Thinking Out Loud

April 19, 2012

Book About Chasing Fulfillment is Most Fulfilling

I am biased.

I have read every book Pete Wilson has ever written — both of them — but I came to the first already a huge fan after years of reading Pete’s blog. When Plan B released, I raved, “I believe that with this single book, Pete Wilson moves outside the circle of American pastors and bloggers and into the arena of people we consider major Christian voices for this generation.” But it wasn’t just hype.

But with Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You’re Believing, I wasn’t sure if the second book could live up to the superlatives I had heaped on the first.

Not to worry. This book is a class act. I want to explain why in a moment, but first, I need to say that Empty Promises is about our various attempts to pursue happiness and satisfaction in life by chasing after and striving for the material things or marks of status that we think will help us attain that personal fulfillment. Of course — spoiler alert! — the end result is that the peace, joy, contentment and completeness we are looking for can only be found in knowing Jesus Christ.

But most of you who read this blog also read Pete’s blog, and you know him and wife Brandi and the three boys with the hip names, so I know you’re going to buy the book in some form or other; so let’s move on to why I think the book works so well.

First, there is the transparency of the author. There were times I cringed as I was reading, thinking, ‘Pete! What are you doing? Don’t you know some of the people who attend your church are going to be reading this?’  Especially when Pete shares about ending a recent phone call with church board members and then raking his hand across the desk sending everything flying. You’re not supposed to share those kind of stories. It spoils the pretense that keeps our Evangelical system working so well. Pastors can’t experience moments of brokenness, can they? That would make them… well… human.

Second, there is the obvious amount of work that goes into crafting any book. I remarked here awhile ago that I would love to see the large pieces of chart paper that a certain fiction writer must have tacked to his walls to detail the plot line of an obviously complicated book. It’s the same with non-fiction, though. There are quotations and footnotes to be sure, but each chapter, and each paragraph has to have a specific purpose. Put too much into one chapter and people miss the individual points. Put too little in, and the book is shallow. The forethought that goes into a book dictates a certain pacing will result and this book reminded me of that so well.

Third, there is the high value that is placed on scripture throughout each section. It’s like I’m conversing Pete — and listening to the weekly internet service from Cross Point means I am actually hearing his voice as I read — and at each juncture he’s saying, “You know that reminds of that time in the Bible where…” followed by a related text. There is a lot of scripture in Empty Promises. Which reminds me, if anyone tells you that the only way to teach the Bible is verse-by-verse exegesis, then hand them this book, okay?

Fourth, the DNA of the entire book can be found in each chapter, and on each page. Seriously. Rip a page out of the book and give it to someone and you’ve given them the essence of the whole. Except the page with the desk-raking story. Then again, maybe that page, too. I can’t say this about every book, or even most books that I’ve read, but it’s really evident that the essence of the book is written into every page.

Some will feel I’ve more dissected the book than anything, but I really feel that this is a writer who truly resonates with the average Joe or Joanne. Whether that’s because of his transparency, the conversational yet rich text, the identification with the various Bible stories used as examples, or the consistency of the message throughout; it’s hard not to see the book as though one is holding up a mirror to their own life.

Pete calls the book a “diagnostic” and that’s really what we need; because, as a culture, we in The West are chasing after all the entirely wrong things.

Read an excerpt from Empty Promises at Christianity 201
A copy of the book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Catch Cross Point Live at 6:00 PM Central Time, Sundays with live Q & A
or catch the Empty Promises series anytime at

September 29, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Another mid-week pause to look at some reading I did this week.

  • Our upper and lower comic selections this week are some Christian themes found at the daily newspaper comic, Pardon My Planet.  (Click the individual images…)
  • Here’s a controversial youth ministry concept:  Killing off the youth group as a separate entity within the larger church.   Links to video.
  • In the wake of the whole Glenn Beck thing, Parchment and Pen dusts off the classic question, Are Mormons Christians?
  • Even back in Augustine’s day, the church wrestled with the issue of celebrity conversions, and you may be surprised by his conclusion.
  • Here’s a trade review (for bookstore people) of a little 300-word title for kids and parents titled Our Home is Like a Little Church, a local-church publishing project that got picked up for national distribution.
  • If you found late-night TV Bible teacher Gene Scott quirky, you’re gonna see a similarity in these video clips from corporal punishment advocate Mike Pearl.
  • Another HT to Zach at Vitamin Z:  What constitutes “regular” church attendance?   This is a real issue both for families and for church leaders.    Here’s a comment from a pastor at one of Mark Driscoll’s satellite campuses.
  • Speaking of Mr. D., here’s a sometimes heated 12-minute discussion between him, Mark Dever and James MacDonald on the whole wisdom of multi-site churches.
  • Zac Hicks looks at the lack of spiritual warfare themes in modern worship in a piece on Why the Devil Hates “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”
  • Pete Wilson introduces Stephanie, who is willing to step out and share her story in a five-minute video, highlighting how so many of us have a need for approval.
  • On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of RZIM, Ravi Zacharias appoints Rick Pease as the new president of the apologetics ministry organization.   Link opens direct to an mp3 file of their radio broadcast.
  • Yes, as a matter of fact some people have updated Bishop Eddie Long’s Wikipedia page.
  • Was it atheists and agnostics or Evangelicals who scored the highest on the ABC News response to the Pew Forum religious knowledge test?  Watch the video or read the story.

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