Let No One Deceive You
Heart to Heart

Let No One Deceive You
by Jon and Candy Summers

 Other than the Bible, my reading is confined to history books, historical biographies, and theological books. Neither Candy nor I read books like the following to which we refer, nor would we take the time to refute their teachings, except for the fact that we have been told that Wild at Heart by John Eldredge is so popular that many churches are using it as a study book within their Bible study groups. Considering the troubling content of this book, we found this information quite alarming and therefore felt compelled to expose its false teachings.
 “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience…. And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them … But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” (Eph. 5:6,11,13). Satan is the father of lies, our enemy, who continually attempts to delude. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). In conclusion, not only is it our responsibility to protect ourselves from deception, but also to expose deception as well so that other brothers may not fall headlong into the way of corruption.

Where Is God in This?

 On separate occasions, two Christian fathers shared with me that they had just read a book that had literally transformed their lives and, thus, encouraged me to read it. However, from the onset, when I heard the title, Wild at Heart, and shared it with Candy, we were both dismayed. For wild means “roving; wandering; not tamed; as a wild boar; growing without culture; savage; uncivilized; turbulent; licentiousness; ungoverned; as wild passions; fickle; inordinate; loose; disorderly; done without plan or order.” Heart means “the seat of the affections and passions, as of love, joy, grief, enmity, courage, pleasure. ‘Scripture tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things. Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is evil continually. We read of an honest heart and good heart, and an evil heart of unbelief, a willing heart, a heavy heart, sorrow of heart, a hard heart, a proud heart, a pure heart. The heart faints in adversity, or under discouragement, that is courage fails; the heart is deceived, enlarged, reproved, lifted up, fixed, established, moved…’ The seat of the understanding; the seat of the will; hence, secret purposes, intentions or designs. Sometimes heart is used for the will, or determined purpose. ‘The heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil’ (Ecclesiastes 8); person; character; secret thoughts; recesses of the mind. Conscience, or sense of good or ill.”
 With these definitions in mind, let us proceed. As soon as we borrowed Wild at Heart from the library, we started devouring its pages, stopping frequently to discuss each point of concern. The first was the opening quote by Howard Macey, which reads: “The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.” This was followed by a quote from Cole Porter: “I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences, I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences; Don’t fence me in.”
 Well, I must tell you that already Candy and I were quoting scriptures such as Luke 9:23: “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” and asking each other, “Where is God in this?” Nowhere in scripture did we see God rejoice over an untamed spiritual life—quite the contrary, as a matter of fact—for throughout scripture God commands obedience, discipline, and subjecting our wills to His.

Reckless Abandonment/Sound Judgment

 In the first chapter, Eldredge then proceeds to tell us that Adam was created in the wilderness and that “ever since then boys have never been at home indoors…. The core of a man’s heart is undomesticated and that is good.” Then he relates the following story about a trip he and his sons took. “And so my boys and I stood on the bank of the Snake River in the spring of ‘98 feeling that ancient urge to shove off. Snowmelt was high that year, unusually high, and the river had overflowed its banks and was surging through trees on both sides. Out in the middle of the river … logs were floating down, large tangles of branches bigger than a car, and who knows what else. High and muddy and fast, the Snake was forbidding…. I have never floated the Snake in a canoe, nor any other river for that matter, but what the heck. We jumped in and headed off into the unknown…”
 My first thought was, “Why would any father jeopardize his sons’ lives for the thrill of adventure?” “What the heck” expressed nothing more than reckless abandonment of all wisdom. As a father myself, I greatly enjoy taking my sons hunting, floating, boating, fishing, horseback riding, four-wheeling, and hiking, but I will not place my sons’ bodies or their lives in danger. As a matter of fact, I am always cautioning my sons to be wise, not careless, of how they treat and use their bodies because their bodies were created by God to serve Him and therefore belong to Him. As fathers, our duty to protect our families and train them up in the admonition of the Lord compels our recognition of all circumstances so that when danger presents itself, we give heed to sound judgment and alter our course.
 “The naïve believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps. A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless” (Prov. 14:15,16). “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19,20). “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” (1 Cor. 3:16,17). “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

