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Jun 9

Empty Promises by Pete Wilson

Posted on Saturday, June 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Author Pete Wilson has written Empty Promises because he believes that in subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways we practice idolatry.

Wilson explains that “every single human being has an unbelievable capacity for self-deception. It’s no wonder we fall for these empty promises over and over and over.”

“I believe one of the reasons God so adamantly speaks out against idolatry throughout the Bible is that we simply can’t worship something other than God and still live out our God-given purpose. What is that purpose? …Our purpose, in other words, is to reflect the God who made us.”

Here are some of the insights Wilson has offered:

Chapter One: Deceptively Good
Wilson has written Empty Promises because he believes that “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 give.”

It’s when we take good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turn to them in the hope that they’ll provide what only God can provide.

It’s when we buy into the empty promise that such things can give us the significance, security, safety, and fulfillment we crave.

It’s when we feel a God-given appetite and try to fill it with something that isn’t God.”

Chapter Two: The Aware Life
“I believe our desires are inside us for a reason. True, if left unmonitored, they can lead us right into empty promises. But they are ultimately there to lead us to Christ, the only person who can actually fulfill them.”

Chapter Three: The Seduction of Achievement
Wilson warns us that “gathering your self-worth externally is kind of like trying to fill up a lake with a Dixie cup. It’s just never enough. That’s why it’s so addictive.”

Chapter Four: Addicted to Approval
“Approval addiction is essentially an act of self-abandonment. Instead of finding your value and worth from your Creator, you have essentially given your heart up for adoption. You have given it away to others for love and approval, making them responsible for your feelings.”

Chapter Five: The Perils of Power
“How do we know whether our drive for significance has morphed and (we) have begun to worship power?  In my own life I’ve identified two huge red flags.”
– Avoiding Failure
– Refusing Correction

Chapter Six: Money Always Wants to Be More Than Money
“There is zero correlation between money and true peace. Zero.”
Wilson addresses three illusions many of us maintain about money:
Illusion #1: More Money Will Give Me More Security
Illusion #2: More Money Will Give Me More Peace and Happines
Illusion #3: More Money Will Make Me More Generous

Chapter Seven: Religion Lies
“Religion always tends to complicate what God has made simple…almost every generation and every culture has been tempted to add something to that equation. For instance:
• Jesus + circumcision = salvation
• Jesus + being immersed in water = salvation

Chapter Eight: Addicted to Beauty
Wilson exposes some of the foundational lies our culture has fed us about how we look.

Chapter Nine: Chasing a Dream
“Your dreams, no matter how wonderful they may be, will always make a lousy god.”

Chapter Ten: You Are What You Worship
“Without worship, my life quickly shrivels into insignificant moments, purposeless living, and meaningless idol worship that leave me longing and lost.”

Chapter Eleven: Living Close to Truth
“Simply identifying our idols and wanting to replace them probably won’t lead to any kind of personal transformation. What we really need is a way to experience God daily so we can continually break through the self-deception and realize just how lifeless and empty our idols are.”

Wilson explains that “there are certain spiritual practices that allow me to see more clearly the truth about myself, my desires, and the lies I’ve believed.”
– Solitude
– Fasting
– God’s Wod
– Prayer
Wilson explains the value of those disciplines, but extends this warning, “It is our time with him—not the spiritual practices that bring us to him—that shapes us more and more into the image of God originally planted within us even before our very existences.”

Chapter Twelve: Soul Satisfaction
“We were made to find our purpose, our destiny, in the One who created us. The fact that we get sidetracked, that we turn to idols to fulfill these God-given desires, doesn’t change the fact that God designed us to strive for something big.”

My Take

While Wilson has not broken new ground, he reminds us of the peril of idolatry, he exposes some of our idols, and his suggestions for how to overcome them are insightful. (See revision below)

I agree with Wilson: “I don’t think being mature Christians means getting to a place where we never deal with idolatry. Rather, maturity comes when we become aware that this is going to be a lifelong battle . . . and we make up our minds to engage in it on a daily basis.”

Please God help us!

Revision: With hindsight, Wilson’s insights may be new ground for many readers.  I, on the other hand, worked with the exceedingly wise Wayne Thyren for more than twenty years.  Wilson’s insights sounded like conversations with Wayne.  Beware of when we have…”a God-given appetite and try to fill it with something that isn’t God.” sounds like Wayne!  Not everyone had a thousand conversations with Wayne.  You can have Pete Wilson’s wisdom in print.


Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 […] “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Bring on the comments

  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to write the review. Means a lot to me.

  2. Thank you Pete for noticing that this review was written.
    You captured my attention in the first chapter, and kept me reading throughout.

  3. superb post!! keep doing this sweet stuff

  4. Thank you for your kind encouragement!

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