“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?”
I recently had the privilege of hearing Pastor Pete Wilson speak at a church here in Arizona. He is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee. To say I was blessed would be an understatement. His passion for Jesus shines clearly through his message. His ability to communicate God’s Word in a dynamic and applicable way stirred my heart towards a deeper love for Jesus. Needless to say, I readily purchased his two books that night and dove into them right away.
Empty Promises is Pete’s newest book and one that is definitely worth reading. The sad reality in our culture and society today is that we all are wrapped up in empty pursuits. In one way or another, we each look to things, people, position, etc. to bring us value, worth, acceptance, and fulfillment. Unfortunately, none of these “things” that we chase have the ability to satisfy the true cravings of our souls. Jesus Christ alone was meant to fill that void.
Pete does an incredible job of addressing some of the major idols of our day, things that we bow down to, worship, sacrifice for, and ultimately replace for Jesus Himself. We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced the let down of yet another thing that promised to satisfy us but didn’t. So, why do we keep chasing these pursuits? What do we do to break free from this vicious cycle and begin to run towards the one true Promise that will give us everlasting life?
Whenever I do a book review, I really like to share “My Top 10”. These are the major points that stood out to me the most. There was so much incredible content in this book that it was difficult for me to narrow it down to just 10, but I’ll do my best. Again, I would strongly encourage you to get a copy of this book. In our pursuit to become more like Jesus, it’s an incredible blessing to learn from those who themselves strive to be more like him. Pete Wilson is one of those people – radically devoted to Jesus Christ and proclaiming the message of the Gospel. Be blessed by choosing to read this one!
1. “We are a people wired to worship. The question isn’t ‘Do we worship?’ The question is ‘Who (or what) do we worship?’”
Because God created us for His glory, we were built to be worshippers. This is precisely why the enemy thrives in distracting us from our worship of Jesus Christ. He uses the empty promises of looks, fame, fortune, and others to lure us away from the heart of God. Who/what are you worshipping? Which idol is God’s biggest rival in your life? Don’t be deceived. Idols are not only found in pagan temples. They reside in our hearts.
2. “The stupidity of sin”
We’ve heard sin described as many things – wrong, evil, destructive, tempting, etc. Rarely have I heard it described as stupid, and yet it is! If we could truly see sin for what it is, how many of us would run in the other direction? They always say “hindsight is 20/20”. With God’s Word written on our hearts and imbedded in our thoughts, we don’t need to learn the hard way anymore. Sin is stupid, and the pursuit of it is foolishness. Choose to hold God’s Word up as the final authority in your life, and you’ll begin to find yourself chasing after fewer empty promises and rather pursuing the one Promise that can satisfy your soul.
3. “…for those of us who wrestle with gathering our self-worth externally, it’s not really the accomplishment we’re after. The recognition of the accomplishment is the addictive drug for us.”
True humility is a rare trait these days. People with the best intentions still struggle with this desire to be recognized, awarded, noticed, and valued for the things they accomplishment. It is becoming more and more rare for someone to be content in the background. Yet, God’s Word calls us to a higher standard – to have the attitude of Christ Jesus who gave up His high position in heaven to humble Himself here on earth with us. Seek the fame of His name rather than your own.
4. “You, too, are more than your giftedness.”
What a freedom statement! We get so wrapped up in what we do that we lose sight of whose we are. God gifted each one of us for His purposes to further His Kingdom. When we lose sight of the purpose behind the gifts, we become self-centered as opposed to Christ-centered.
5. “If you depend on other people approving or supporting everything you say or do, you will end up doing and saying nothing. You will be handcuffed to mediocrity.”
Being addicted to the approval of others is simply bondage. No two people will want the exact same thing from you, and you’ll never be able to deliver. Seek the approval of God.
6. “I’m not sure there is a more potent, more addictive drug than power…To me, it seems more destructive and seductive than almost any other single idol.”
What is interesting about our desire for power is that our initial attraction to power usually stems from a desire within us for purpose. See how Satan takes a good thing and distorts it into sin? Wanting our lives to make a significant difference is a God-given desire, yet when distorted by the sinful desire to control people and things around us, we’ve once again turned to something other than God to fulfill us. When we begin to avoid failure at all costs and refuse correction in our lives, we can be sure that we’ve fallen prey to this empty promise.
7. “There is zero correlation between money and true peace.”
I would say that most of us have believed at one time or another that money would solve our problems. If I could just make a little more, save a little more, spend a little more, I would find happiness. But another large problem with the empty promise of money bringing happiness is that very few of us would probably admit that we love wealth. Not until our luxuries are taken away would we be able to see this sin for what it is in our own lives.
8. “I’m always falling for the lie that God is more pleased with me when I’m doing something for Him instead of just trying to be with Him.”
The world tells us that religion is the way. Do this, don’t do this, be a good person. That is your ticket into heaven. God says that He’s after our hearts. He wants to be in relationship with us. Religion kills. Relationship gives life.
9. “Only a submitted life can be shaped and molded by the Potter.”
So many of us say that we want to be more like Jesus, yet we refuse Him access to many places of our hearts. True submission is hands up in the air, total release of control, and complete trust in God’s ability to make of you what He desires in every way and every area of your life.
10. “Because God cares more about who we’re becoming than where we’re going.”
Most of us have dreams for our lives – who we want to marry, the type of family we’ll have, the career, house, car, vacations, retirement, etc. None of those things in and of themselves are wrong, but when our focus becomes more about those things and less about becoming the type of person God wants us to be, that’s when we’ve gotten off track. Too many of us have bought into the lie that God wants us to be happy. Stop and read this next statement slowly: God wants us to be holy. Happiness is not something that is promised to God’s children. Joy is promised, but joy is not happiness. God cares about the kind of person you are becoming.
Thank you for your review of this book… I am ordering it today. I have been a very “sad” place for the past week. You are such an encouragement to me.