Mocking Good? Walk in the Way of Good Men

 Eldredge continues: “Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wildness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man.” Adventure with danger and wildness is a spiritual longing written into the soul of man by whom? Since the author admits that God created Adam, this statement can hold no meaning except as implying that God created a spiritual longing for danger and wildness in our hearts, which indeed is emphasized later in the book. This particular theory, which forms the basis for permission to follow our own hearts, greatly distressed my soul. As I continued to read on, this quite frankly incensed me.
 He goes on to state: “How can a man know he is one when his highest aim is minding his manners? 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?)”
 This mocking of being good is a cleverly deceptive ploy to reach into our baser natures to say, “Yeah, men will be men, won’t they?” But God is good, and so I desire goodness for my character and my sons’ as well. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble …” (Nah. 1:7). “So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous” (Prov. 2:20). Notice here that a wise man walks in the way of good men, not in the way of wild men, and not in the way of dangerous men.
 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master’” (Matt. 25:23). I certainly want to be called good by my Master; even Jesus calls Himself good. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). And the disciples, when selecting men to serve, said in Acts 6:3, “But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”
 God shows us that doing good is something to be pursued. “Who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (Rom. 2:6,7).

Bored? Ears That Hear Not

 Eldredge goes on: “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…. You’d have to admit a Christian man is … bored.”
 And why is that? Doesn’t God tell us to incline our ears to His teachings? Just look up the word “hear” in your concordance to see how many times God tells us to hear His Word. Therefore, I would have to say that the reason that any man be bored is due to his sinful nature to center his thoughts on himself, rather than on the things of the Lord, and that he needs to tune his ears towards the words of the Lord.
  “But they did not listen or incline their ears to turn from their wickedness, so as not to burn sacrifices to other gods” (Jer. 44:5). “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart … Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did more evil than their fathers” (Jer. 7:24,26). “Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel. And the people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the Lord our God and we will obey His voice’” (Josh. 24:23,24).
 “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their whole body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious lips far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:20-27).
 “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge … so that your trust may be in the Lord” (Prov. 22:17,19). “To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Prov. 1:2-5). “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
 However, based on scripture, it appears to me that if any man is bored while God’s Word is being taught, he is probably not a Christian. This truth has been confirmed in my own experience and in other Christians who are friends of ours, that from the beginning, after God laid hold of our hearts, our disinterest in God’s Word and His people changed into a voracious appetite for every Word that proceeded from His mouth. “The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand’” (John 10:24-29).
 “‘He who has ears, let him hear.’ And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn again, and I should heal them”’” (Matt. 13:9-15).

Live the Way My Heart Moves?

 Again Eldredge writes, “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 … ‘Dutiful … and separated from his heart.’ A perfect description … and thus the heart of man is driven into the … remote places, like a wounded animal looking for cover … Women … lament that they have no access to their man’s heart … the church wags its head and wonders why it can’t get more men to sign up for its programs. The answer is simply this. We have not invited a man to know and live from his deep heart … but God made the masculine heart, set it within every man, and thereby offers him an invitation. Come, and live out what I meant you to be…. Instead of asking what you think you ought to do to become a better man … I want to ask, ‘What makes you come alive? What stirs your heart?’… As the playwright Christopher Fry says, ‘Life is a hypocrite if I can’t live the way it moves me!’”
 Live the way my heart moves or the way God tells me to in His Word? If duties to His Word, to families, and to His Body drive this man like a wounded animal into remote places, then I would suspect that he is trying to change outwardly what God has not changed inwardly by putting on the cloak of religious obligations in place of the new creature God makes us. Aspirations for a divine life, without God’s divine presence, are worthless and short-lived, for obligations cease to have any meaning without divine command. And without God’s presence to empower holy living, all human endeavors are impotent. Duty, therefore, without the conviction of sin will drive man farther from God. But when God sets us free from the bondage of sin, we no longer look at duty as a weight on our shoulders but freely work that much more in gratitude to our heavenly Father for His outpouring of mercy upon our wicked souls. God says that we shall know them by their fruit. A man who hears the Word and speaks the Word without fruit is nothing more than a talker.

An Obsession with Movies

 I must say that throughout this book, the multitude of movies to which this author refers gave me a better insight into his heart and helped me to understand the influence they wielded on his thinking, consequently explaining why his thinking was so riddled with worldly ideas and why his reasoning has been swept away by modern philosophy. He started out working in the theatre, continues to view a massive amount of movies, and writes this book as if it were a script filled with all the elements the world feels are necessary for an action-packed movie—adventure, danger, and romance. Consider this comparison for instance. “Compare your experience watching the latest James Bond or Indiana Jones thriller with, say, going to Bible study. The guaranteed success of each new release makes it clear—adventure is written into the heart of a man.”
 The guaranteed success by whom? I dare say that I hope not by the Christian community, and yet he is writing this to men who are supposed to be godly men. James Bond and Indiana Jones? He later talks about these movies, asking the reader what these movies would really be if it weren’t for beautiful women by the sides of the heroes. Hey, I watched those movies when I was an infidel, and just my recollection of them fills my heart with shame. His implication that most Christian men would find this better than a study of our holy Father, further justifying this assumption by crediting the Lord for writing adventure in men’s hearts, disturbs me greatly. Again, let me state that I feel that this book was written like a script for an action-packed movie, which I credit to his obsession with movies.

