predictable. Only when we truly live by faith will we be astonished by God again.
What makes your project stand out from the crowd?
I think that Jesus introduces difficulties we use Christianity to try to erase. So the book is a different take on the life of faith and all the ways Jesus gets us in over our heads so that he can surprise us.
Have there been any unexpected surprises?
There is a cliché’ I’ve heard in Christian circles that needs to be done away with. “God will never give you more than you can handle,” is a phrase most of us say to each other when confronted with painful trials or suffering. I know what we mean when we say it; Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
While this is most certainly true, it is not quite the same thing as saying that God will never give us more than we can handle. In fact, I think scripture demonstrates just the opposite—God is all about giving us more than we can handle—so that we’ll actually have to trust him. God is actively, passionately and relentlessly about the business of giving us more than we can handle—so that our power, wisdom, and strength will be brought to its end. Think of Gideon, or Paul, or Moses.
This is why Paul’s teaching on weakness in 2 Corinthians 12 is so profound for the journey of faith. We think faith is supposed to protect us from being brought to a place of such desperation, but Paul suggests that faith is that point of desperation—that is the place where faith and trust in God actually begin.
But so much of American life and Christianity is designed precisely so that I never reach this point. I don’t want to be weak—I want to be heroic, powerful and important. I am conditioned (even in church!) to overcome obstacles, not embrace my limitations.
We’ll never see his power if we refuse to have ours limited. God’s way is not to take us out of trials, but to comfort us with his presence in the midst of them and to exchange our “strength” for his in the face of them. This is how God works out his purposes for the world – he puts treasure “in jars of clay to show that this all- surpassing power is from God and not from us.” By our union with Christ in and through our weakness, we display God’s glory.
It is to his greatness that he uses people like us; it is a testimony to his glory that he can take anything or anyone to be used for his purpose in the world. He shows his wisdom by using foolishness; he shows his strength by using weakness. God shows his true greatness by using the lowly and despised things of the world to bring out his purposes in human history. In his hands, our brokenness can be made beautiful.
He does this so that none of us live under the illusion that we ourselves are up for the task and boast before him. He designs circumstances so that we are in over our heads and chooses unlikely people so that he gets the credit and glory. He brings us to the end of our sufficiency so that we’ll rest in his.
How can we find your creative dream come true?
My website is subversivekingdom.com.