Jud Wilhite is a pastor in Las Vegas. That statement right there should make this book stand out to you. Many Christians today would not step foot in “Sin City” on vacation, let alone actually move their whole family. A number of Christians would run from that city as if they were Jonah running from Nineveh. They would say the people in Las Vegas do not deserve God’s forgiveness; they deserve the same fate Sodom and Gomorrah received. However, Las Vegas is right where God has lead Jud and his wife and family to minister and make a huge impact for the kingdom of God. And make an impact is what they have done with God’s help. The cover makes the claim that the church where Jud pastors, Central Christian Church, has 20,000 members. You do not get to 20,000 members in sin city without having God working in an amazing way, especially in Las Vegas. However, even with all those acclaims, in Empty No More, Jud never comes across in a prideful manner or with the thought that he has arrived at a blessed sanctification but is very mindful of his own weaknesses and struggles as a pastor. This should also make you want to pick up anything he has written. If a pastor is able to start a church and grow it to 20,000 people in the shadows of one of the world’s most known cities, one that is known for its sin and debauchery, and remain humble at the same time, then he will probably have some encouragement for you and be able to challenge you in your walk with the Lord.
With that said, I do not want to puff up Jud Wilhite in that everything he has done so far has been by the grace of God. Jud does a great job in this book of putting forth Biblical truth in easy to understand and relate to terms. What is this book all about? It is all about the love that Jesus has for everyone, from the biggest, most popular preacher in the world to the lowest of homeless people. God loves everyone the exact same and has extended that love to everyone, shown through the sacrifice of His only Son to redeem humanity. Within every human is the desire and longing to be loved by someone or something. This indwelling desire was created in us by the God who is defined as love and no matter what else we try to fill that hole with, it will remain empty until God Himself is able to fill it with Himself. Jud many stories of people in the Bible and in Las Vegas who tried to find love in other places only to be left down and out. These stories will grip your heart and emotions all the while pointing you towards the only One who can be everything we need. Love is something that many times can be difficult to define but easy to spot when seen in action. Along those lines, when someone encounters true love, they are changed. No one can encounter true love and not be affected by it.
Unfortunately, there are many Christians today who remain completely unchanged by the love God has for them. They go through motions, sing empty songs, pray heartless prayers and live lives that are far from what God called us to. We long to experience love but do not want to face the sacrifice required to love. When love is truly present, so is humility, forgiveness, grace, truth as well as justice. There can be no love where there is no sacrifice and that is where many people stop in their pursuit of love. They do not want to sacrifice any of their own comforts or pleasures for the sake of others. Jud shares how his church went through a transition where they really had to consider who they wanted to minister to and how they could reach out to them. One thing he mentioned to make this part stand out was how some people who attend their services come straight from their place of employment, that in many instances, are establishments many Christians would not even go near. However, how could a church that taught of a God of love and grace not be willing to reach out to anyone and everyone? Is that not the very example that Jesus Himself put forth through His life?
Empty No More is a great book for men and women who have been Christians for years as well as new believers. In fact, this book would be a great book for anyone who is entertaining questions about what God is like. Many times we forget that to truly love, it means getting messy and dirty because people are messy and dirty and yet Jesus never ran from loving those people so why do we? I greatly enjoyed this book and finished it challenged but also encouraged to rest in God’s love for me. After reading this book, you will walk away renewed and refreshed.
Let me share a couple quotes that stood out to me:
“He doesn’t simply want to change your mind; He wants to radically change your heart.”
“The Cross declares that God values people so much He was willing to pay the price of His very Son for them. You and I will not lock eyes with anyone this week who does not matter deeply to God.”
“We may experience love in our lives and see glimpses of it, but the cross is the only act of pure love performed without the slightest hint of false motives in world history.”
“Don’t wait for the light to turn green before you do something; assume the light is green unless God stops you with a red one.”
“If you aren’t getting criticized for something it may be because you aren’t doing anything.”
“When you help people who don’t deserve a second chance with a third, fourth, and fifth chance, people will say you’re crazy – I call it being a Christian.”
There is so much more in this book I would like to share but I encourage you to read the book for yourself. It is worth your time. Towards the end of the book, Jud shares how God’s love, when we allow it to work in our lives, should push us to live lives that truly portray the love that God has for us. This will cause us to look at our lives introspectively and maybe even make some changes in how we live so that we can ensure God’s has full control of our lives and we are not holding on to anything and trying to only allow God to work in the ways that we want Him to. Living as a Christian and living out the love God has for us is a call to live completely against the norm, a call to live radically, freely, but most importantly, fully. Pick up a copy of Empty no More, you will be glad you did.
Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this book from Baker Books in return for a review of the book.