Just as God commanded Moses in Exodus to 'throw down' his staff, God asks us to throw down the things that we hold tight, so we are free to accept all the blessings He has in store. Readers will receive the practical help and encouragement they need to throw down their hurts, habits and dependencies and to reclaim health, happiness and God's blessings.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Jud Wilhite serves as Senior Pastor of 15,000-member Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. He is the author of several books, including Uncensored Grace: Stories of Hope from the Streets of Vegas. Jud is also a creative partner with Pursuit.org and lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children. See website, www.POTSC.com
Read an Excerpt
Throw It DownLeaving Behind Behaviors & Dependencies That Hold You Back
By Jud Wilhite
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2010 Jud Wilhite
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Road Out
I wake sometime deep in the night, heart pounding frenetically on a cocktail of drugs, shivering in a cold sweat, my own saliva spilled in thick threads onto my face and chest. Barely able to rise and stand, I look in the mirror and the morose images swim around my head: purple sores, hollow cheeks, lost weight, vacant eyes. Seventeen and going on ninety, I no longer care about the terrible risk of recapturing a high that increasingly eludes me.
Gathering myself, I line up my considerable stash and take it all. I surrender myself to the mercy of the drugs. For the longest time, coming in and out of consciousness, I find myself gripping the bumper of my old red Fiero, throwing up violently, finding a strange comfort in the fact I will soon be dead ...
Later, I come to. Every part of my body hurts. As I wake, I feel the weight of a dark despair unhinging. The window blinds are pulled; I don't know what time of day (or even what day) it is. Lying on the floor too exhausted to move, I take in the soft and subdued light spilling around me. I am reminded somehow of grace. For the first time in my life, in the middle of my bottom, I desire to be free.
This book is about this desire for freedom and how I, along with many others, have experienced rescue, redemption, and hope. It is possible for you to be free and embrace the life God has for you. It is possible to become the person you were meant to be, the person you long to be. It is possible to experience life change.
We all have something we'd like to be freed from, something that holds us back. Maybe your issue is subtler than mine. Maybe you struggle with perfectionism. Perhaps you are addicted to approval. Anger could be wreaking havoc in your life. A manipulative approach toward people may be ruining every romantic relationship you've had. Maybe you overwork, overeat, overdrink, or overshop and eventually discover that you are being held captive. The very thing you desire, what you hope will set you free-enslaves you.
In the days following my nearly fatal overdose, I realize my lack of serious options. Exhausted by endless cycles of disappointment, hurt, suffering, and guilt, I come to understand at a very deep level my inability to save myself.
I can die, go crazy, or get help.
So I cry out. A few weeks after my overdose, I drop to my knees in my bedroom and say the only prayer I can muster: "God, help me. I'm messed up beyond belief. I need you." As my words dissipate, I listen to the sound of the unbalanced ceiling fan squeaking above me. No voice speaks audibly to me. In my heart, though, two words slowly take shape in my consciousness: Welcome home.
Only when I admitted my powerlessness to God did things begin to change. The Bible says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Prov. 9:10). That fear doesn't mean we walk around in terror. It means that we revere and respect God. The foundational aspect of wisdom does not begin with a degree, but in a faith birthed in the character and nature of God.
A harmful habit is rarely the result of a thing we do, but an idol we create. In the false hope of satisfying our deepest cravings for significance, comfort, security, meaning, approval, and ultimately love, we often place our trust in alternative saviors and swear allegiances to artificial gods. We seek to design our own agendas rather than trust in a God who asks that we give away our lives for the sake of others.
When we place our faith in such tiny gods, we sin, which literally means to miss God's mark for our lives. We intrinsically and inevitably follow a path to heartache. Think of all the broken relationships and torn lives in the wake of greed, lust, gossip, and relentless pursuit of success. Consider, too, all the years of life wasted in self-destructive patterns and self-defeating behaviors.
In the midst of my four-year wasteland of addiction, my parents make me go to church. Promising to go to youth group, I walk through the church into nearby alleys, killing time by smoking cigarettes. I observe people walking into the church building, but I don't really understand the attraction. When I reconnect with my parents, we play out the same conversation.
"What did you learn about in church, son?"
"Jesus," I say.
"And what about Jesus?"
"That he loves me."
I answer in this way because I believe this is what they wish to hear.
