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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

AHA (Kyle Idleman)

TITLE: AHA: The God Moment That Changes Everything
AUTHOR: Kyle Idleman
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2014, (208 pages).

Have you ever wondered why the self-help industry is now estimated to become a more than $11 billion industry? Why is self-help so popular? How are Christians to live in a self-help crazed world? Enters this book that attempts to be the "anti-thesis" of the self-help phenomenon. The first thing that readers of this book will be challenged is this: Reject your self's offer to help. As we reject our natural tendencies to control life, we accept help from the supernatural. What is an AHA moment? For Idleman, teaching pastor as well as author, it is that "sudden recognition that leads to an honest moment that brings lasting change." In short, it is "Awakening Honest Action." Such moments cannot be easily explained, but they can be surely be experienced. AHA for Idleman comprises three ingredients.
  1. A Sudden Awakening
  2. A Brutal Honesty
  3. Immediate Action.
Based on the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, Idleman focuses on some of the reasons why the younger son ran away from home, giving a parallel story of Ryan who thinks about his father as someone in a distant country, uncaring, unpleasable, and unmerciful. All it takes is an AHA moment in order to turn the person around.

The first phase of AHA begins when a person comes to his senses. It can be a gambling addiction. It can be a flirtation with a long time sweetheart. When things like these happen, we need an alarm to wake us up from the slumber of sin. With the rude awakening comes the desperation, mixed with feelings of fear and dependence. This leads to the second phase where brutal honesty is required to realize one must change. This may need self honesty. This also means learning to talk to oneself openly and honesty even if it hurts. Those who are honest with self will be better equipped to be honest with others. Sometimes, it may mean seeking help from someone more mature to listen to our confessions. Otherwise, one can continue to ignore it or deny it, which will put the spanner in the works for any AHA recovery. The three strategies of self-denial are disagreement with the facts, defensiveness of the self, and the distractions we willingly submit ourselves to. This leads to projecting the problem to external sources or reasons. Eventually, when one minimizes the brutal truth, the AHA moment dies. That will not happen if the third phase is quickly adopted. This third phase is most important for it means putting resolutions to action. It must be immediate. The time to repent and recover is always now. It cannot be delayed otherwise passivity will creep in and render any recovery null and void. It tempts one to procrastinate which quickly unravels the good work done. It culminates in a state of defeatism where one surrenders to the point of saying: "It's too late now."

So What?

This book reads like a three point sermon about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Well explained and expounded, Idleman puts himself in the shoes of the younger son of the parable and draws many modern day illustrations to show readers how powerfully relevant this parable still speaks today. What the late Henri Nouwen has done for spirituality in the exposition of the Parable, Idleman has done for Christian Living using the same parable. While Nouwen has brought deeper insights of God's love as the major focus of the Parable, Idleman has enabled readers to respond as children to the love of God. Nouwen focuses on the homecoming joy, the affirmation given by God, and the God's restoration of the sonship. In contrast, Idleman focuses on the three movements of Awakening, Honest, and Action. While Nouwen is heavy on the spiritual transformation of the hearts of people, Idleman is eloquent in terms of a "moment" that results in practical actions. Here lies the biggest different between Nouwen's book and Idleman's. Nouwen's three part focus on the Younger Son, the Elder Son, and God the Father; contrasts with Idleman's three part focus on Awakening, Honest, and Action. The former marks out the book in terms of people while the latter divides the book according to actions.

Idleman's book will be easily received and appreciated. Although I personally prefer Nouwen's exposition of the Parable, this book fares quite well as far as Christian living is concerned. I warmly commend this book as another very effective way to deliver the classic parable.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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