Lust Is Not from the Father

 Eldredge goes on to tell that written in every man’s heart is the desire to rescue a beauty and describes how great he felt after he slipped his seventh grade sweetheart a quick kiss, which she returned with a longer one. He then uses his son’s attempt to impress a cute little blonde as an example. Here I am trying to train my sons to treat other young girls as they would their sister, to turn their eyes from lusting, to dwell on pure thoughts, and to avoid girls who are forward, and here Eldredge is filling fathers’ heads with the deception that these actions are a part of being a man. No wonder it is such an uphill battle with flirtatious boys and girls, even in the homeschooling community. Shouldn’t Christian fathers, instead, be exposing false doctrine and leading others into godly behavior?
 Lust means to “desire eagerly; to long to possess or enjoy.” The Bible says in 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world nor the things of this world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts” (Rom. 6:12). “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).
 “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Tim. 5:1,2).
 Licensing man’s uncircumcised passions only gives credence to lust and sets a pattern for future encounters with women. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a women with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27,28).
 The excuses this author gives reminds me of the homosexual community and what I wrote about them in the September/October 2004 newsletter: “Indeed, for some time now, the radical homosexual community has been implementing a very savvy marketing strategy to refocus our attention off their immoral behavior by painting themselves as victims, confidently absolving themselves on the basis that they were created the way they are, thereby living according to what is normal for them, cleverly making this, then, a civil issue rather than the moral issue that it is. Considering themselves aggrieved, they expostulate, by way of inculpating others, that they have been victimized by an uneducated society; therefore, by playing on the emotions of undiscerning minds, these wicked men have made unprecedented strides of intrusion into the minds and hearts of our nation’s people through educational propaganda.”
 In other words, whenever men are not reigned in by the fear of God, they rush headlong into every form of wickedness because it is the fear of God alone that restrains men from wickedness, and without that fear, monstrous licentiousness prevails. This is a clear picture of where our nation is headed if we do not take a strong stand against it.
 This author is not only appealing to unregenerated man’s desires but also is condoning the actions that follow. “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 17:15).

Rebellion Is Sin

 Eldredge continues: “Remember Nehemiah’s words to the few brave souls defending a wall-less Jerusalem? ‘Don’t be afraid … fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’ The battle itself is never enough, a man yearns for romance.” Then he goes on to tell us that his wife loves the scene in The Man from Snowy River “where Jessica, the beautiful young heroine, is rescued by Jim, her hero, and together they ride on horseback through the wilds of the Australian wilderness.”
 If you have never seen this movie, let me fill you in. The reason that Jessica needed to be rescued in the first place is because she disobeyed her father’s command to stay away from Jim, and in running away from home, she was thrown from her horse over the side of a cliff. And once rescued, she slept that night with Jim. Where is this author’s heart? The very realization that this headstrong, defiant, immoral young girl is his wife’s female hero should send chills up his spine. And as a “Christian” who loves his wife and whose duty it is to head and direct his household, shouldn’t he be rebuking his wife’s admiration of Jessica and exhorting her to set a pure example for her sons to follow? No Christian in his right mind would desire a wife like Jessica or even a daughter-in-law such as Jessica.
 All rebellion is sin against God. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:23). Sin is choosing to do what we desire, which seems to be the premise of this book. But the truth most essential for us to know is that God is Lord, and it is He who demands obedience to Him. What it comes down to, then, is who has control and lordship of our lives. The heart is wicked above all else and desires to be independent at all ages, but we should not give license to it at any age just because the world says that this is natural.
 And in the case of the relationship between the earthly father and his daughter, God says in Deuteronomy 27:16: “Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother.” “There is a generation of man who curses his father and does not bless his mother. There is a generation who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness. There is a generation—oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance. There is a generation of man whose teeth are like swords, and his jaw teeth like knives … The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it” (Prov. 30:11-14,17).
 “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:28-32).

