Thursday 17 March 2016

Book Review: Idols of the Heart - Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

Photo courtesy of P&R Publishing
The Blurb

Do you feel discouraged, even defeated, in your battle against habitual sin? Are you dismayed or surprised by the situations that bring out your fear, anger, or distress? Elyse Fitzpatrick delves into the heart of the problem: deep down, we're all idol-worshippers who put our loves, desires, and expectations in God's place—and then suffer the consequences of our misplaced affections. Yet God loves his people and can use even our messy lives and struggles for his glory. Fitzpatrick shows us how to better search and know our hearts, long for our gracious Savior, and resist and crush our false gods. Includes questions for further thought. Revised edition of the one published in 2002.

My Review

I've read a few of Elyse Fitzpatrick's books now (and featured them on ACW) and when I saw that she was updating one I had NOT previously read I willingly volunteered to read an Advance Reader's Copy (ARC) of the new version. 

Idolatry continues to be a key challenge for believers. Anything that limits our love for God is an idol and from her years counseling people and in her own life Fitzpatrick is able to see how idols can take root in our hearts and weave their way through our everyday thoughts and actions.

For many of us we are aware of idols in our life but we can tend to either downplay their significance or attempt to kill them off ourselves. With tremendous Biblical teaching Fitzpatrick outlines how critical it is to be dealing with our idols but also letting the Holy Spirit manage the process.

What I particularly appreciated about this book is how practical it is. Fitzpatrick provides a step-by-step process for identifying potential idols in your life and provides herself as an example to demonstrate the process. Further, she outlines how to deal with them via prayer, repentance, and practical obedience.

For many of us we believe we can kill sin in our life through willpower or self-discipline and in the excellent Chapter 9, Fitzpatrick explains that fundamentally habitual sin is a heart problem. Our desires are fallen. The enemy who prowls around us all day every day uses those desires to tempt us to sin. Hence, we can only kill off sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was able to fend off Satan in the wilderness because from the very beginning of His life His desire was always to please the Father.

The book ends with a powerful Chapter on deepening our love and reverence for God. Like Jesus, if our desires are increasingly refocused to pleasing the Father dealing with temptations when they strike will get easier.

I highly recommend this book. Each chapter ends with "Further Thought Questions" which help you digest the content and apply it to yourself. In addition, the publisher provides a study guide (PDF) on their website which I'm planning to use when I give the book a second reading.

As I mentioned above I was provided with an ARC by the publisher but was in no way influenced to provide a positive review.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard received the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Sample downloaded . . .

    Thanks for the review, Ian. I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but I always find your reviews add another book to that endless to-read pile.

    1. As I mentioned, Iola, I do appreciate Elyse's work. If you only read a little non-fiction I'd encourage you to explore her material. Elyse has such a beautiful way of explaining grace when dealing with our sin and messiness. Perhaps start with one of her 30 day devotionals to get a flavour.

  2. Thanks for that review Ian. Definitely sounds like one to read.

    1. Hi Dale, it sure is a good one. I about to dive in for the second time and do the study guide as well.


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