Thursday, September 25

Wild at Heart, a study with John Eldredge.

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly....who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory or defeat." Teddy Roosevelt, taken from John Eldredge's Wild At Heart introduction.

Every man questions the feelings, desires, and drive within him that from birth seems to drive him counterculturally and disruptively against the flow and ebb of life on this planet. He doesn't want to engage at a personal level, although he still hungers within for that very thing. Too often men wrap themselves up in pursuits...sports, hunting, fishing, extreme adventures, to make up for this need that burns inside them to matter, to challenge the world and succeed. Many times, such pursuits either break the man physically, and seem to leave him emptier than before.

Men are told that they cannot lead as the Bible says, because that is sexist and degrading, as the 'requirement' of women to 'submit' to the authority of their husbands has been misaligned and misused. Too many men deny the desire to lead, to defend, to fight the battle because they are told that such is not the mark of a man.
They deny the manner in which they were born, outside the garden in chaos and destruction, and the purpose to which they were given, the defense and growth of the beauty and order within the Garden.

As a result, men fail to grow up, spiritually and mentally.

But, within the community of Christ and worldwide secularly, there is an awakening of this discord among men.

Last night was the first meeting of the Men's bible study group, which met at the campus (a converted school building) of The River, member of a group of three churches that are led by Pastor Jim Combs, jr., and my first introduction to a group of men led by Dan Baxter and Steve Forney. Rather than just study the Bible, the decision was made to study Wild At Heart; discovering the secret of a Man's soul by John Eldredge of the Ransomed Heart Ministries.

In this book, Eldredge takes the reader through the journey of recovering the masculine hearts of men, as designed and perfected in the image of a passionate God, who were meant to bring strength and wildness to the world. Other books by Eldredge on the topic of discovering the heart of God include Epic, Waking the Dead, The Journey of Desire, Captivating, and The Sacred Romance, all of which I'd highly recommend.

Eldredge is a step deeper in the pursuit of masculinity than Pastor Robert Lewis, founder of The Men's Fraternity program. Eldredge uses the same milestones under different names as Lewis, but seems to take the passion level a bit deeper. As with Lewis' program, it is a great way to entice wavering men into the pursuit of God's intent for our strength and wildness that seems to have been DNA'd from birth. As with Lewis' program, Eldredge's ministry can be used by those women who desire to know what makes their husbands and sons tick, and what the intent of God was when He created them. This is helpful for those women who wish to help their men pursuit their God-ordained purpose.

I have read Eldredge's books, gone through the first year of Robert Lewis' Men's Fraternity and read his book Raising a Modern Day Knight. I would recommend these valuable resources to anyone seeking to right the unchecked wounding of generations of men and bring about a movement against the downward tide of society that has corrupted God's design for centuries.

The journey, of course, doesn't stop there (as those of you who know me know). Matt Lobel's ministry that challenges men into relational living as godly men pursuing God is another step in the journey. His Out of the Wild website, an online fellowship of men from all over, has been a staple of support, counsel, and wisdom for me in the two years I've belonged. It's at

Scott Engelman, Director of Awakened Hearts, takes men on a deeper quest still. Men Mentoring Men (M3) is a ministry that perfectly blends God's original intent of men, how the deviation from that has caused wounds to permeate the generations since Adam, and carries men through the journey to identify, heal, and correct the gaping wounds of a man's soul. Through such events as Men in the Woods and Rekindling the Heart, Scott and founder of Awakened Hearts Mark Jackson reconnect men with their silent and deadened hearts to reawaken what has lied dormant for far too long. Then they teach men and their wives how to recreate the marriage bond that often times lies weakened and potentially broken because of the wounding of men.

While Pastor Lewis speaks of "shaping the heart of men", Eldredge speaks to 'giving permission' for men to be what they were intended to be----beloved sons made in the image of God. Speaking to the deeper understanding of why men desire adventures, battles, and saving a beauty. He answers why women are unhappy with the men that society has created, who long to be that damsel who has the heart of the Knight, the protection of the Warrior, and the passion of the King.

Eldredge offers Wild At Heart as "a safari of the heart to recover a life of freedom, passion, and adventure."

"The core of a man's heart is undomesticated" Eldredge states in his first chapter, pointing to the 'natural' desire of a man to explore, to seek out new directions, and adventures told over and over in the life stories of men. This is in quest of his heart, to find those answers to "Who am I?", "What am I made of?" and "What am I destined for?"

