Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chapter 1: Stages

Thoughts and observations on Chapter 1:

Through examining Scripture [and the examples of role models], Eldredge arrives at the stages, or roles, of a man's life. He makes it clear that any one of these stages can overlap and process at different times. The stages are:

Cowboy - In this stage, a young man [usually around 13] begins his adventure. He learns skills necessary for a trade or sport. He wants to explore the open frontier.
Warrior - In this stage, a man [now in his twenties] learns to fight the good fight. He takes a stand.
Lover - In this stage, a man [usually in his late thirties to forties] learns to really love not only a woman (preferably his wife), but God. He is more apt to read poetry and enjoy the beauty that God has created.
King - In this stage, a man is the King of his family, work, and friends. He may be a CEO or senior Pastor. He is a leader and protector.
Sage - In this stage, a man is the wisdom provider. Family, friends, and former colleagues come to him for advice.

Eldredge makes clear that these roles can be blended, i.e. the Warrior and King. A man can also be thrust into a role, i.e. divorce of a parent, leaving him prematurely to be King.

A couple of biblical examples:
King David - cowboy (shepherd), warrior, lover, king, and sage. The Psalms testify to David's roles.
Jesus - learning to be a carpenter, God's Beloved Son, Warrior, He loved [and loves] us so much that he took our punishment for our sins, Almighty King and Sage.

In conclusion, these roles occur in different ways and at different times. No one can predict what happens in our lives. Eldredge wants men to be surrounded with a "band of brothers" whom trust each other and help one another grow in their roles. He does a great job illustrating each role and why they are so important to men.

Lastly, I leave you with this:
I once heard John Croyle speaking on manhood. To paraphrase, he told his wife [in regards to his son, Brodie] that once Brodie turned 13, he would begin to leave the warm confines of his mother's arms and learn to become a man. As many of us know, Brodie became the starting quarterback for the University of Alabama and his character speaks louder than words.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A New Beginning

I originally began this blog as a study tool for John Eldredge's, "Wild At Heart", book. I will now continue this format with John's new book, "The Way of the Wild Heart". I will examine this book chapter by chapter and write my thoughts.

Also, if you haven't picked up either "Epic" or "The Way of the Wild Heart", I suggest you do so. Epic is an easy read, but rich in meaning. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Part 8: A Band of Brothers

What is a band of brothers?

John Eldredge comments in part 8 on the DVD that the men in the video are his brothers. They work together; play together; worship together; their families fellowship together; they go through the good and bad times together; they laugh and cry together. What they are not is an accountability group...a group tracking each other's sins. A band of brothers go much deeper than superficial fellowship and accountability.

Watch the Lord of Rings trilogy and see how the 'Fellowship' interact with one another. Watch the HBO series, "A Band of Brothers", parts 1 & 2 and notice how EZ company support each other. Watch the men in Gladiator fight together in the coliseum. Watch the Scottish armies form in Braveheart.

Brotherhood is essential to our walk in Christ. Without brotherhood, we feel alone. No one likes to take the journey alone. Where would Frodo be without Sam? The apostle Paul had Timothy and Apollos. Peter had James. David had Jonathan. Friends who journey and fight the good fight together.

How do we find these 'band of brothers'? John Eldredge says pointedly, "Pray." Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to other men who are searching as well. Craig McConnell mentions this 'brotherhood' won't form overnight, but in God's time.

Lastly, a band of brothers are actively involved in each others lives and look out for one another through Christ. So many relationships fail due to fear of committment, pride, or selfishness. Don't allow Satan a foothold in your brotherhood. Keep committed to each other and Christ to lead you on the adventure.

Are you ready to begin?

Sam: This is it.
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.
Frodo: Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Part 7: Rescuing the Beauty

Lesson 7: Rescuing the Beauty

If you want a really good synopsis of this chapter watch the movie, True Lies. Pay close attention to Jamie Lee Curtis’ character, Helen Tasker. Helen is a bored, lonely, and unfulfilled housewife. She longs for excitement. She wants to be seen as ‘captivating’. She wants a prince to ride in and sweep her off to his castle. She wants to be a part of the adventure.
Only after a series of events does her husband, Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger), realize and understand what he has done to her. He rightfully changes to be her knight and includes her in the adventure.

John Eldredge remarks that he, too, had used work as an ‘escape’ leaving his wife longing. He was having a dangerous affair with work. John mentions he felt "affirmed" at work, yet not at home. For many men, work is their ‘bride’ who builds them up and champions their efforts.

We saw, from the DVD lesson, that women want to be seen, rescued, and be a part of their husband’s adventure. They want to be longed for. They carry wounds and want their hearts to be set free. They want their husbands to be warriors, not ‘nice’ guys.

The culture today wants men to be passive with their wives and children. Satan thrives on lazy, cowardly, and bench-warming Christian men. God says differently:
Nehemiah 4:14
"Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."

Take this time to share this lesson with your wife and solicit honest feedback. Sure, it may be painful, but remember she is your beauty. Always be willing to fight for her and rescue her.

Helen Tasker: "Have you ever killed anyone?"
Harry: "Yeah, but they were all bad."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Part 6: The Adventure

"It's not just a's an adventure!" says Bill Murray's character in the movie Stripes. He's right. Actually John Eldredge takes this phrase one step further. Everything we do in life should be an adventure. Now I'm not saying everything is going to be action-packed. If you read the accounts of any climber tackling Mount Everest, you'll see there are necessary down times. However, we should be living an adventure; a journey filled with purpose and wonder.

