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Eyes Wide Open: See and Live the Real You Paperback – April 14, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jud Wilhite serves as senior pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. Thousands of people attend campuses each weekend, along with a global community who attend online. Jud is a frequent conference speaker, author of Uncensored Grace, and the coauthor of Deadly Viper Character Assassins with Mike Foster. He and his wife, Lori, have two children and a slobbery bulldog.

Bill Taaffe is a writer and editor whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Sports Illustrated, where he was a columnist and senior editor for nearly ten years. He and his wife, Donna, live in the Las Vegas area with their son.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I once lost my glasses while running late for an appointment. I’m nearsighted, so I can see okay up close with or without my glasses. But if I get twenty or thirty feet away, forget it.

So here I was, looking all over the house, trying to find my glasses. I looked in the bedroom. I looked downstairs in the kitchen. I looked in my study. I was getting frustrated and angry, and then I went around the corner and saw my wife, Lori.

“You have to help me,” I told her. “I’m running late and I can’t find my glasses.”

She looked at me with a puzzled stare and said, “Jud, they’re on your face. You are wearing your glasses.”

All I could say was “Uh…I am?” (I also had a fleeting thought that I’ll be headed to a rubber room one day soon!)

How foolish is that? I searched desperately for something right under, or rather on, my nose. But I’m not alone in this oddity. We often look for what is right in front of us. We search for something to declare that our life has value. We look for someone to love us no matter how many indiscretions we’ve committed or what a mess we’ve made of our lives. We seek respect, validation, and significance. We run on a speeding approval treadmill, but it’s never enough. And the amazing thing is that we are looking for what we already have, if only we had eyes to see it.

For years after I came to faith in Jesus Christ, I struggled to believe that God cared about me. I felt as if I had done so many bad things in my life that God could never fully accept me. No matter what I did, a small, quiet voice would come back and say, Oh, you are just a mess, Jud. You’re never going to amount to anything.

I jumped through all the right religious hoops and went above and beyond to prove things to myself and others. Yet I’d still hear these thoughts: Who are you kidding? Get real, man. You have too much stuff in your past.

I was very aware of my abysmal failure to live up to God’s standards on my own. I was worn out from trying to be good enough. I had buried the person God made me to be in order to fit the mold of what I perceived a Christian was.

All of it was part of my search for acceptance. But it wasn’t working. I loved God, but it felt as if I was always performing for Him. I felt like a fake and sensed that God was as weary of the performance
as I was.

I became so frustrated that I finally sat down and prayed, God, I quit. If we’re going to have any kind of relationship, it is up to You. I can’t do this anymore. And I was serious.

Maybe you can relate. Many people walk around feeling like spiritual failures. Like the guy who said he loved Jesus but couldn’t be a Christian.

What is that about? After all, one would presume that the definition of a Christian is somebody who loves Jesus. So this guy was asked, “How would you define a Christian?”

He said, “A Christian is someone who has his stuff together.”


You know what I feel like sometimes? Like those fifteen-year-old pickup trucks you sometimes see rolling down the highway, loaded to the max with paint buckets and ladders and rakes and toolboxes
and junk and a roll of unsecured carpet about to fall off and hit some innocent car right in the grille.

Christians have their stuff together—r-i-i-i-g-h-t.

I don’t even try to pretend I have my stuff together anymore.

But back when I was still thinking that I had to make myself worthy of God’s love, my frustration continued to grow. Then one day I heard a talk from the Bible, where it says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”1

After the talk, I hurried out the door and went to a quiet place. The impact of this Bible passage floored me. For the first time, God’s love began to sink in with all its implications. Somehow, in that act of giving up my personal quest for God’s approval, I finally saw what had been there all along. And what I saw flipped my faith experience right-side up. It impacted every aspect of my relationships with others and
changed my future. I saw the key to living with my eyes wide open. I surrendered my view of myself and embraced God’s view of me.

I’d had it all backward. I was putting so much pressure on myself to earn God’s love, but it was already there. While I had known this in my head, I had not accepted it in my heart.

The main thing is not my love for God but His love for me. And from that love I respond to God as one deeply flawed yet loved. I’m not looking to prove my worth. I’m not searching for acceptance. I’m responding from the worth God has already declared I have. And it isn’t based on how I feel; it is based on His own promise and revelation in the Bible.

I don’t have to act like someone else. Now I am free to become fully myself, the unique person God created me to be. My eyes opened wide.

How about you? Are you trying to perform so that God will love you? Are you working hard to keep all the plates spinning? Can you admit that it isn’t working? Are you worn out and ready to quit?

I mean, do you believe deep down inside that God already loves you? Not your friend or your neighbor or the world in general, but you? Not your potential or your performance, not your achievements or your awards, not your title or your position, but you, right now, in the mess and mire of your life? Not in some trite sense, but in a deeply personal, real way?

Do you believe that God loves you when your prayers are weak? When your faith falters? When you lust after the guy or girl walking down the street? When you aren’t sure of anything?

Do you believe that He loves you when you blatantly disregard His principles to serve a selfish desire?
Do you believe, deep inside, that there is nothing you could do to cause Him to love you less?

