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Wild at Heart PARTICIPANT'S GUIDEA Band of Brothers
By John Eldredge
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 John Eldredge
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePART 1
The heart of a Man
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:26-27
Most of us know the oil level of our cars or the state of our investments better than we do the vitality or desires of our heart. And it's completely understandable; there are many things set against you, many distractions and demands upon your life. But these distractions come at a cost: as we tend to our daily demands, we ignore our masculine heart.
In the first session of our series, Bart, Morgan, Craig, and Gary joined me for a day of horseback riding up in the Colorado Rockies and talking about the heart of a man.
WATCH PART 1: THE HEART OF A MAN
KEY THOUGHTS This session corresponds with chapters 1 and 2 from Wild at Heart. The major points of these chapters are summarized here.
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God made the masculine heart and sets it within every man he creates.
There is, therefore, something deep and true and universal to the masculine heart. And it's been lost-or better, driven into hiding.
You cannot get your masculine heart back through duty and obligation. You must pursue it with your deepest desires. What makes you come alive?
Somewhere down in your heart are three core desires: a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.
God, too, has each of these longings lodged deep in his heart: the yearning for a battle to fight is deep in the heart of God. He, too, longs for adventure and risk-far more than we do. And he has a beauty to rescue, whom he pursues with amazing passion.
After watching the DVD segment, it should be clear that the men in this group have varying levels of comfort when it comes to riding horses. Some of us had a lot of experience on horseback. A few of us were very anxious about the day.
* With whom did you identify most when it comes to riding horses? Why? * As you listened in on the conversation these men were having about the true nature of the masculine heart, what struck you as the most important, the most relevant point they made?
* The major theme of this book is the core desires of a man's soul-at battle to fight, an adventure to live, a beauty to rescue. Can you identify these in your life? Where or how?
Craig talked about his boyhood neighborhood and how he and his friends loved to play army. His little platoon defended the neighborhood with popguns and tangerine grenades.
* What adventures or games did you play and love when you were a boy?
In the same way God called Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted and took Elijah into the wilderness to find his true destiny, he calls a man out of his comfort zone to discover who he is. It is in the wilderness that God shows us we have what it takes to live the very life for which God created us. Unless we step out into that adventure God has for us, we will never learn it anywhere else. It cannot be learned on the sofa.
* What comfort zone is God calling you out of?
* What adventure is he leading you into?
* Is it a tame, controllable adventure or a wild and unpredictable one?
* Walter Bruggerman describes God as "wild, unfettered, dangerous, and free." Is that how you would describe the God you've been told about?
"Desire" is central in mapping out your masculine journey. Don't ask what the world needs; ask what makes you come alive: that's what the world needs!
* Consider what makes you come alive. With that in mind, finish this sentence: "For the rest of my life, I want to _____________."
* What, beginning this week, would that look like?
Turn to the Lord in prayer, giving him the desires that have lain in your heart for years or asking him to reveal the desires that you can't seem to put your finger on. Trust him to show you the way to start your journey.
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O Lord, open wide the eyes of my soul that I might see the true yearnings of my heart. Uncover my desire for adventure, battle, and beauty. Begin to dismantle all the messages that have challenged and assaulted your design of me. May your invitation to life as a man be forever before me. I accept the invitation to live from my deep heart. Father, use the words of this book and the meditations of my heart to guide, shape, and direct me in this journey that I might be the man you designed me to be. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
If you truly want to embrace the untamed journey Christ has planned for you, you won't be satisfied thinking about this just once a week. This section is designed for you to study the topic further on your own after your group meets. So make some time throughout the week (on your lunch break, instead of watching TV at night, or in the early morning) to read through these questions and consider what God is saying to you here.
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It can be very awkward for men to share their hearts. It's slow going and uncomfortable-territory we're not used to traversing. But the alternatives are to hide in isolation or live as an impostor, and who wants that?
* How did the group conversation and interaction go when you met? Did you find yourself reluctant to share your thoughts? Did you temper them, or do you regret saying too much?
* What did God say to you as you were meeting with the men? Did he impress anything on you during that time?
* What do you hope to achieve in this group? Do you have a goal in mind? Are you willing to let God change that goal, if that is his will?
There is the life we were meant for and the men we were created to be ... and then there is the life we have and the men we find ourselves to be. They are often worlds apart.
* How is the man you find yourself to be different from the man you were created to be?
* At this stage of your life, what is your great battle? Is it on the surface (making more money, getting the kids to behave, reducing the hassles of life?), or is it deeper? Are you willing to share it with the men in your group?
* Where is your great adventure? What real risk have you been swept up into? (Is anything in your life more compelling than watching sports, following stocks, or viewing the adventures of others on TV?)
* And who is the beauty you are fighting for? (Is there a woman in your life who stirs you to leap through a ring of fire to win her?)
Dr. Tremper Longman III, the coauthor of Bold Love, wrote, "Virtually every book of the Bible-Old and New Testaments-and almost every page tells us about God's warring activity."
* Have you ever considered the Bible to be an account of a great battle that God himself is fighting?
* How does this help you interpret all that's going on around you in your life today?
Go back to God and talk with him about where your heart is on all you've discussed and thought about this week. End your time here praying, in your own words, the prayer on page 15.
