Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eyes Wide Open . . .

I was recently given the opportunity to receive a free book—this offer combined two key words that quickly caught my attention: “free” and “book.” How could I go wrong? The only catch, I had to do and post a review of it today (April 14). And that really wasn’t a bad thing as it fits my purposes for this realm of my life. So here goes . . .

Eyes Wide Open is an encouraging read about a challenging truth.

The full title of the book is, “Eyes Wide Open: See and Live the Real You,” and it is by
Pastor Jud Wilhite (Central Christian Church – Las Vegas, NV). Wilhite is also a co-founder of DEADLY VIPER website and the book the Deadly Viper ministry is based upon. If you have not been to their site, stop what you’re reading right now and go there!

As I read Eyes Wide Open, I was struck by two clear strengths of the book: First, Wilhite’s “Pastor/shepherd’s” heart seems to open up—and sometimes bleed—on almost every page of the book. As you read you can hear the tender and gracious words of a pastor who loves and cares for people. And this hints at the second strength of the book; which are the powerful stories Wilhite uses to illustrate the spiritual truths he is communicating. He uses both personal lessons (some very painful) as well as illustrations of great joy and pain from people he has ministered to, and they all drive home his points.

For me, a highlight of the text was Chapter 3, “Uncensored Grace.” In it, Wilhite does a fantastic job of explaining the essential nature of and need for God’s “uncensored grace.” His point is that this grace must be effectual in our lives. In the chapter he writes:

Uncensored grace is not simply grace for when we first come to faith; it is grace for each day after, as we fail and struggle. It is one thing to come to God for salvation, but it is something else to experience His work of transformation over an extended period of time. One should lead to the other, and daily uncensored grace is what we all need desperately from our loving Father (p. 21, emphasis added).

And indeed, that is pretty much what the rest of the book is about; how we can live in that reality of the need for daily uncensored grace.

In Part One—Wide Open to God, Wilhite sets the theological foundation for all he is going to say. In these chapters (1-6) he lays out the biblical teaching of one’s need for salvation, and the position and privileges that salvation gives the follower of God. One theme that is weaved throughout this section is that even though we may know these truths, we so often don’t live in them. This, of course, sets the stage for the rest of his presentation where he seeks to lay out for the reader just how one can more successfully embrace and live by the truth that they are loved and equipped by God for an “abundant life.”

In Part Two—Wide Open to Identity (Chapters 7-11), Wilhite more carefully explains to the reader what it means to be “in Christ.” He challenges us to see ourselves as God sees us with a new identity which is inseparably tied to who we are in Christ. Moreover, he explains how this new identity carries the biblical imagery of being: saints, priests, slaves, and servants.

In Part Three—Wide Open to Change (Chapters 12-17), Wilhite begins to challenge the reader to embrace this new identity by seeking real and meaningful life change. In these chapters he deals with the difficult, but necessary, realities that we need to learn how to be honest about whom we are before God, ourselves, and others. And if we sincerely confront these issues in our lives, then we are in a serious place and position where genuine change can happen.

One further note about this section of the book: Chapter 17, “You Don’t Stand Alone,” is an excellent reminder for both new and longtime Christ-followers about the God-given, and absolutely necessary, place of a local church family for real and lasting change to take place. Don’t skim this chapter, read it carefully; for in it, Wilhite rightly highlights and elevates the place of community in our spiritual nurture and growth.

The book concludes with an appropriate reminder of the need to use this relationship, identity and change God has given to us for His work here on earth. In Part Four—Wide Open to Influence (Chapters 18-21), Wilhite challenges the reader to move out of their comfort zone and to use their life for God’s purposes. I’ll close with this quote from him that I think sums it up his message quite well: “As you move into the world using your influence for God, you’ll feel more alive. You’ll sense that you are coming into your own, into the person God created to use for His glory (p. 155).”

His point is clear: We are saved and graced not for self indulgence, but to be used by God for Him and His work in this world. Amen!

Eyes Wide Open is a good read. In it, Pastor Wilhite reminds us of who we are in Christ, of all the blessing we have because of that, and of how to live because of that reality. It is a book that can be read for personal growth and would also be a good study for a small group to pursue. I am sure it would lend itself to a host of provocative and interested study questions.

I have only one minor criticism of the book. I found myself wishing there were follow-up study and application questions to each chapter, or maybe at the end of the four major sections. I think this would greatly enhance its usefulness for those wanting to seriously appropriate its content. Nonetheless, a good small group leader could easily overcome this, but I think study questions would have been a good feature for the inexperienced reader or leader to have.

3 John 8
Bill H.

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