Dangerous Men Make Dangerous Husbands

 Eldredge then asks his readers, “Which would you rather be said of you: ‘Harry? Sure I know him. He’s a real sweet guy.’ Or, ‘Yes, I know about Harry. He is a dangerous man … in a really good way.’ Ladies, how about you? Which man would you rather have as your mate? (Some women, hurt by masculinity gone bad, might argue for the ‘safe’ man … and then wonder why, years later, there is no passion in their marriage.) And as for your own femininity, which would you rather have said of you—that you are a ‘tireless worker,’ or that you are a ‘captivating woman’? I rest my case.”
 Let me tell you, in no uncertain terms, that a dangerous man does not make a good husband or a good father and much less a godly husband and a godly father. From my own personal experience, I, being the wild man I was before God transformed my life, made Candy cry much of the first year and a half of our married life. Besides, Candy and I have counseled with many women whose husbands are wild at heart who have broken not only their wives’ hearts, but also their children’s hearts, as well. And in reference to Eldredge’s question to the ladies as to what they would rather have—a sweet guy or a dangerous guy—my counseling experience tells me that any wise woman would answer that question emphatically with “sweet and safe,” hands down.
 Hmm? Let’s see, dangerous—“perilous; hazardous; exposing to loss; unsafe; full of risk”? Or safe—“free from danger of any kind; free from hurt, injury or danger; not exposing to danger; placed beyond the power of doing harm.” Which would you prefer for your daughter? Are we safe with our Bridegroom—Jesus? God constantly talks about how He protects His children by taking them under His wings. Or what about Jesus as the Shepherd who protects us from our enemies?
 And our chief aim in life should be as in Colossians 1:9-12: “Be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” I think that a woman should rather be called a tireless worker for God’s kingdom so that when she enters into heaven, God can say as He did in Matthew 25:23: “Well done, my good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
 Then Eldredge asks us, “What if? What if those deep desires in our hearts are telling us the truth, revealing to us the life we were meant to live?” Truth? The truth is in Proverbs 3:5-7: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

Listen My Sons – The Harlot Leads to Sheol

 Eldredge goes on. “A woman must know she is beautiful; she must know she is worth fighting for.” Hey, I think that my wife is beautiful, but I do not fight for her because she is beautiful to me, but because she is precious to me. It is her inward beauty that causes me to thank God daily for her. Let us look to see what God thinks of beauty. In Proverbs 31:30, He says that “charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
 Is it love for our wives or lust for their beauty that makes us fight for them? In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, God says, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
 Love never fails, but lust does because beauty is fading. And since God commands husbands to love their wives, husbands must work toward loving their wives with the love defined in First Corinthians and the love exemplified in Jesus’ life towards His bride, the church. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).
 Eldredge goes on to say later in the book: “So what does Ruth do? She seduces him [Boaz] ... Ruth takes a bubble bath and puts on a knockout dress, then she waits for the right moment … approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down…. There is no possible reading of this passage that is ‘safe’ or nice. This is seduction pure and simple—and God holds it up for all women…. He not only gives Ruth her own book in the Bible but also names her in the genealogy of Jesus … I’m telling you that the church has really crippled women when it tells them that their beauty is vain and they are at their feminine best when they are ‘serving others.’ A woman is at her best when she is being a woman…. She can arouse, inspire, energize … seduce him. Ask your man what he’d prefer.”
 First of all, let me just say that the church tells women that beauty is vain and that they are at their best when they are serving because that is what God says in His Word as we have just seen in the preceding scriptures. Also, let me add the following scripture: “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness” (1 Tim. 2:9,10). Secondly, let me tell you that if there is one thing I know for certain, God does not contradict Himself. And throughout His Word, God not only continuously warns men not to go down the path of an adulterer, which leads to Sheol, but He warns them to flee youthful lusts (look at the verses I gave as examples earlier) and not even to look upon another woman with lust, for this is adultery. Therefore, I can say with assurance that there was absolutely no impropriety in Ruth because God would not condone what He elsewhere condemns.
 I warn my sons against the seductions of harlots and adulteresses. We often read Proverbs 7, paying particular attention to these verses: “With her many persuasions she entices him … Suddenly he follows her as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, until an arrow pierces through his liver; as a bird hastens to the snare, so he does not know that it will cost him his life. Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth. Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.”
 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:15-20).
 Just look up the words harlot, harlots, harlotry … to find all the verses God writes against harlots. Indeed He continues to condemn His people and destroy them for playing the harlot with other gods. God does not bless lust, harlots, adulterers, or any who seduce another person—taking them captive by seduction. “And upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth.’ And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (Rev. 17:5,6).
 “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.’ And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, “I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.” For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong…. Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her’” (Rev. 18:1-8,20).
 Men, we are not to walk as we did before we became Christians in the futility of our minds, but God commands us to lay aside the old self, which is corrupted in accordance with lusts, and to put on the new self in the likeness of God in righteousness and holiness. “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:17-24).

