About 10 years ago, my family was visiting my grandmother in south Florida. At one point, I was standing next to her when she suddenly patted my stomach and said, "You're getting thick."
Now, when you sweet grandmother calls you thick, you know it's time to take action. So, when we got back home I joined a gym, and started working out a couple of days per week. I mostly lifted weights, and did some biking and elliptical training. But no jogging. I hate running.
A few years later, I started getting some physical therapy, for some neck-shoulder issues. My PT, who is a long-time friend of mine, pointed out that most of my chronic problems were due to stress, and part of the solution was to start jogging, since it would help keep my joints loose.
I dreaded hearing those words, "You need to start jogging," but more than that, I hated how my joints felt. So I started jogging once or twice each week, and even ran in a team relay. But I still hated it. And I soon found myself jogging only once or twice per month, at best.
Last summer, we were at the beach with family. One afternoon my Dad looked at me and said, "Hey, you're finally got enough size to play free safety and to bring some force with you when you hit someone." (I played defensive back in college. And besides being small, weak, and slow, I was a great football player.)
I got your message, Dad. Loud-and-clear. So I started jogging more, including a "marathon" one month. And I still run 2-3 days per week. And I still hate it.
I am not training to run a race. I just want to be healthy. I need to exercise for my own sake, and so I can be the healthy husband, father, and minister that God wants me to be. My grandmother, my friend (and physical therapist), and my Dad just helped provided my "wake-up" calls.
These were my AHA (Awakening - Honesty - Action) moments. I saw the truth in what they said, and I took action.
Spiritual AHAIf we need these wake-up calls for physical things, don't we also need them for our spiritual life?
That's the premise of Kyle Idleman's book AHA. We go through lives with glimpses of new revelation and enlightening reminders. But we have to do more than just be aware. We have to see our true need for a Savior, and then we have to take action.
Idleman uses the story of the Prodigal Son (in Luke 15) to remind us that life-change happens through God's grace and our AHA process.
"When difficult circumstances come your way, when there is a famine in the land, how will you respond? If you let Him, God will use those circumstances to wake you up and ultimately draw you closer to Him?"
Who Is This Book For?Warning: This book is very practical. With a wide variety of applications, it will prick your conscience. I don't know how anyone can read it and not think of an area that God is calling them to AHA.
But written with a light tone, and lots of humorous stories, Idleman's book is accessible even to non-theology guys like me.
With most of the focus on the Prodigal Son, the book seems especially applicable to newer Christians, especially those who have come through a season of rebellion against God. Likewise, this could be a great book for those who are exploring Christianity.
And I also appreciate how the author focuses on the older son as well, in Chapter 13. It's not that I haven't been a rebellious sinner (and I still battle, and fail, in temptations every day). But now that I have been a Christian for almost 20 years, I tend to see myself as "righteous" in my own deeds. Idleman reminds me that I am in need of God's grace, and I need spiritual AHA moments just as much as anyone, or more!
"We avoid honest moments because sometimes the truth hurts. Here's the rub: AHA won't happen until we come to a place where we stop defending ourselves."
The beauty of this book is that it mixes practicality with a focus on the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace in the Gospel, both of which are needed by everyone -- non-Christians, young Christians, and mature Christians. We are to obey and trust God even when we don't feel like it, much like I need to go jogging even when I don't feel like it. Our actions prove our convictions, and God empowers us to live them out for His glory.
Though focusing more on our response (as opposed to the work of Jesus) early in the book, Idleman continues to build gospel truths, and clearly communicates our need for a Savior. He is not proposing mere behavior modification and sin management, but a heart-level change that can only be wrought by God:
"We've lived in offense to a holy, righteous God, who reigns in justice. We deserve death for what we've done. . . .
Despite all of this, God offers us a brand-new inheritance -- one that has been reclaimed and redeemed by His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth and died for our sins. . . . In the fullness of our sin, God responded with the fullness of His grace through Jesus Christ."
Recurring AHA MomentsI need regular wake-up calls. I'm good for taking action, but then I slack off. My grandmother was the first push, but I needed my friend and my Dad to get me back on track to healthier living. Our loving Father is gracious enough to keep sending AHA moments to intersect with our lives.
Likewise, this book was a reminder of the spiritual truths that I know, but I let slip. I must remember that when my life gets messed up (through my own sins, or through others' sins), I need to focus on God's loving grace. I need AHA. I need to Wake Up, Be Honest, and Take Action.
"Ultimately, the story in Luke 15 isn't about two sons who disobey. It is about a Father who loves His children unconditionally."
GiveawayPublisher David C Cook is giving away a copy of this book to one of my readers. All you have to do is leave a comment below or email me (or contact me some other way).
And if you don't win, or don't want to wait, you can buy your own copy of AHA.
The last day to enter to win is Monday April 7.