John Eldredge; Waking the Dead

Well, good afternoon everybody. This is Dick Staub thanking you for joining me. You know, our next guest is the best-selling author of Wild at Heart, The Sacred Romance, and a brand new book, Waking from the Dead, which is subtitled, The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive. Man, that’s full of hope right there. He’s also founder of Ransomed Heart Ministries, which is described as a hybrid, part monastery, part military outpost, part Red Cross ¢€œ a Red Cross unit for the soul ¢€œ part lemonade stand (a faƒ§ade covering a nuclear missile silo.) Well, there’s a portentious set of descriptors of an organization.

Q. We welcome to the show John Eldredge. John, thanks for joining us this afternoon.
A. Yeah. Good to be with you, Dick.

Q. So when I read that Ransomed Heart Ministries, my heart quickens and I feel excited because I feel like there’s this kind of kindred soul, this-this quasi-lunatic for Jesus out there somewhere. And I’m asking myself, who is this guy? And I’d kind of like to start ¢€œ before we get into Waking from the Dead, to-to get a clear sense ¢€œ because a lot of us have read your stuff. I mean, how do you summarize your vision for your life? And what in your background shaped you in that direction?
A. Do we have an hour?

Q. I mean, give us the thumbnail sketch.
A. Yeah, yeah. Thumbnail sketch. Not raised in a Christian home.

Q. Yeah.
A. Went through every option I could find, you know, Eastern Mysticism, Lao-Tzu, the whole deal, New Age. And then in large part thanks to Francis Schaeffer ¢€œ

Q. Really.
A. ¢€œ one of the best philosophers of the 20th century, came to Christ.

Q. Now, when did that happen and how?
A. Nineteen years old, and it was a pretty total conversion. I mean, I wasn’t looking for a religion. I’d never been to church. I was looking for a worldview.

Q. Okay. So at the age of 19 you’ve never been to church.
A. Yep.

Q. Looking for a worldview. And-and unlike most 19-year-olds you read Francis Schaeffer? Because I mean, Francis Schaeffer is great, but he’s not the kind of casual reading that most 19-year-olds are going to kind of turn to.
A. No, no, no. But he was talking. I mean, he knew how to talk to the drug culture.

Q. Yes.
A. I had a bunch of friends that were doing acid, and all that.

Q. And where were you at the time?
A. This was LA.

Q. Okay.
A. Yeah, southern California. And kicked out of high school, kind of the whole deal. And honestly, Dick, a burning bush kind of an experience. I know it sounds, I don’t know, super spiritual, but God showed up. I mean, the Living God that walks into my life and says, Look, deal with me. You know, I’m real, I care. Your life is a royal mess and you know it.

Q. Now, this happened through reading Schaeffer or was there some experience? Were there some group of people that were trained to¢â‚¬¦
A. Totally alone.

Q. Really.
A. Totally alone. And honestly, here’s what I was so overwhelmed by. I-I realized that I hated my life, the kind of person I was. All my relationships were manipulative, you know, everything was just frankly incredibly self-centered.

Q. Yeah.
A. And what I realized was I don’t know how to love. It’s really¢â‚¬¦ It’s amazing. It’s what Doug Coupland says at the end of his book, Life After God.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, he says, I don’t know how to love and I need help. And it was out of¢â‚¬¦ And I just prayed this prayer, I don’t even know where it came from.

Q. What were you reading at the time? Do you remember?
A. Here’s the wild thing. I was reading a book, this New Age book called Jesus and Kasumi. I’m fearless. They were trying to put Jesus on the level of all these other “ascended masters.”

Q. Very cool, very cool.
A. Well, you know what? It’s amazing because something in me said, No, that’s not true. Jesus is different.

Q. Really.
A. I don’t know that I can tell you why ¢€œ

Q. Okay.
A. ¢€œ but I just know that he is not like these other guys.

Q. Okay. So where do you go next when you’re a guy that feels like God has encountered you but you really are not connected to any of the ¢€œ probably really good that you aren’t ¢€œ but not connected to the religious subculture of the time. What do you do?
A. Yeah. That summarizes the rest of the story in this sense. Paul was the consummate Jew.

Q. Yeah.
A. But God sent him to the Gentiles.

Q. Yeah.
A. I feel like I’m the consummate Pagan and God sent me to the church, of all places. I mean, I’m writing and speaking to ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ the church trying to restore to them what I think is real Christianity.