Secretly, deep in my brokenness, it is what I long to believe.
The biblical book of Exodus, which literally means "the road out," provides deep insights about moving out of captivity. Exodus chronicles the journey of the Israelite people from slavery to a new life of freedom in ways deeply applicable to our own contemporary journeys.
From slavery, God led the people of Israel into freedom. In the ancient wisdom of the biblical narrative, the book of Exodus foreshadows the movement into the full life promised by Jesus. It begins and ends with God's redemption. Exodus explains the great lengths God went to in order to accomplish the liberation of his people. He reveals himself to be both with and for his people. By the power and grace of God, Exodus brings us back to our true selves, destinies, and stories. In the depth of a great desperation we are not only reminded but also empowered to take the road out. And like all great Old Testament stories, Exodus points to the reality of Jesus, who came to "heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives" (Luke 4:18 NKJV). With a self-sacrificing love, Jesus bore the divine punishment and curse of sin, setting us free by God's power and grace.
All roads out eventually lead us to the love of Jesus.
My own road out of a deadly addiction eventually came full circle, leading me back to the church. Only God in his mercy and irony could take a messed-up kid lost in addiction, piece him back together, get him through college and graduate school, and deploy him in a place self-proclaimed the City of Sin. In Las Vegas, there are no culture wars. Morality lost. Built on a billion-dollar marketing machine, the city annually yields some of the highest rates in the nation for everything bad: drug use, domestic violence, addictions, and divorce.
Twenty-two years into my recovery, I pastor Central Christian Church, a church with campuses in unlikely places in Las Vegas and beyond. When tempted to despair against the long odds of ministry, I trace deep etchings of faith back to a day on the freeway, a few weeks after my nearly fatal overdose at the age of seventeen. Driving my red Fiero down a Texas interstate at seventy miles per hour, I found a supernatural power to throw my drugs out the window. In the days that follow, sweaty and clammy and grumpy, I understood the life-and-death nature of my circumstances and whispered my prayers continually: "I can't do this alone. God, help me. If you don't show up somewhere in my life, I'm through."
God gave me the grace to return to church on my own terms. Surrounded by a handful of people, I experienced recovery in a community of people who walked with me and listened and coached me off the edge. They were not scared away by my problems or doubts. God used the church to save my life. And then, through the church, the road led me back into the pain of a broken world.
I have seen Jesus' work in my own life, and in thousands in our church who experience freedom. Drugs should have killed me, and they almost did, but God provided the road out. A deep community of faith continues to sustain me in my life. Together, we have come to understand the irony of a power springing from powerlessness, and an overwhelming dependence on God that sets others and ourselves free. God's grace moves in power and love, often incognito, for the redemption of people trapped in the bondage of sin.
Together, we fight for freedom in the moment-by-moment reality of gratitude. We share what we experience through the person and work of Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again for our freedom. His sacrifice on the cross provided that path to pardon, and his resurrection opened up a road of life. Without shame, we follow him to find our true purpose-bringing glory to God, serving him, delighting in his freedom, and helping others walk in it.
No matter what you have done or where you have been, God in his love has made a road out from slavery to sin and self-defeating behaviors, a road to freedom. In the following pages, I'll share core principles that have freed thousands of people. I'll share the stories of several to inspire your own journey. Life change happens. Your future can look different. Tomorrow does not have to repeat the mistakes of yesterday.
For years, across the street from our original church campus in the Las Vegas area, strobe lights would shoot into the night sky from an adult bookstore. Directions to the church were easy: follow the lights to the "Live Nude Adult Bookstore" and turn right to the church. I like that because it's such a stark picture of repentance. We are all only a turn away from freedom.
So what's holding you down? What's weighing on you? You can break free. I know this can be scary, but see it as an opportunity. This is a chance to be free. Today, list the top three things holding you back from freedom with God, yourself, and others.
Excerpted from Throw It Down by Jud Wilhite Copyright © 2010 by Jud Wilhite. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 The Road Out 9
2 Beautiful Shambles 19
3 Throw It Down 31
4 No More Games 43
5 Grace Spilling Over 57
6 Hope on the Broken Road 69
7 Make It Right 81
8 Let God Fight For You 93
9 Ditch the Loner Routine 105
10 Guard Your Heart 115
11 Live Out Loud 127