Book Review: Empty Promises by Pete Wilson

Diagnosis and prognosis, that’s what Pete Wilson’s book, Empty Promises offers. His intent is to show the truth about ourselves and even more the lies we find ourselves believing. Pete does a great job of uncovering our idols. Not the statues from long ago and far away, but the idols and empty promises of approval, finances, power, and the seduction that achievement can bring.

The idols that Wilson writes of aren’t the ones I often see in India, but as he defines it, “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.”

Still think that idols are so Old Testament deal or a country far away, here’s a good idol indicator he gives:

  • If I owned this, I would feel worthy.
  • If I achieved this, I would feel significant.
  • If I had what they had, I would feel content.
  • If I made a little more money, I would feel satisfied.

Pete Wilson does a great job of describing the empty promises such modern day idols bring in one’s life. The question is not do I have idols, the question is “Which idol is God’s biggest rival in my life?”

If Pete Wilson had only laid out the idols, the minefield of one’s faith relationship with God. This book would have been merely a good word of warning, but he does more. He not only reveals the idols at work in my life. He also lays out a solution, a game plan for reconnecting with the life fulfilling promises of God instead of being consumed with my idols’ empty promises.

The 1st 9 chapters of Empty Promises serve as a diagnostic tool for some of life’s prevalent idols. The last 3 chapters provide a blue print for what God wants to build that lasts.

1. You are what you worship.

Martin Luther wrote that whatever is number one in your life is your God. For some people that might be a favorite sports team, a specific individual, or their job. Worship that fulfills promises instead of running on empty focuses on who God is. He is more then a heavenly concierge, impatient father, or a cosmic cop. Pete says, “You can’t just relinquish an idol. You have to replace it.” We surrender up our idols and we surrender to Jesus.

2. Live close to the truth.

Pete here lays out spiritual habits that draw us closer to the One who is the Truth. Habits like solitude, fasting, God’s Word and prayer. Our lives become realigned, readjusted and refilled with the God who made us, loves us, died and rose again for us.

3. Pursue/Find soul satisfaction.

Pete reminds us of the danger of the Evil One who throws idols at us to pull us away from God, and how God’s desires for us fulfill and satisfy what no idol can do. He uses Daniel as a model/mentor/hero for us to follow in finding soul satisfaction. Before Daniel reached hero status in the Bible, he lived a life defined as one who serves continually and believes endlessly in God, not in any idol or promise of man.

I give Empty Promises 5 out of 5 stars. The book provided me with a good wake up call for my own idols in life and a re commitment like Daniel to serve continually and believe endlessly in who God is and what God is doing.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson and their Book Sneeze program for giving me a free copy of Empty Promises to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review. I simply enjoyed the book and encourage you to dig deep into its truths to find the One who is the source of life.


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