Leading Towards the Path to Destruction

 Again, Eldredge continues: “For if you are going to know who you are as a man, if you are going to find a life worth living, if you are going to love a woman deeply and not pass on your confusion to your children, you simply must get your heart back. You must head up into the high country of the soul, into wild and uncharted regions and track down the elusive prey.”
 This author is going where I came from—before I knew Christ! This desire and search for our hearts certainly pleases the unregenerated heart, but it can operate only to obscure our duty and responsibility to search scriptures and understand the will of God for our lives, which is to obey Him by casting away our desires and taking up the cross to follow Him—sacrificing our desires to take care of our families, our church Body, and civil responsibilities, without which, it ceases to be anything other than rebellion and divination towards God. Candy and I immediately thought of David who said in Psalm 119:11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23,24).

The Earth Suffers from Its Corruption

 For the casual Bible reader, the following could appear to be true: “If you have any doubts as to whether or not God loves wildness, spend a night in the woods … alone…. Take a walk out in a thunderstorm. Get a bull moose mad at you. Whose idea was this, anyway? The Great Barrier Reef with its great white sharks, the jungles of India with their tigers, the deserts of the Southwest with all those rattlesnakes—would you describe them as ‘nice’ places? Most of the earth is not safe, but it’s good. That struck me a little too late when hiking in to find the upper Kenai River in Alaska. My buddy Craig and I were after the salmon and giant rainbow trout that live in those icy waters. We were warned about bears, but didn’t really take it seriously until we were deep into the woods. Grizzly sign was everywhere…. We’re dead, I thought. What are we doing out here? It then occurred to me that after God made all this, he pronounced it good, for heaven’s sake. It’s his way of letting us know he rather prefers adventure, danger, risk, the element of surprise. This whole creation is unapologetically wild.”
 Really? If God loved it in its present condition, why would He be coming back to redeem it? The earth certainly was good until Adam and Eve sinned, but then the earth became corrupted and was cursed by God in Genesis 3. And just as man waits to be redeemed and set free from his corruption, so does this wild earth. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:20-23).
 Remember that it did not rain until the time of the Flood, at which time God made it rain as punishment for man’s sin. Furthermore, animals did not eat meat and did not become wild until sin corrupted them. But the earth will return to its former glory when God returns to redeem it. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:19-21).
 And in Isaiah 11:1-9: “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
 So why won’t the earth be wild any longer? Because it will no longer be corrupted, for it will be redeemed from its corruption in subjection to Christ. Somehow I do not think that men who seek for wild adventure will be at home here then.

God, the Almighty Sovereign

 But for all of Eldredge’s wild creations of fancies that appeal to the uncircumcised heart, none agitates, incenses, and distresses me more than the following thoughts: “But what about his own life? We know he has a battle to fight—but does God have an adventure to live? I mean, he already knows everything that’s going to happen, right? How could there be any risk to his life; hasn’t he got everything under absolute control? In an attempt to secure the sovereignty of God, theologians have overstated their case and left us with a chess-player god playing both sides of the board, making all his moves and all ours too. But clearly, this is not so, God is a person who takes immense risks. No doubt the biggest risk of all was when he gave angels and men free will, including the freedom to reject him—not just once, but every single day…. God seems to fly in the face of all caution…. ‘Then the Lord intervened’ is perhaps the single most common phrase about him in scripture…. Look at the stories he writes. There is the one where the children of Israel are pinned against the Red Sea, no way out, with Pharaoh and his army barreling down on them in murderous fury. Then God shows up. There’s Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who get rescued only after they’re thrown into the fiery furnace. Then God shows up. He lets the mob kill Jesus, bury him … then he shows up…. It’s not the nature of God to limit his risks and cover his bases. Far from it. Most of the time, he actually lets the odds stack up against him.”
 Really? He neglected to mention what God has to say about Himself. “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all…. and Thou reignest over all” (1 Chron. 29:11,12). “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19).
 “Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Is. 46:8-11).
 “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). “For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations” (Ps. 22:28). “God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne” (Ps. 47:8). “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1). “Have you not heard? Long ago I did it; from ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps” (2 Kings 19:25). “And he said, ‘O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You” (2 Chron. 20:6).
 It is an impertinent assumption to think that God is subject to our will. “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust…. All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? … It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless…. Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble. ‘To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing” (Is. 40:15-26).
 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4). “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Ps. 37:23). “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33).
 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16). “For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled” (Rev. 17:17).
 “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He set the world on them” (1 Sam. 2:6-8). “Who has aroused one from the east whom He calls in righteousness to His feet? He delivers up nations before him and subdues kings. He makes them like dust with his sword, as the wind-driven chaff with his bow. He pursues them, passing on in safety, by a way he had not been traversing with his feet. Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He’” (Is. 41:2-4).
 And when it came to letting the mob kill Jesus, let us understand that it was by His determinate counsel that it was done. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:22,23). “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Luke 22:22). “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27,28).