"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is men who have come alive."
- John Eldredge

I love the thrill of adventure and the unknown when all seems to be positive. But put me in a potentially negative spot and I worry. My wife tells me to live what I preach. Live the adventure no matter what the travels may bring. Isn't this what Gandalf told Frodo? Is the adventure going to be an easy walk in the grass? I don't think so. The adventure is full of risks, perils, jumps, and maybe a scrape or two. And what are we waiting for?

Comfort. Control. Assurance. The known. Ever swim in the ocean out in the deep? The thought can be frightening. No bottom to touch - maybe even no land to see. How was it that Abraham and Sarah survived in the vast desert? How did Joshua, Gideon, and David defeat their enemies? Faith in the Almighty God. The One who loved us before we loved Him.

When we truly live for God, through Jesus Christ, wonderful and amazing events begin to happen. We get in midst of an adventure where God is our guide and life takes on a whole new meaning.

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
- Earnest Hemingway

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Battle: Part 2

The Battle: Part 2

John Eldredge mentions three parts to a spiritual battle with Satan:

Stage 1: I’m Not Here
"You can’t fight a battle you don’t think exists."
John Eldredge
For those of you who have seen The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, this stage one theme is mentioned throughout. The king of Rohan, Theoden, falls to deceit, unaware of the battle. Denethor has the enemy at his gate, but refuses to charge his soldiers to protect Gondor. Unknown to you, the enemy is near and wants you in his clutches. Are we aware of his presence?
1 Peter 5:8 – 9
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (NIV)
Now look at Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of the same scripture:
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.
John’s story of the ministry that dissolved was a clear example of what ‘napping’ can do.

Stage 2: Intimidation
I believe Satan is the creator of doubt and fear. For some time now, I’ve thought about going into a career in ministry for youths. God and Satan both know this. God says, "Have faith – go and do." Satan says, "I doubt you can do it. You worry too much about your family, your friends, your church. You’re a poser and a failure. Go back to your hole."
This is how Satan intimidates us. He may not use doubt or fear, but he may use finances, past sins, regret, etc. Look how often his lies infect Christ’s church:

Want to join the church choir, but afraid your voice will crack under pressure?
Do you feel led to begin a new ministry, but don’t have the financial resources?
Long to give more time to the church, but doubt you can make room in your already busy schedule?

I believe you get the idea.

Stage 3: Cutting a Deal
Satan wants to deal when we take a step and stand for God. Satan says, "Let’s put our guns down slowly and back away so no one gets hurt." Or, "I’ll let up on the doubt and fear if you just forget about that ministry idea."
It is here that we use the sword of the Spirit to cut down Satan. He fears the Christ knowing how powerful Jesus is. Jesus is the ultimate sword bearer. As believers in Him, we too can use the sword. God wants us to use his sword - his word.
John uses Revelation 21:7 – 8 to give us a picture when we don’t fight:
7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
Did you see, "cowardly"? Jesus is not talking about humble, but cowardly. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to be known as a coward in the eyes of God. Living for God, through Christ, takes strength. We all have the strength in Christ to carry on.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lesson 5: The Battle

Lesson 5: The Battle

“The Lord is a warrior;
The Lord is His Name.”
- Exodus 15

How many men do you know could handle themselves in a fight - physically AND spiritually? This is the essence of John’s message. In today’s Christian culture, we and our boys, are not taught to be warriors; we’re taught to be ‘nice’. Our culture has come to expect us to be ‘nice’. And if we aren’t, then we’re shamed. Now let me be clear – I’m not talking about being a gentlemen or chivalrous. I’m speaking of being nice in everything we do. As John quoted Philip Yancey, “No one would crucify Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo.”

Men are wired for battle. Show me a godly major character, in the Bible, who didn’t fight.
Adam – fought against the hardships of becoming flesh: Exodus 3:17
Moses – fought against doubt that he could lead the Jews out of Egypt
David – fought against the Philistines and his own desires
Jesus – fought against Satan and hard-hearted, hard-headed Pharisees. He fought death.

Interesting that the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke each quoted Jesus yelling at the Pharisees. He didn’t kindly call them hypocrites. Oh no. He yelled at them – screamed at them. In the video, Bart points out that Jesus knew his audience. The lepers, He touched them with his hands and words. To the adulteress, he defended and to the foolish Pharisees, well, let’s just say He ripped their souls in two.

Is this the Jesus we’ve been taught throughout our Christian lives? I wonder how many Christian teenage boys were taught, this past Palm Sunday, that Jesus tore up the Temple after his triumphal entrance in Jerusalem? Better yet, look at remainder of Matthew 21. Jesus is fighting battle after battle - the battle against cynics, doubters, and hard hearts. In Matthew 21:18, Jesus purposely withers a fig tree that doesn’t bear fruit. The disciples are “amazed”! Why? They had seen Jesus heal and restore, but never condemn a living being. Sure, He defeated evil spirits, but not a living, visible being. The tree did not serve a purpose. Ouch!

Physical and spiritual battles. Have you got what it takes to fight the good fight? Is there a battle in your life where you need to take up the sword?

Matthew 21: 21 – 22:
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Our next journey will take us to, The Adventure. We love adventure! Please read those chapters in your WAH book and answer the Field Manual questions.