Q. Okay. But so¢â‚¬¦ But when Paul had his conversion experience he went off for ten years in the wilderness, or off in the desert, is all we know. He went somewhere ¢€œ
A. Yes.

Q. ¢€œ and got this kind of preparation. What were the elements¢â‚¬¦ What were the building blocks of your preparation to speak to the church?
A. Yeah. More Schaeffer, deep into C.S. Lewis.

Q. Yeah.
A. People just started giving me books.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I started devouring them.

Q. Yeah.
A. I mean, Lewis was huge for me. Chesterton, George MacDonald, you know. I’m now realizing they’re all sort of from the UK.

Q. Yeah.
A. And then going back into the desert fathers and some of the early church fathers.

Q. Yeah.
A. Tons of reading. And then some great relationships. I stumbled, literally stumbled, into a Bible study one night still, you know, trying to get off drugs. And the guy leading the Bible study is a former hippie, former acidhead. He reads me like a ten-cent novel, you know? And he became my best friend.

Q. Okay. And what was his name?
A. His name is Craig McConnell. And now we work together here.

Q. Excellent. So what is your kind of professional/academic trajectory from that point on?
A. Yeah, yeah. Cal Poly Pomona, undergraduate degree in theater. Was in theater in LA for a number years. Ran a theater company. And then wanted to get more into the lives of people directly, and so got a Master’s degree in counseling and went into a counseling practice here in Colorado Springs.

Q. Okay. Okay. So then¢â‚¬¦ Now, did you end up at Focus at one point doing something there?
A. Yeah.

Q. Okay. What were you doing there?
A. Yeah, cultural studies. It was the whole Schaeffer thing, right, that if Christianity is true it ought to effect all of culture.

Q. Okay.
A. So at Focus I was doing, you know, debates and media and that kind of thing, trying to present¢â‚¬¦

Q. Okay. So then how was Ransomed Heart Ministries born? I mean, obviously it’s born out of a lifetime of experience and pain and-and-and great lessons and learning through friendships, relationships, academics, everything else, but ultimately there comes a place where you feel like I-I’ve got to do something that pulls it all together in my life.
A. Yep.

Q. And that’s Ransomed Heart Ministries. How does that happen in your life?
A. Exactly, yeah. Well Dick, the early Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit “the wild goose.”

Q. Yeah.
A. And the reason why is they knew that you cannot tame him. But if you follow his sort of haunting cry or call, he’ll take you on an adventure.

Q. Yeah.
A. Well, that’s what it was. I just sensed that I have a mission, I have a call to speak, to write, to do sort of deep-heart surgery in people’s lives.

Q. Yeah.
A. That-that’s what I do.

Q. So you get that sense of vision, and you’re married, and you got kids.
A. Three kids, a mortgage.

Q. Three kids, a mortgage, a wife. Your wife’s name is Stacy, isn’t it?
A. Yep.

Q. And they’re all really excited about this.
A. Right.

Q. How do you¢â‚¬¦ What’s involved in stepping out in faith to do this?
A. Literally, literally quitting my job.

Q. And talking a lot about the wild goose.
A. Yep.

Q. And them all saying, Well, the final phrase is “the wild goose chase.”
A. Well see, now we have that derogatory phrase, which shows you how much we in Western culture, we hate mystery ¢€œ

Q. Yes.
A. ¢€œ and we want a plan.

Q. We don’t like ambiguity.
A. We don’t.

Q. Yeah.
A. We want this thing buttoned down and nailed.

Q. Okay.
A. And I’m telling you, you don’t get that.

Q. Okay. So you just quit your job.
A. Quit my job.

Q. You don’t have like a bunch of big folks bankrolling you?
A. Nobody.

Q. Okay. Nobody’s bankrolling you.
A. No-body.

Q. Okay. So now you wake up in your morning in corporate headquarters, which is probably a bedroom or an extra room in the house¢â‚¬¦
A. The basement.

Q. The basement. And you’ve got a computer, and a vision, and a word processor. Is that basically where you start?
A. Exactly.

