My (Ben’s) life has been greatly impacted by the teachings and resources of John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart Ministries; it has been a privilege to minister these truths to other men and see their lives restored to God’s purpose.
It is a calling of mine to see the hearts of men in Sweden ransomed, restored and fully alive through Christ. I am raising funds and prayer support to see the Ransomed Heart core teaching DVDs translated with Swedish subtitles and then to hold “Wild at Heart” and “Fathered by God” weekends for men throughout Sweden. Please give to this and pray for this if you can!
I reproduce here the frameworks for a man’s life that are declared by Ransomed Heart that I have found so helpful and healing in my journey with God. Please explore more fully at http://www.ransomedheart.com/ and join the adventure!
1. YOUR CORE PASSIONS
A battle to fight.
An adventure to live.
A beauty to rescue.
These are the core desires panting deep in the heart of every man. From the Amazon to Parliament, from the academy to the factory, these desires are universal, true for every man. And they are essential in order to live life as a man; they provide the power for his life. Misplaced, forgotten, or misdirected, they do not go away; they go underground and surface later in anger, addiction, compulsion. You pay a high price when you neglect these desires.
A Battle to Fight
Every boy knows he is made for battle, and he longs to be the mighty hero. Give him a cape, a sword, a light saber and he comes alive in a world of Jedi knights, superheroes, snowball fights, and “what can we blow up next?” But of course—man is made in the image of a Warrior God: “The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name” (Exodus 15:3). God himself is a warrior. And we are made to be like him. Thus every man needs a battle to fight. But in order to fight for his life, his marriage, his children, his dreams, his integrity, a man must first get his heart back as a warrior.
An Adventure to Live
Ask men about the greatest moments in their lives—moments they felt truly alive. They will always tell stories of adventure. That motorcycle trip to Burma, rafting the Colorado, a night on the open sea. That’s why the heart of a man slowly dies when chained to a desk, an assembly line, or a cell phone. And that’salso why every time God gets hold of a man in the biblical record, he takes him into high stakes adventure. Abraham, Moses, David; Peter, Matthew, Paul—all swept up into great adventures by the wild design of God. Christianity is not an invitation to be a really nice guy; it is an invitation into a Larger Story in which you play a decisive role.
A Beauty to Rescue
It’s hard to think of a classic men’s movie that doesn’t have a “rescue the beauty” scene—and the romantic “thank you” that follows! Nothing can get our attention like a beautiful woman. Again, God made us this way. Back in the beginning of our story, Eve was created from Adam’s side—and none of us have recovered from the surgery. Men are haunted by the Beauty. Where the confusion begins is when we turn to the woman not to offer our strength, but rather looking to her for our validation. Certain disaster follows. Learning to fight for the Beauty is not only one of man’s core passions, it is one of life’s greatest joys.
2. YOUR DEEPEST QUESTION
Why do you suppose that when a boy learns to ride his bike with no hands or do his first back flip on a trampoline or hit his first home run, he wants his dad there to see it? And all the crazy things young men do—cliff jumping into rivers, racing motorcycles, all the sports competition—what is fueling all that? Our search for validation. A man’s search for validation is the deepest search in his life. Even if he can’t quite put it into words, every man is haunted by the question, “Do I have what it takes?”
Every man feels that the world is asking him to be something he doubts very much he has it in him to be. That’s why a man’s greatest fear is exposure—to be found out as a poser, an imposter, and not really a man.
Our search for validation begins with our fathers; a boy is meant to learn the answer to his core question from his dad and from the key men in his life. And here is where tragedy strikes. “Do I have what it takes?” Too often, the response back is silence, scorn, or ridicule: “I don’t know…I doubt it…you’ll have to find out for yourself…probably not.” In the case of violent fathers, the question is answered in a devastating way: “No. You are a pussy, a failure, an @#%& idiot.” It gets worse from there.
