Friday, January 18, 2013

Empty Promises by Pete Wilson: A Book Review

We all long for more of something in our lives. In our endless pursuit to feel worth and acceptance we find ourselves sacrificing everything for the promise to be a little more beautiful, a little richer, a little more powerful and successful, a little more loved.

How do we break free from these empty pursuits and start chasing the only Promise that will ever satisfy? How do we uncover the hidden idols that are driving us and turn our devotion toward the one true God?

Join Pastor and best-selling author Pete Wilson in discovering the joy and freedom that comes with seeking after God with your whole life. Learn how to replace, and not just relinquish, life's empty promises by turning your focus and worship toward Him. It is the only thing that will set you absolutely free from the endless pursuit of everything else.


Empty Promises by Pete Wilson tackles the tough subject of modern day idolatry in the lives of Christians today. From money to power to religion, there are numerous idols that sit on the throne of our hearts. But these idols are oh-so-deceptive. At times, they come to us as wolves clothes in sheep's clothing. Idols are deceptively good. Thus, idolatry in our own lives is easily overlooked, unseen, or shrugged off as we fool ourselves into thinking that nothing is more important to us than God.

Pete takes the traditional definition of an idol and replaces it with his own, "idolatry is when I look to something that does not have God's power to give me what only God has the power and authority to do." With this definition, when we take good things - marriage, career, dreams - and pursue them with the hope that they'll make us happy, content, or even fulfilled - things only God  can truly do - then we have fallen into the trap of idolatry.

Throughout Empty Promises, Pete takes a systematic look at several common modern idols Christians struggle with today. He uses stories from his own life and of others to show the pitfalls of each idol. He also uses biblical examples to share how this constant struggle with idolatry has been with us since the beginning of time. But he doesn't stop there. Not only does he reveal what idols Christians struggling with, but he helps us identify specific idols in our own heart. Then he offers specific spiritual disciplines to aid us in removing the idol from our heart and replacing it with the One who belongs there.


Truth be told, before reading this book, I honestly thought that idolatry was something other folks struggled with, not me. If you would have asked me who/what was most important in my life, I would have quickly assured you that my relationship with God is top priority. After reading Empty Promises, my heart has absolutely been convicted and now realize that there are several different idols that battle daily for the throne of my heart.

At the top of that list is the need for approval. My heart desperately longs to be known, to be fully understood, and to be loved. As an introvert, it's difficult for me to make friends. I'm generally a quiet, shy person, and making the first move towards developing any type of friendship unnerves me. So I wait, longing for people to approach me, to want to be my friend. When that doesn't happen, the questions begin rattling around in my mind: am I not good enough? Am I not smart enough? Pretty enough? Thankfully I have family and friends who ground me and bring me back to reality, reminding me that I am good enough, smart enough, and pretty enough. That I am known and loved by them, and ultimately by the One who matters the most.

Next in line on the list is the desire for more money. My husband and I are not wealthy. We live in a single-wide trailer, with no cable nor internet, and we depend on the generosity of our families when emergencies arise (such as our heater going out last year) since finances are tight. Money, or lack thereof, is a constant source of stress in my life. In the book, Pete tells a story about a lady who asks him to pray she would win the lottery so she could be more generous. Pete's response cut right to my heart as he asked her if she was generous with what money she already had. OUCH. I wish with all of my heart I could say I was generous with the money I have now, but the truth is, I could give more. I could stop drinking so much Mt Dew every day so that I could give that money to someone else who truly needed it. There is always something I could do without right now so that someone else wouldn't have to go without.

Last, but not least, is chasing after the lies of religion. Religion lies to the heart and tells us we're not doing enough, serving enough, giving enough. It tells us that we can try all we want, but God will never be pleased with us. Pete shares the story of two sisters, Martha and Mary, found in Luke 10. Jesus comes to visit the sisters one day. Martha is a do-er, constantly distracted by what needs to be done. Mary, on the other, sat at Jesus' feet all day, listening to Him. Martha gets upset and confronts Jesus, asking Him to make Mary help her with all the work she is doing. But Jesus tells her, "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Jesus is clear - relationship with Him takes priority over working for Him. There is nothing, nothing that I can do that will make Him love me more (or less). Simply sitting at His feet and being in a relationship is enough for Him.


If you find yourself constantly pursuing after the next big thing, the (hopefully) love of your life, a big fat paycheck, or whatever the thing is that you think is going to make you happy, stop. Pick up a copy of Empty Promises and start the process of evaluating your heart so that you can identify the idols in your life. It won't be pretty, but it will make a difference in your life if you allow it.

Do you struggle with allowing certain idols to sit on the throne of your heart?

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