Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review - Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland

One of the most pressing matters in the church today is that Christ is not our central focus. We come to our worship gatherings hindered in our worship of our Savior because we have placed other things before Him. Our days should be full of joy as we marvel at the majesty of Christ yet we seldom experience it. Why? Because, as Rick Holland has put it, “Jesus, the Son of God, has been eclipsed, and we’ve made ourselves at home in this new normal.” So Rick’s purpose in writing his book Uneclipsing the Son is to help bring us “face-to-face with the Christ of Scripture, the only One who can transform you just by knowing Him” (back cover), a task he accomplishes perfectly.

In the opening chapter he asks a series of questions that penetrate the heart of the reader, questions pertaining to Bible reading, prayer, reading Christian books, giving to the church, amongst others and how we fail miserably at most or all of these. We have good intentions of doing each of these better but our intentions don’t become a reality. After asking these questions he perfectly summarizes the condition of most believers with the following:
You’ve spent hours in a church, listened to countless sermons, compiled enough notes to sink a battleship. You’ve had enough good intentions to compete with Mother Teresa and enough failures to compete with Peter’s denials and Thomas’s doubts. You’ve even resorted to making deals with God. Still, something is woefully missing. There is a shadow, a pall over your very, very “normal” Christian life.
Chapter two is titled “Amazing Love, How Can It Be?” which deals with the truth that if we had a fuller understanding of the amazing love God has for us we wouldn’t allow anything to take the place of that love.

Chapter three Rick shows us from Scripture that God saves us, gives us eternal life, so that we can know Him now and forever. The Creator of the all that there is desires for us to know Him deeply and personally yet many of us put forth little effort in studying His Word, seeking Him in prayer and to grow and nurture our relationship with Him. Paul says in Philippians 3:7-8 that he “counts everything as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Nothing in this world compares to knowing our Savior and we should consider everything that we have as loss for the amazing privilege of getting to grow in our knowledge of Him. We must immerse ourselves in God’s Word to get that intimate knowledge of the One Who saves.

As if those chapters are not convicting enough Rick penetrates our hearts even more by showing that we need to gaze upon Christ by searching for Him in His word which will lead us to be more like Him. We become like Christ; more of Him and less of me.

Another area in our life that Rick pushes us to correct is our view of Christ’s bride, the church, and the importance it should have in our lives. We should long to come to God’s house, fellowship with other believers to worship our Savior yet most of us look at church as a burden. Christ views it as His bride and we should love Him with a deeper and more intimate love than we do our spouses.

Rick also deals with communion because it is a much needed but much neglected event in our relationship with Christ. Nothing that we do reminds us better of the death of Christ than when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. And as we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are to examine ourselves so that we don’t partake of it unworthily. Nothing but good can come from self-examination. We will see whether we are living for Christ as we should be and if we see areas that are not in line with His Word this gives us the perfect opportunity to allow His Spirit to change us, to mold us, to conform us into the image of Christ.

Obviously Satan does not want any of this to take place and he and his associates (Rick’s term for demons) will exploit our weaknesses and use them to distract us from uneclipsing the Son, a topic Rick devotes a chapter to.

Conviction rings from the first to the last page. Rick speaks plainly to the issues that all of God’s children face at different times in their spiritual lives, problems that we have created for ourselves. If you need help in making sure that Christ is the center of our life then this book is for you.

Rick is a gifted preacher of the Word, and if his first book is any indication he will be an equally good writer. I cannot endorse this book enough.