And so the recovery of a man’s heart begins with coming to see the way in which his deepest question got answered and how that has shaped his life. More importantly, it comes with the healing of the wounds that brought those answers and finding a new source of love and validation in his true Father. Despite a man’s past and the failures of his own father to initiate him, God—as our Father—is fiercely committed to us, to the restoration and release of our masculine hearts. He wants to answer your Question.
3. BECOMING A WARRIOR
The firemen who ran up the stairs of the World Trade Center on 9/11 when everyone else was rushing down in panic—what made them do it? The young men who so bravely put themselves between the gunman and their fellow students during those school shootings—what enabled them to do it? The Warrior. It is hardwired into every man.
Remember as a boy, wanting to be Spider-Man or a Jedi Knight? Every man wants to be strong; every man wants to live a powerful life. Because man is made in the image of God, who is the Great Warrior. Like Father, like son. God gave you a warrior heart because you were born into a world at war. Surely you are aware of this—your life is opposed. Your love is opposed. Your hopes, your dreams, your friendships, your joy—all fiercely opposed.
How much hardship a man will endure, how long and tenaciously he will persevere, is determined by the warrior within him. A man may have a job he hates under an arrogant boss, but if he sees it as warrior training, he will endure. A man in a difficult marriage can persevere only if he finds the warrior inside. The heart of the warrior says, “I will put myself on the line for you. I will not let evil have its way. There are some things that cannot be endured. I’ve got to do something. There is freedom to be had.”
It’s time to quit asking, “Why is life so hard?” and take the hardness as the call to fight, to rise up, face it down, set your “face as flint,” as Jesus had to do to fulfill his life’s greatest mission (Isaiah 50:7). You are a warrior, and your destiny is to join the Great Warrior in his battle against evil.
And, by the way, Jesus was not the poster child for pacifism; he wasn’t the World’s Nicest Guy. Christianity does not ask men to become alter boys; it calls them up as warriors.
4. YOUR RESTORATION
What is it that Christianity is supposed to do to a person? What is the intended effect?
Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath; the religious leadership wanted to kill him for it. Christ then publicly rebuked them:
[Y]ou circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7:15-24)
Jesus did this on purpose; he waited until the Sabbath to heal, because he was trying to pierce the heart of the issue: what does God want from us? What does God want for us? His answer is clear: the healing of the whole man.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. (Romans 8:29, The Message)
Notice that it requires restoration. “The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored.” Thus, the healing of the whole man. That’s the purpose of Christianity. “Salvation” means much more than “heaven when you die.” It also includes your restoration as a human being—as a man.
What you believe about this will shape your approach to everything else. How do we cooperate with God in our restoration? What are the things we need to do in order to seek it, to receive it more deeply? There is a process, and the results are breathtaking.
Apart from that, Christianity is just…religion.
5. SEXUAL WHOLENESS
Sex is from God. It is one of his most delicious gifts to us. (This, by the way, ought to settle once and for all questions about whether or not he is good and wants us to be happy.) Sex is good. Your sexuality as a man is a great gift.
Now—we understand it doesn’t always feel that way. Our sexual desires can get us into a lot of trouble. Men have ruined kingdoms over this. But that doesn’t make sex bad. It only shows you how vital sexual wholeness is and how deep this runs in our being. Your sexuality is core to your nature as a man.
That’s why sexual brokenness is one of the deepest types of brokenness a person can experience. And we live in a sexually broken world. Addiction, compulsion, lust, abuse, gender confusion—most men struggle with sexual issues of some sort. That probably wasn’t news to you.
Now for the good news: God is committed to healing your sexuality. Sexual wholeness and trueness are available. Really! Jesus said he came to seek and save “what was lost” (Luke 19:10), including all that was lost in the blessings he intended through our sexuality.
It all depends on how you handle it. You simply cannot discipline yourself out of brokenness and bondage. There is another path, one that leads to freedom and life and sexual joy as God intended. We invite you to journey there with us.