Impertinent Attempt to Humanize God

 Eldredge continues: “God’s relationship with us and with our world is just that, a relationship. As with every relationship, there’s a certain amount of unpredictability, and the very-present likelihood that you’ll get hurt…. But God does give it [his heart], again and again … until he is literally bleeding from it all…. There is definitely something wild in the heart of God.”
 What really distressed my soul about this analogy is that it reduces our Almighty God to a mere god who looks more like man than who He is—the Most High. I cannot overemphasize the gravity of this sin. This is too true of all of us at some time in our lives, when we look at God as if looking into a mirror and receiving, instead, a reflection of ourselves! Therefore, each of us must be very careful not to create a god that fits our way of thinking and then call him the one true God. As Luther told Erasmus, “Your thoughts of God are too human.” And as God told us in Psalm 50:21: “… Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.”
 Charles Spurgeon said, “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust.”

God Is Immutable

 Now let’s return to the definition of wild for a moment. Wild means “roving; wandering; not tamed; as a wild boar; growing without culture; savage; uncivilized; turbulent; licentiousness; ungoverned; as wild passions; fickle; inordinate; loose; disorderly; done without plan or order.”
  The one thing about God that is most reassuring to man is that God is immutable—the very characteristic which separates us from our Most High God. Man is turbulent. Man is licentious. Man is ungoverned. Man is fickle. Man is inordinate. Not so with God. God is not wild! He is not turbulent, licentious, ungoverned, fickle, or inordinate. But in a desperate attempt to make God more palatable, man has always defined God according to his sinful bent, whereby justifying his sinful nature and licensing his evil deeds. One need look no further than His Word, which He has used to define Himself, to know the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Job, Isaiah, Daniel, and Paul.
  For His true identity is revealed in the following scriptures. “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14). “For I, the Lord, do not change …” (Mal. 3:6). “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). “But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? And what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13).
 “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord … He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works. The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength” (Ps. 33:8-17).
 “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself … In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:13,17,18).

May Our Sons Be Poor in Spirit

 Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). Arthur Pink writes: “What is poverty of spirit? It is the opposite of the haughty, self-assertive, and self-sufficient disposition that the world so much admires and praises. It is the very reverse of that independent and defiant attitude that refuses to bow to God, that determines to brave things out, and that says with Pharaoh, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?’ To be poor in spirit is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, and have need of all things. Poverty of spirit is evident in a person when he is brought into the dust before God to acknowledge his utter helplessness. It is the first experiential evidence of a Divine work of grace within the soul, and corresponds to the initial awakening of the prodigal in the far country when he ‘began’ to be in want.”
 Ah, that our sons may come face to face with God and say, like Job, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5,6). And like Daniel: “His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult. Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision … yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground…. Then he said to me, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.’ … then I opened my mouth and spoke … ‘For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in me’” (Dan. 10:6-9,12,16,17).
 Or may they be like John Winthrop who stated: “I desire to make it one of my chief petitions to have that grace to be poor in spirit. I will ever walk humbly before my God, and meekly, mildly, and gently towards all men…. I do resolve first to give myself—my life, my wits, my health, my wealth—to the service of my God and Saviour who, by giving Himself for me and to me, deserves whatsoever I am or can be, to be at His commandment and for His glory.”
 Or ultimately like Jesus in Philippians 2:8: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again” (John 10:17). “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17).
 May our sons not be like men who follow their hearts—like those in Mark 7:21,22: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness”—but like men who watch diligently over their hearts as in Proverbs 4:23: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1,2).
 May our sons not be selfish in following their dreams, but may they willingly submit to God’s purpose and plan for their lives. “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:13-17).