I’m not surprised at people’s reactions when I ask these questions. Most often people look down, avoid eye contact, and voice either an unconvinced yes or a blatant no. Many fall back on the right churchy answer about God’s love—in theory at least. But when it comes to internalizing it, most seem to feel anything but loved.

Living with eyes wide open means you don’t have to be better looking, lose weight, wear different clothes, or achieve one more thing in your career. You don’t have to climb the ladder one more notch or accomplish another goal. You matter just as you are. You are an incredible spiritual being because that's how God created you.

Can you see it?

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601420722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601420725
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,490,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jud Wilhite serves as senior pastor of Central Christian Church. Thousands attend Central's campuses along with a global community who attend online (www.centralchristian.com). Jud is the author of several books including Eyes Wide Open: See and Live the Real You, Uncensored Grace and his newest release, Uncensored Truth: A No-Spin Guide to the Christian Faith. He and his wife, Lori, reside in the Las Vegas area with their two children and a slobbery Bulldog named Roxy.

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Aaronde Creighton on April 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
I must say, I was not familiar with Jud outside of Deadly Viper. He is pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The first thing I noticed in reading the book is how open and free Jud is sharing who he is, not just the good stuff, but the challenges. I can appreciate that.

The book is divided into four parts. Wide Open to God sets the tone for understanding that we need to change how we see the Father and what He has put in place for us. The focus of Part I is to help us begin to see how the Father created us. "The real you emerges as you see yourself in light of who God says you are in His written Word". A powerful statement that captures the essence of Part I.

Part II is Wide Open to Identity. Once we understand who God created us to be, we must get rid of the wrong ways we have view ourselves in the past. Jud does a great job of driving home the point that it is not our works or actions that create our new identity, but rather God Himself and Him alone.

While I enjoyed the first two parts of Eyes Wide Open, Part III- Wide Open to Change is where is starting really picking up for me. This is where Jud was phenomenal at breaking a part a myth we have all lived with. To sum this myth in my own words, it's the thought that when we decide to follow Christ, we become boring, plain people. It is quite the opposite, as Jud states, "As I embrace God's view of me, I become more fully my own self." How truly freeing! Everything that is already in me, that I already enjoy doing, comes more to life with my acceptance of God's view of me.

Last, Wide Open to Influence. For those who are missional focused and committed to creating communities of change, this will be the best part of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MasterAP on June 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Pastor of a large church in Sin City, Jud Wilhite tells stories of God's amazing grace in his second book, Eyes Wide Open.

If you enjoy hearing real-life stories followed by biblical teachings, this book is for you. It felt like I was reading a mix between Jim Cymbala and Max Lucado. Wilhite has the ability to pull you into the personal stories and then hit you with the foundational biblical truth we all need, no matter what stage of life, to understand the grace of God.

You'll find stories about Johnny Cash, Evil Knievel, bounty hunters, strippers and many more.

Someone saw what I was reading and asked, "I wonder what is must be like being a pastor in Las Vegas." You can find out the true stories by picking up Jud Wilhite's book Eyes Wide Open.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Eyes Wide Open: See and Live the Real You
If you like Max Lucado books, then you will probably like Jud Wilhite as well. I am not sure why I did not initially warm to this book right off. Perhaps it was just not the right time or perhaps it was that Wilhite lives in Las Vega (can any good thing come out of Las Vega? John 1:46) but, after a couple of weeks delay, I again picked it up and read it straight through. And I am glad I did!
Though he never uses the word, this book is really about sanctification, or how we Christians are to be changed into His image (to borrow the title of another book). This little book provides a good mini course on how to grow into the person God wants you to be. The chapters are short, pithy and contain good scriptural support along with human interest stories to move the point along. The reader will find helpful information in almost every chapter like this one in chapter 14: "Scripture says to confess our sins, not broadcast them." (p. 123). Even seasoned teachers of the Word will find little surprises along the way as I did on page 154 where he points out that Luke concludes the book of Acts by telling us that Paul continued for two years teaching and preaching, then finishes the book off with the last Greek word meaning "unhindered." Think of it--in prison, bound by a chain but unhindered from doing the work God called him to do!
From the negative side only two issues caught my eye. First, I really wish he had expanded chapters 9 and 11 more--they left me feeling like he could or should have said more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Bogart on December 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
I hadn't heard of Jud Wilhite before reading Eyes Wide Open, but that didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of this short, encouraging reading. Written accessibly, Eyes Wide Open isn't the deepest theological treatise you'll ever read, but it is easy to dig into, filled with illustrations from the lives of real believers, and explores the believer's identity in Christ.

The short chapters and fresh writing make me recommend this title to anyone looking for a sound, realistic, and transparent look at the Christian life. A life filled with grace, forgiveness, and love but not devoid of challenges, pain, and shortcomings (this is a fallen world after all). After exploring our standing in God's eyes as His redeemed children, Wilhite then goes on to touch upon the impact that believers can have on the individuals (and culture) around them as they reach out and touch others with the love of Christ.

I enjoyed this book so much! It was inspiring, on-target, and to the point. This is a great place to start for believers who are struggling with condemnation, false-guilt, or feeling like they must earn God's love through performance. I highly recommend it!
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