Okay. Well, we’re going to pick up there when we come back with my¢â‚¬¦ You see, I told you I could sense the lunatic fringe in all that I’m finding out about this thing before I even talked to John Eldredge. And you know that I use that phrase as a term of endearment and comradery. And so this is great. We’re going to be back with some more of John Eldredge. He’s written Wild at Heart, The Sacred Romance, Waking from the Dead. We’re going to find out more about those books, especially Waking from the Dead, right after this.


Well, this is Dick Staub back with you, with new-found friend, John Eldredge. His most recent book is Waking from the Dead. We’re going to get to that in just a minute. Many of you have already read Wild at Heart, The Sacred Romance. I just see those books everywhere. In fact, I was just talking to a friend of mine in Chicago, talking about a group of men that were reading Wild at Heart. And the way he described the impact of it was simply by naming some of my dear friends, extraordinarily successful people, poised, make a lot of money, important jobs, downtown Chicago, described them sitting in a circle weeping. And talking about the wound in their life. And you know, that’s, for men that’s a big deal. And it’s a commendation of sorts of some of the stuff that John Eldredge is getting at.

Q. Now-now meanwhile John, you’re there at your word processor and you have a sense of calling. You then write Wild at Heart?
A. Yep. That great, great conversation. My publisher calls. We had written Sacred Romance, it had done okay. Right? He calls and says what else do you want to do? And I said¢â‚¬¦

Q. So you wrote Sacred Romance when you were at Focus.
A. Yeah.

Q. So you kind of were on somebody else’s dime.
A. No, we did it in the evenings and weekends.

Q. But I mean, it wasn’t the high-risk venture because you had an income.
A. No, no, we were working. We had a bustling practice¢â‚¬¦

Q. And Seeley Yates is involved in here somewhere right?
A. Yeah, he is.

Q. Okay.
A. Okay. I say, I got a book. I’ve got something on my heart to say to men. And I lay out the whole thing of Wild Heart, a 20-minute impassioned speech. The publisher says, Nah, books for men don’t sell. What else have you got?

Q. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
A. All right. Yeah, well, it’s sold a million copies now.

Q. Yeah. Now, let’s stop for just a minute because Ransomed Heart Ministries web site says, “this is a message-centered ministry,” which is a really important phrase.
A. Yep.

Q. And at the heart of the message, actually, I think we’re getting at the heart of the-the-the message when we talk about both Wild at Heart¢â‚¬¦ But then Waking from the Dead, the whole notion of a ransomed heart, for goodness sakes, that’s the name of the ministry. So now we’re really getting to the heart of the matter. But in Wild at Heart ¢€œ and again you made a 20-minute impassioned plea to a publisher ¢€œ but just for people that haven’t read it, what’s the basic point that you make in Wild at Heart?
A. That men are wounded by their fathers and have no one to take them on the masculine journey.

Q. Yeah.
A. You see, masculinity is bestowed.

Q. Yeah.
A. You don’t just get it because you’re a boy.

Q. Yeah.
A. Right? It doesn’t come with your biology.

Q. Yeah.
A. But to know that you are a man, that deep sense of validation, which every single guy is seeking ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ through his job, through his ministry, through the girl he’s dating. Right?

Q. Yeah.
A. Okay. You don’t get that validation? You get taken out as a man. And so Wild at Heart is literally kind of the masculine journey, how to get that.

Q. Now, Christian publishers say women are the primary readership of books published by Christian publishers. This is a book that was written to men but actually ended up getting read by both men and women.
A. Oh yeah. We hear from women who love Wild at Heart. It’s helped them, you know, it’s opened up the world of men to them.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, it literally is like a secret look into, you know, a men’s club.

Q. Yeah. Now, I’ve heard so many positive things and read it myself. The only negative I ever heard was I got a newsletter from an apologetics ministry in the mid-west that basically said, This is Robert Bly with a Christian overlay. And they were really concerned about the theology of Wild at Heart. What do you say to anybody who says something like that about what you were doing in Wild at Heart?
A. Oh yeah. It’s real easy. First, Genesis 1, when God gives the image on the earth, right? When he creates his own image on the earth, he does it male and female.

Q. Yeah.
A. He’s very descriptive there. In other words, the image is the start of the level of gender.

Q. Yeah.
A. So gender is an issue of the soul.

Q. Yeah.
A. Right? So that’s not Bly, that’s the Bible. Okay?

Q. Yeah.
A. And then you start walking through the rest of the scriptures and you see God ransoming men, whether it’s Abraham, Jacob ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ Joseph, David ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ all right? The disciples of Jesus, he works with them in a certain way. There is a masculine journey.