The Lord Gives Wisdom from His Mouth

 The following statement from the author of Wild at Heart truly shows where he and his family are: “God is intimately personal with us, and he speaks in ways that are peculiar to our own quirky hearts—not just through the Bible…. To Stasi (his wife) he speaks through movies [you know, like through Jessica, the young rebellious girl whom she loves]. To Craig (his son) he speaks through rock and roll … God’s word to me (the author) comes in many ways—through sunsets and friends and films and music and wilderness and books.”
 God, however, tells us that wisdom comes from His mouth through His inspired Word and that we should search for knowledge there and treasure His commandments within our hearts. “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding … If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things; from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness … to deliver you from the strange woman, from the adulteress who flatters with her words … so you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous” (Prov. 2).
 “Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts” (Prov. 8:33,34). “The wise of heart will receive commands …” (Prov. 10:8). “Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge” (Prov. 23:12). “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them” (Hos. 14:9).

To Follow Christ – Deny Self

 Eldredge goes on to say, “Where would we be if Jesus was not fierce and wild and romantic to the core?” He then continues later: “A man’s life becomes an adventure, the whole thing takes on a transcendent purpose when he releases control [even though in Galatians 5:23, God says that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit] in exchange for the recovery of the dreams in his heart…. We pay attention to our desire … To recover his heart’s desire a man needs to get away from the … distraction of his daily life for time with his own soul. He needs to head into the wilderness.”
 Men, we need to head into the Bible, pure and simple! What are your dreams? Mine certainly were not to be a homeschool leader for the last 18½ years, or to have the financial responsibility of that ministry, or to live where I have for the last 30 years, or to be a pastor. Candy and I wanted a large family farm where we could raise our children, our animals, and our own food. Candy wanted a huge, beautiful home, and I wanted a workshop. Two years ago, just one week before we were to sign the papers to buy the nursery of our dreams in a farming town 100 miles from here, God impressed His will upon our dreams by saying no. Instead, He called me to stay here and lead a church for homeschooling families.
 Do you think Abraham’s dream was to leave his home, country, family, and friends to wander around in hostile territory all his life, or was Moses’s dream to leave the palace where people waited on him hand and foot for the desert in order to lead over a million grumbling, rebellious people? I wonder if Samuel dreamed of leaving his home and family to serve in the temple? I wonder if Joseph dreamed of being sold into slavery? I wonder if Washington dreamed of leaving his beautiful and peaceful home and landholdings of thousands of acres to fight in the Revolutionary War and then serve as President? What did these men know that this author does not? It is the truth which God reveals to His children in Luke 9:23: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
 And although Eldredge goes on later to say, “The only way to live in this adventure—with all its danger and unpredictability and immensely high stakes—is in an ongoing, intimate relationship with God,” how can he reconcile this statement with everything he has written prior to this? He uses scriptures and does say that he is “not suggesting that the Christian life is chaotic or that a real man is flagrantly irresponsible,” yet no signs of direction toward that end were apparent to me earlier in his text. Another foundation was raised in the beginning of his book that I fear will take root in most men’s minds who read it, making them feel very discontented with their present situation and inspiring them, no, compelling them, to feel that they must search for adventure and danger if they are to live a life worth living.
 Eldredge’s thoughts remind me of John Bunyan’s characters in Pilgrim’s Progress named Self-righteous Ignorance, who has no understanding of the conviction of sin or of salvation by faith, and Mr. Worldly Wiseman, who was led astray by worldly wisdom. This is evident in the following dialogues between him and Christian.
 Worldly asks, “Hast thou a wife and children?”
 “Yes,” Christian replies, “but I am so laden with this burden, that I cannot take that pleasure in them as formerly; me thinks I am as if I had none.”
 Worldly: “I would advise thee, then, that thou with all speed get thyself rid of thy burden; for thou wilt never be settled in thy mind till then; nor canst thou enjoy the benefits of the blessing which God hath bestowed upon thee till then.”
 Christian: “That is that which I seek for, even to be rid of this heavy burden; but get if off myself, I cannot; nor is there any man in our country that can take it off my shoulders; therefore am I going this way, as I told you, that I may be rid of my burden.”
 Worldly: “Who bid thee go this way to be rid of thy burden?”
 Christian: “A man that appeared to me to be a very great and honorable person; his name, as I remember is Evangelist.”
 Worldly: “I beshrew him for his counsel! There is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in the world than is that unto which he hath directed thee; and that thou shalt find, if thou will be ruled by his counsel. Thou hast met with something, as I perceive, already: for I see the dirt of the Slough of Despond is upon thee; but that slough is the beginning of the sorrows that do attend those that go on in that way. Hear me; I am older than thou; thou art like to meet with on the way which thou goest; wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and, in a word, death, and what not! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies. And why should a man so carelessly cast away himself by giving heed to a stranger?”
 Bunyan states: “When Christians unto carnal men give ear, Out of their way they go, and pay for’t dear; For Master Worldly Wiseman can but show, a saint the way to bondage and to woe.”
 Christian then meets Evangelist again who says to him, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven…. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. He also did thus apply them: Thou are the man that art running into this misery; thou hast begun to reject the counsel of the Most High; and to draw back thy foot from the way of peace, even almost to the hazarding of thy perdition…. Be not faithless, but believing … give more earnest heed to the things that I shall tell thee of. I will now show thee who it was also to whom he sent thee. The man that met thee is one Worldly Wiseman, and rightly is he so called; partly, because he savoreth only of the doctrine of this world, (therefore he always goes to the town of Morality to church); and partly because he loveth that doctrine best, because it saveth him from the Cross. And because he is of this carnal temper, therefore he seeketh to prevent my ways, though right. Now there are three things in this man’s counsel that thou must utterly abhor. 1. His turning thee out of the way. 2. His laboring to render the cross odious to thee; and 3. His setting thy feet in that way that leadeth into the administration of death.
 “First thou must abhor his turning thee out of the way; and thine own consenting thereto; because this is to reject the counsel of God for the sake of the counsel of a Worldly Wiseman. The Lord says, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate,’ the gate to which I send thee; for ‘strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ For this little wicket-gate, and from the way thereto, hath this wicked man turned thee, to the bringing of thee almost to destruction; hate, therefore, his turning thee out of the way, and abhor thyself for harkening to him.
 “Secondly, thou must abhor his laboring to render the cross odious unto thee; for thou art to prefer it ‘before the treasures in Egypt.’ Besides, the King of glory hath told thee, that he that ‘will save his life shall lose it.’ And, ‘He that cometh after me, and hateth not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.’ I say, therefore, for man to labor to persuade thee, that that shall be thy death, without which, the truth hath said, thou canst not have eternal life; this doctrine thou must abhor.
 “Thirdly, thou must hate his setting of thy feet in the way that leadeth to the ministration of death. And for this thou must consider to whom he sent thee, and also how unable that person was to deliver thee from thy burden.”