To answer the question left in doubt by the silence of Adam, "Do I have what it takes?"

Eldredge points out, most men have found themselves not "sensitive enough, safe, manageable, and 'in touch' with their feminine side" and now are being told by the very culture that declared those things to be most desired in men that they aren't 'being men.' Such mettling in God's design by humanity has created a society in chaos, with a gender confusion that has altered the foundation of men and women alike. Men, who were told to be 'nice', have developed a phobia regarding masculinity; keeping promises, talking to their wives, raising their children, and being spiritual leaders. As Eldredge recounts the testimony of a fifty year old man in church, "I've pretty much tried for the last twenty years to be a good man as the church defines it.....dutiful and separated from my heart."

Eldredge uses Robert Bly's lamentation of this destruction and corruption of manhood in Bly's Iron John, "Some women want a passive man if they want a man at all, the church wants a tamed man---they are called priests, the university wants a domesticated man----they are called tenure-track people, the corporation wants a......sanitized, hairless, shallow man."

And we wonder why children are bringing guns to school, confused about their gender, and why a host of sexual deviations such as homosexuality, pornography, and child abuse run rampant in our culture today. Be careful of the monster you create, for as Frankenstein discovered, it will turn on you. This doesn't dismiss men's responsibilities nor places the burden solely upon the feminist movement; rather it is an understanding of 'where all the good men' have gone, forced out by a humanistic decision of what true sexuality in a man and a woman are.

Women have become jaded, lost, and torn too as their needs have been suborned by the same culture who declared that women had to be tough, efficient, and independent----never to subject themselves willingly to the 'leadership and authority' of a man. In making a human decision of the 'submission of a wife' instead of realizing the true intention of the God who spoke those words through His apostle Paul, we have created generations of women who long to feel beautiful, desired, and fought for.

Is it any wonder why marriages fail more often than succeed? Why sexual promiscuity is rampant and vernal diseases have reached epidemic totals? Why ten year olds are being taught humanistic sexuality in school and kindergarteners are given condoms?
We need to rediscover the process of growing wise, strong, and wild men to come along side their counterparts; nurturing, protective, and desired women. Not simply to reclaim 'our place' in the schemes of culture, but to halt the decay, the slide into the darkness that has come from the confusion and denial of God's design of man and woman.

"Every man needs to know he is powerful," Eldredge states. Made in the image of a God powerfully described by Walter Brueggemann as "wild, dangerous, unfettered, and free."

It is that challenge, to face the danger, that causes the destruction of cultural morals and spiritual guidance that has plagued our society for the last thirty plus years. When man denies that wildness in his heart, that question that needs danger to be answered, society loses one of its two mooring pins and is cast adrift.

And men become the very destruction that society claimed they once were, moving in destructive ways against the order and beauty which they are not meant to live in. They were created to move powerfully in the chaos and walk fearfully into the darkness to protect the beauty and order by reclaiming the darkness and chaos. It is the highest adventure that man can undertake.

Ramsey Clark, former United States attorney general under JFK and LBJ, and a leading peace and civil rights activist said "Don't ever seek to be the greatest. Seek, instead, to do great things. If you aspire to greatness, your greatness will die with you. But if you aspire to do great things, your legacy will live on. And the only way to do this is by being a servant. Lead by serving and you will do great things."

" In the way to eternal happiness, we must expect to be assaulted and sifted by Satan. If he cannot destroy, he will try to disgrace or distress us. Nothing more certainly forebodes a fall, in a professed follower of Christ, than self-confidence, with disregard to warnings, and contempt of danger," Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary on the following verse, "Unless we watch and pray always, we may be drawn in the course of the day into those sins which we were in the morning most resolved against. If believers were left to themselves, they would fall; but they are kept by the power of God, and the prayer of Christ."

"And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them. And David enquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand." 1 Chron. 14:8, 10 (KJV)

Therein lays the adventure, the purpose and the proper movement in fear with power that are characteristic of the real, necessary, and recoverable masculinity.

1 comment:

Julie at Ransomed Heart said...

Thanks for your post and for recommending John's books. We love that God is using the message of Ransomed Heart in your life. If you haven't yet, I think you will really enjoy John's latest, Walking with God. We also have some great audio resources that go more indepth into many of the topics raised--be sure to visit us at our online store,

Best to you,

Julie from the ministry of John Eldredge at Ransomed Heart