Q. Yeah. What do you say to people who say, Yeah, but the Bible is a document describing an ancient, more primitive culture. And now in the 20th/21st century we’ve kind of reached a new era of enlightenment. Yeah, we recognize God created humans, male and female he created them, this is within the Christian community they would grant that, but-but you know, we’re looking more at a submitting one to another kind of complimentrarian kind of relationship. And a lot of the male stuff is kind of nice, but passe.
A. Well, it’s simple. Why are men so miserable and why are women so unhappy? Right? I mean, give it a go you guys.

Q. Okay.
A. Take a good hard run at it and when you’re done with that, come back to this.

Q. Okay.
A. Aristotle said, “If you want to know what is good and right, you look at the conditions under which human beings flourish.”

Q. Yeah.
A. And you live it.

Q. Yeah.
A. And you live that stuff?

Q. Yeah.
A. It doesn’t work.

Q. Okay. So-so meanwhile, in the midst of all of this, Sacred Romance did fairly well. Wild at Heart is wildly successful. And-and Ransomed Heart Ministries was actually founded while Wild at Heart was being written. Right?
A. Yeah.

Q. So you already kind of had the sense of what the mission was, even though you didn’t have any money and staff.
A. Right.

Q. Okay. So now we’re going to galoot back in a minute and talk a little bit about Ransomed Heart Ministries’ wonderful sense of vision around redemptive community, around living from the heart as God’s intimate allies. But that really gets us to the new book that we want to talk about, which is Waking the Dead. This is a book that’s about the heart. And it starts with this: “There are few things more crucial to us than our life, few things we are less clear about.” Talk about the significance of that one, or those two sentences.
A. Isn’t it true?

Q. Well, yeah.
A. I mean, come on. Most of us live in a fog. I mean, we live with this¢â‚¬¦ It’s like life is a movie we arrived to 20 minutes late.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, something important seems to be going on. But we can’t figure out this story. We don’t know what part we’re supposed to play, what the plot is, you know. They look like bad guys, they look like good guys. I have no idea what’s happening to me. So it’s that sense of universal lost-ness, fog, confusion. Right? That, we all share that.

Q. And you’re describing this as¢â‚¬¦ Actually, it reminds me I ran into somebody outside the theater after seeing Lost in Translation, and I was describing what a brilliant job the filmmaker did and the scriptwriter did of assessing the human dilemma, but that they kind of didn’t have a lot of territory into kind of how do you get out of it, to which the person responded, Well, but that’s kind of true of us as Christians, too. I mean, we’re kind of in the same situation. We get a good assessment of a situation, but we-we haven’t found a way out of it. And that’s kind of¢â‚¬¦ It’s in that tension that Waking the Dead is born. You-you’re on the one hand talking about the Gospel offers great promise, the reality is our life and reality is dissonant with the Gospel. So then you say, Either we’re blowing it or God is holding out on us.
A. Isn’t that where most of the people you know land? Bottom line. With the things that go wrong in our life, either we’re messing up. Right? I’m blowing it somehow, or God’s holding out on me. He’s not coming through.

Q. Or-or we get in the category of living by faith, because the promise that I see is not a reality, but it’s the thing hoped for yet not seen.
A. Okay, okay. Now, that’s the thing that’s really going to punch my buttons. Or we put the entire offer of the Christian life off onto heaven. Right?

Q. Yeah, yeah, exactly.
A. But Jesus doesn’t do that.

Okay, now I’ll tell you what. We’re going to pick up there when we come back. We’ve set the table for you, folks. Get ready for the meal now. John Eldredge is our guest. His book is Waking from the Dead, published by Thomas Nelson. We just described the way a lot of Christians perceive their dilemma, great promise in the Gospel, life that’s dissonant with the Gospel. Either I’m blowing it, God is holding out, or I need to just put this in the category of eternal hopes or living by faith, even though not any evidence of things hoped for. The book is Waking from the Dead. Thomas Nelson is the publisher. We’ll be right back.


Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with John Eldredge, best-selling author of Sacred Romance, Wild at Heart, newest book, Waking from the Dead, published by Thomas Nelson.