Cast Away Speculations and Imaginations

 Many unholy foundations are built upon man’s speculations and imaginations. The fact of the matter is that whatever perception of God we possess, whether it be one of our own making or that which is described in scripture, subsequently governs our thoughts and actions. And there is no question that once God seizes us, whereby we then possess recognition of the true Christ, all our false sentiments of Him are cast away, making us abhor sin and selfishness like nothing else.
 Quite frankly, the licensing of being wild at heart brings to mind these verses in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”

Let No One Deceive You

 As I said earlier, it became evident to me that Eldredge’s false sense of reality stems from his inordinate appetite for secular movies, and this, coupled with the false teaching that he has obviously received and without a sound foundation of biblical knowledge, has distorted his thinking about God. This, then, serves as a serious warning to men, who are in fact greatly influenced by what we see, especially by the visual power of the cinema with all its wild scenery, danger, battles, heroic victories, beautiful men and women, and romance—that we resist the temptation to sit back and watch an action-packed thriller, but, instead, fill our minds with God’s Word. For whatever we place before our eyes becomes indelibly etched upon our minds. So with this understanding, let us diligently watch over the gates to our souls, and let nothing but His truth enter therein, that no one deceive us.
 “Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand” (Prov. 10:14). “The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds upon folly” (Prov. 15:14). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). “The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not so” (Prov. 15:7).
 In direct opposition to God, who commands us to subject our desires to the discipline of self-sacrificial living, Eldredge, like many preachers of our day, cleverly weaves his own thoughts with half-truths to justify man’s carnal nature so as to suit his desires to be ungoverned or “wild at heart.” And, consequently, our country is reaping the results of this kind of teaching, which for many years has poured forth from pulpits and pervaded the minds of men in America.
 “Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also the fish of the sea disappear. Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof; for your people are like those who contend with the priest. So you will stumble by day, and the prophet also will stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hos. 4:1-6). “Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst” (Is. 5:13).
 Our hope lies in the truth that our God is merciful and will forgive our iniquities if we return to Him, repent, and covenant with Him once again to walk by His Spirit and not by our flesh. It is imperative that we as fathers guard the gates to our families’ souls, both their eyes and ears, and that we lead them to the green valley of sound teaching from shepherds after God’s own heart who will feed them on knowledge and understanding. More importantly, we need to faithfully fulfill our duty as priests of our own homes to feed them on God’s Word daily so that no one deceives them.
 “Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God and have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the Lord. ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the Lord; ‘For I am a master to you, and I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.’ Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:12-15).
 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).