• Ben Corley

The Company of Men

If you're reading this, chances are you were directed here by someone or something from my local church. If not, this material can help you and a company of chosen men in your circle grow as men, grown in fellowship, and draw closer to the wild, majestic, dangerous, and true God from whom we all have come. Welcome, brothers. Welcome to those who support the men of the church. I'm glad your here, because we've got work to do.

The world has, especially in the last 20 years, been radically turned upside down from the world that was. Postmodernism, nihilism, and other cultural schools of supposed enlightened thinking have called into question the very nature of life, the purpose of life, even the basic definitions of those who are alive (and yes, they've even challenged what it means to be alive, but that's eugenics for you). Questions being asked from the time of ancient Greece through to these supposed thinkers were intended to seek clarity and to help refine knowledge into wisdom for the purposes of questing after the Truth. Not a subjective "personal truth"(you hear this often as "your truth" and "my truth"), no The Truth. The whole point of knowledge and wisdom was to draw closer to what was common for all above all things, beyond all things, and despite all circumstances. As Christian men, we know that truth. We know his name. That name, above all names, is Jesus Christ.

We're going to be working through some very successful, highly engaging, and deeply immersive material written by John Eldridge. The book is called Wild at Heart. It's undergone 2 revisions over the years, the most recent one coming out March of 2021. John's material in the book, and in the supplemental material that we're going to be covering through discussion and some videos, all speak to the heart of man. It calls us to the fellowship of other men because "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). Masculinity in an authentic, biblical sense is what we're going to be questing after. What does that mean? Where do we find it? How do we know it? What happened to it? All of these are good questions and while the themes for the answers are going to be eerily similar when we get together, they are questions that elude men of this postmodern age. We'll get there, and if not, we'll at least know the trail that will lead us there.

It's important to set down a few things at the start, before we even meet for the first time. Firstly, this is a group setting for Christian men to work on growth together and individually as a Christian man. Since the previously mentioned schools of intellectual pursuit have sought to redefine even the very foundations of that identity, please use the two definitions below:

Genesis 1:26 - 27 tells us this: "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."(ESV) Created differently from one another because they complement one another. They are meant to be a mirror to one another as a reminder of what God intended when he created them. Adam to be strength, wisdom, and leadership. Eve as life bringer, healer, comforter, and to be the "helper"(and please don't think of this as a pejorative or derogatory in any way... in the original text is the root word used only for one other, and that's God). Now, down the family tree... so to speak... here we now are. Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve; men and women, male and female. Sons of Adam, this group is for you.

The next is the definition of "Christian". I'm going to say up front and without any reservation that the definition we find in Romans 10:9 is more than sufficient: "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Boom. Cut the check. End of discussion. Accept that He's Lord in your life and believe it in your heart? Welcome brother.

So, what are we going to be covering? Well, there's a lot of ground we need to cover over the weeks we will be together. To get where we need to go as a group, but more importantly to get where you need to go as a Christian man, there are going to be a few small investments that you'll need to make to really get the most out of this. The first is required, the second is highly suggested... here's why: The first time I encountered John's material, it was through my soul group. One of the men shared material from the first 3 chapters that knocked me off my chair. I've always been more of an audiobook guy rather than a physical paper or digital book guy so I bought the audio. I finished it in a day, but I wished that I'd had the material to go back, highlight, flag, and cite for easy reference. So, I bought a copy... and gave it away, which required I buy another copy. I've gone back to John's material often to sharpen up and reengage my perspective on the journey of and the role of a man in the church. It's an investment that I believe with all of my heart will serve you well as the years go by. We're going to be going over the material chapter by chapter, and revisiting material previously set down as we go. It's crucial to have a copy of that text in hand as we go through the series. The link to the book will be found at the end of this essay.

The next, while optional, could not be more useful in this quest that we're undertaking. The Field Guide is very useful and can help you as you grow to look back on where you've been. There's no better worldly grace, personal comfort, and affirmation of growth than that which comes from being able to look back in a journal or one of the Study Guides that John and his company create and to see where you were, and how far you've come since then. Conversely, it also helps to see that a problem mentioned in a throw away line of written journaling is still something you want to work on now... years later. I encourage you, with the same degree of seriousness that I apply to the book itself, to buy the field guide. The link will be below.

Lastly, I encourage you to come at this with the intention to challenge yourself and lean into the areas of discomfort and the areas where you instinctively want to shut out, shut down, and not engage. Each of us have scars, some of us still have wounds, and those are keeping us from being the man that God on High called us to be. Valiant, courageous, dangerous, capable, and good; God created the whole world for Adam and while he cast him our of Eden, he didn't change Adam one bit. He knew Adam had what it took to succeed when he said to conquer and subdue this wild world, and he knew that Eve was absolutely essential to that journey Adam had before him. That's us, guys. That's the "victorious stock" from which we stem. Adam, but also the one who created Adam. The original Wild one whose image we bear, "and let us fear The native mightiness and fate of him (Henry the 5th, Shakespeare)".

I'm excited you're coming along with us on this journey. A man can be better. Better men can have better lives. Better men can foster and lead better families. Better families can create better communities. Better communities can create a better world. But all of that starts with the man. I'll leave you with this; God bless you and keep you until we meet for the first time, and then buckle up... because it's going to be a wild ride.

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood seraphim, each having six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling out to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts; all the earth is full of His glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I said:

“Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips dwelling among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7And with it he touched my mouth and said:

“Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

“Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?”

And I said:

“Here am I. Send me!”

(Isaiah 6: 1-8 ESV)

Material for the group:

"Wild at Heart" by John Eldridge

"Wild at Heart Field Guide Revised Edition: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul" by John Eldridge

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