In late 2003 a group of men came together at my church. The premise was a men’s ‘bible study’. We used a book and video series by John Eldredge titled Wild at Heart. Several of us discovered an image of God in ourselves that perhaps we had stifled or lost from the wounding of our hearts. There are two premises presented (among others) that we embraced; God meets men in the wilderness (see Moses’ and Jesus’ lives) and men need intimate allies (a band of brothers).
In 2004, we began an annual tradition of going to our denomination’s campground south of Canton called Camp Gideon. The first year we had the strictest agenda in its history, that being that we told the men to ‘go for a walk’ on the 165 acres, alone, and listen for God’s voice, and too be prepared to get together that night and share their experience.
Now we just go and watch to see how Jesus shows up. He does it differently every year. I find Jesus is particularly fond of his men getting together as men.
This weekend marks the 6th anniversary of this outing. We call them ‘Advances’ (men don’t ‘retreat’) and I’m excited. I still go for walks alone, we eat great food we cook ourselves, and we are men together in each other’s presence. We have great expectation that Jesus will join us in a profound way but will accept whatever way He chooses to manifest Himself. If we come to mind this weekend, mention it to Jesus for us. He and we would appreciate it. We are a group of men seeking the heart and mind of Christ.
Here is an exerpt from Wild at Heart
A Nice Guy 03/11/2009
And then, alas, there is the church. Christianity, as it currently exists, has done some terrible things to men. When all is said and done, I think most men in the church believe that God put them on the earth to be a good boy. The problem with men, we are told, is that they don’t know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives, or raise their children. But, if they will try real hard they can reach the lofty summit of becoming . . . a nice guy. That’s what we hold up as models of Christian maturity: Really Nice Guys. We don’t smoke, drink, or swear; that’s what makes us men. Now let me ask my male readers: In all your boyhood dreams growing up, did you ever dream of becoming a Nice Guy? (Ladies, was the Prince of your dreams dashing . . . or merely nice?) Really now—do I overstate my case? Walk into most churches in America, have a look around, and ask yourself this question: What is a Christian man? Don’t listen to what is said, look at what you find there. There is no doubt about it. You’d have to admit a Christian man is . . . bored. At a recent church retreat I was talking with a guy in his fifties, listening really, about his own journey as a man. “I’ve pretty much tried for the last twenty years to be a good man as the church defines it.” Intrigued, I asked him to say what he thought that was. He paused for a long moment. “Dutiful,” he said. “And separated from his heart.” A perfect description, I thought. Sadly right on the mark. (Wild at Heart , 7)