Next week your group will discuss the second DVD segment, "The Poser and the Question." In order to be prepared to share your thoughts with your group, read chapter 3 from Wild at Heart this week prior to your group meeting.
The Poser and the Question
I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid. -Genesis 3:10
What kind of life would you have to live to eliminate all fear or risk? No matter how many insurance policies you purchase, helmets you wear, personas you create, or doors you lock, one of the certain lessons life teaches us is that there is no escaping fear and risk.
In this DVD we'll be talking about our deepest fear while rapelling a one-hundred-foot cliff. But our fear isn't heights; the central fear all men share is that we will be exposed as an impostor, a poser, a man who doesn't really have what it takes.
WATCH PART 2: THE POSER AND THE QUESTION
This session corresponds with chapter 3 from Wild at Heart. The major points of this chapter are summarized here.
* * *
The world is filled with caricatures of masculinity-posers- but very few real men.
And every one of us posers shares a deepest fear: to be found out, exposed as an impostor.
The reason, in part, goes back to Adam's fall-and the way every man since him has also fallen to the temptations of sin.
Men handle their fallen nature by either becoming violent (driven) or retreating (passive)-we mishandle our strength.
Each of us had our turn rappelling. Even a couple of the experienced guys admitted that anytime you step backward off a one-hundred-foot cliff, you feel a bit of the "pucker" factor.
* How would you do rappelling?
A man is fierce ... passionate ... wild at heart? You wouldn't know it from what normally walks around in a pair of trousers. If that's true, how come there are so many lonely women, so many fatherless children, so few men around? Why is it that the world seems filled with "caricatures" of masculinity? How come when men look in their hearts they don't discover something valiant and dangerous, but instead find anger, lust, and fear? Why is that?
In last week's "Going Deeper" section, you were asked a question about vulnerability. The success of this group is based proportionately on the willingness of everyone to be honest and open with one another.
* Do you feel you were an open book last week?
* Did you write down a goal you have for this group? If so, what is it?
We are made in the image of the Lion of Judah to fight great battles, take great adventures, and rescue the beauty. When I asked the guys if that's how they feel inside most of the time, Gary admitted that in a variety of circumstances, what he felt most was fear. It's the fear that comes from not knowing what to do and being afraid to ask.
* Describe how you feel inside most days. (Strong, unfettered, free, alive, adventurous, fearful, apprehensive, hesitant?)
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." -Genesis 3:6-10
* How do you feel about the fact that Adam was standing right there when Eve was being tempted, and he didn't do a thing?
* Can you see that same passivity in your own life?
Men are geniuses at designing elaborate fig leaves, brilliant disguises that we call "personality." Like Adam, we are afraid we aren't what we should be. So we create "The Poser" to hide behind. When we ask ourselves, "Have I got what it takes?" we fear we don't, and the poser is born. But this disguise has become so second nature to us that most men are only half-aware of the ways they hide.
* How are you hiding these days? How do you pose?
* Has it worked/ been effective?
God comes to all of us as he came to Adam-calling to us, asking us to come out of hiding, to face our fears, to walk with him into our true strength. It's in the intentional movement away from hiding and into honesty that we discover our true selves. But to move away from the safety of our effective hiding feels about the same as jumping off a cliff: counterintuitive, unnatural, wrong!
* What is the cliff God would have you "jump off" as a man? (If your reaction to jumping off this cliff is "Oh, my God, help me," it's a real cliff. Anything else is posing.)
* What's the first step you will take to come out of hiding and reveal your true self to the others you're "doing life" with?
It's scary, but we have to go there. Only when we leave the poser behind will we begin to live as men, and in doing so find real strength, adventure, and beauty. Ask God to give you the courage to take those first steps today, even within the next hour.
Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my fearful thoughts. Reveal to me the ways I pose and hide, and O God, lead me in the everlasting way, the way of truth and strength. May I live with passion and zeal; may my soul be captured by you for something big, noble, and worthy of your kingdom. Remove the quiet desperation of my soul. Chase away resignation, anger, and the addictions I run to. Free me to be a strong, passionate, and dangerous man ... as you created me to be. Draw me beyond the battles I know I can win; lure me to larger adventures ... speak with power those words I long to hear: "You have what it takes." I ask all this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Read through chapter 3 from Wild at Heart again, and answer these questions on your own during a lunch break, over a cup of coffee in the morning, or at the end of the day.
* * *
* This was your second meeting-how did the group conversation and interaction go today? Did you feel an internal (or external) pressure to pose or to hide during the discussion time?
* What did God say to you as you were meeting with the men?
As you enter into what may be your first really candid picture of yourself as a man, consider two things. First, this isn't the end of the story. We're only in the second session, and if there weren't hope for us posers, I wouldn't have written this book. Second, this isn't going to be helpful if you try to sound like a better guy than you really are; nor is it helpful to assume a false Christian humility because that's the "spiritual" thing to do. As David says in Psalm 51, God desires truth in our inmost being. Be honest-no more, no less.
* What is your definition of a "man"?
* How do you measure up to that definition? (Write a simple, candid description of yourself as a man. You don't need to show this to anyone.)
Excerpted from Wild at Heart PARTICIPANT'S GUIDE by John Eldredge Copyright © 2009 by John Eldredge. Excerpted by permission.
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