Get Some Fresh Air: A Book Review

Get Some Fresh Air: A Book Review

So many products advertise how fresh they are – be it an add for a so-and-so scented deodorizer or the newest trendy organic food choice. Turn on the TV and you’re bound to hear the adjective fresh applied to something within the span of 10 minutes. If you were to look up the word fresh, you would see that it can be applied as a noun, verb, adverb or adjective. This might give you an idea as to just how much the word is used. Enter Pastor Chris Hodges of Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL along with his new book, Fresh Air.

(For those of you who read the subtitles of books and keep score, it’s labeled “trading stale spiritual obligations for a life-altering, energizing, experience-it-everyday relationship with God.”  I admittedly had to grab the book and look that up, though.)

Chris is the church planter, aka founding pastor (and current senior pastor) at Church of the Highlands. I’d suggest heading over to the website to get the full scoop, but the cliff-notes version is that he is an LSU fan in Alabama Crimson Tide land. For SEC football illiterates, that’s like civil-war-starting ground. All jokes aside, Birmingham is a city that is overcoming a darker underside, due in no small part to what God is doing through Church of the Highlands down there.

I wish I could simply quote the entire book here on the blog – I honestly think it that important that you read it. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying if you read no other book outside of the Bible itself this year, Fresh Air should be that book!

There were a number of passages and quotes that stuck with me. Without giving too much away, first up is the gradual realization that all of the stuff in life cannot satisfy us. We always desire something more, something bigger, or something better. There is always version 5 or the limited edition. Instead of going the typical route of discussing materialism, Chris likens this to the doldrums. This term comes from the old maritime name for being stuck in the same spot due to a lack of wind for navigation.

This illustration highlights what I view to be one of the great strengths of the book. Chris avoids the typical grand abstract or general statements, and instead opts for practical examples and accessible stories and illustrations of key concepts. His goal is to simply show that the Holy Spirit changes things.

All of this is built around the theme of fresh air, which is taken from The Living Bible translation of Philippians 2:15. The term plays on the idea of the Holy Spirit as both the breath of God as well as wind. In one passage, Chris laments:

“This isn’t just a twenty-first century American phenomenon. In every nation of the world and in every period of time you’ll find people practicing liturgies, reciting prayers, and obeying traditions while their hearts are far from God. They desperately try to know God by doing the right things externally. Perhaps the problem is more prevalent in our world today, though. In our technologically advanced age, where every problem has a solution, every bad habit can be changed, and every flaw can be corrected, we still cannot reduce our relationship with God to a formula.”

That passage struck me, because I Google everything to find a solution. I like to be in the know. I’m 100% guilty of falling into the trap of trying to reduce Bible study or Christian apologetics to some sort of one-size formula. It leads to the same unfulfilled doldrums that Chris began the book with – yet we can be this way as a Christian.

Chris takes this theme to the practical level by introducing us to the Holy Spirit in a doctrinally-sound sort of way. Now I’m not a Pentecostal or anything, but I do want people to understand that the Holy Spirit is not crazy uncle Eddie who we never talk about. Chris illustrates this so well in the book, as he explains the role of the Spirit in our daily lives. The Spirit injects this energy into our lives.

Another favorite passage of mine is where Chris breaks down the seven original words that were all translated into the English word praise. These words journey all the way from quiet and simple praise up to loud shouting with extended arms. Coming to the table with a Baptist and Methodst background, I’ve always felt like I was breaking a rule by raising a hand. This book dispels that notion.

This book is easily approachable for Christians and nonChristians alike. I came into this book with high expectations, as I listen to Church of the Highlands podcasts. I did this because my local pastor recommended Church of the Highlands to me, and he was able to attend their GROW conference. I was inspired by the inspiration he brought back from that event. In addition to this, I must legally state that I am a member of the Tyndale Blog Network, and Tyndale provided me with a complimentary copy of Fresh Air to review.

At the end of the day,  Fresh Air is simply one of those books that you just need to read. You will grow in your walk.

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