Q. We’ve been talking about the dilemma in which we find ourselves, Gospel offers great promise, reality is dissonant with the Gospel. Either I’m blowing it or God is holding out on me, or these promises of this great life are somehow in the future in heaven. Or they’re just to be kind of theoretically believed albeit there’s no evidence that they’re actually happening in my life. And-and you say¢â‚¬¦ Well, go ahead. What do you think the key is to resolving that tension, John?
A. First off, we have to recognize that we’ve lost the Gospel. I mean it. I heard it again yesterday on Christian radio, you know, that the Gospel is this: Jesus died so that you can be with him forever in heaven. But Jesus doesn’t describe the Gospel just as heaven.

Q. Absolutely.
A. He doesn’t. He says, I have come that you may have life.

Q. Yeah.
A. And have it to the full.

Q. Yeah.
A. He-he says, It is not just later, but there is a Kingdom of God that you can enter into now, there’s a life that is available now.

Q. Yeah.
A. Right? And so a little humility will just make us say, You know what? Somewhere along the line we lost that.

Q. Okay.
A. Let’s get that back.

Q. Okay. So-so getting the Gospel back in part you say involves understanding true myth and the three messages of true myths. You talk about how we resonate with different stories and mythologies, we resonate with different themes of movies like The Matrix. We resonate with these things, and you say it’s because they’re actually getting at underlying truths that are-that are, in fact, describing reality as it is and reality as it is described by our faith.
A. Yeah.

Q. So what are these messages that we should be getting out of the true myths that are floating around us?
A. Well, first off, things are not what they seem.

Q. Yeah?
A. I mean, we in the West have been stripped of spirituality. We live in a very, you know, mechanistic world, very scientific world. If I can’t see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, you know, it doesn’t exist.

Q. Yeah.
A. So we don’t live really in a spiritual world. We don’t live like there’s angels and demons.

Q. Exactly.
A. And there’s a whole kingdom around us.

Q. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
A. Okay? So¢â‚¬¦ But the scriptures warn us again and again and again. Things are not what they seem.

Q. Yeah, okay.
A. Right? That’s crucial. Because if you do not live in reality ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and that’s the basic block to any maturity, whether it’s psychological or spiritual ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ is a refusal to accept reality.

Q. Okay.
A. Right? We’re living in half reality. We live in an unspiritual world.

Q. Okay. Second myth, second message.
A. Second myth is we are at war.

Q. Yeah.
A. And this is where most people get taken out ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ is that awful things happen to them ¢€œ

Q. Uh-huh.
A. ¢€œ or good things don’t happen to them, right?

Q. Yeah.
A. And they blame it on God. Well folks, that’s not what you have going on here. This isn’t just you and God living somewhere fairly close to Eden and life’s just not working out.

Q. Yeah.
A. Right? Before Jesus says I have come that you may have life and have it to the full, literally that’s the second half of a sentence. In the same breath he says, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. But I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.

Q. And oddly enough, given the one critique of Wild at Heart, that it was kind of Robert Bly with a Christian overlay, you’re actually getting back to the very, very rudimentary themes of the Gospel. You know, wrestle not against flesh and blood, principalities and powers, spiritual warfare. Get a grip on what is real around us, there is a battle under way, it’s a battle for our soul, and it’s-it’s a desire to rob of us our joy and of our abundant life. And then your third message is-is also an essential Christian message which is, we play a crucial role.
A. Exactly. That you are needed, and desperately. See, we have this incredibly stupid idea floating around out there in Christianity that well, you know, it’s my job just to get out of God’s way. I’m, you know, such a royal blow-it that I’m just clothes for God to put on. Right? God says no. You are uniquely made in my image.

Q. Yeah.
A. Created in Christ for good works that God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in, that you play a crucial role.

Q. Yeah. So when we watch The Lord of the Rings, and we have this connection with Frodo because this guy is trying to do the right thing and trying to do something right, everything around him is opposed to it and yet he is fearless albeit at the moment tempted and almost taken out of the game. There’s a heroic nature to what he’s about. And that, in fact, is the kind of role that’s carved out for anybody that’s in a battle who understands that things are not what they seem.
A. Bingo. Bingo. We live our lives as part of a larger story.

Q. Okay.
A. That’s what’s been lost.

Q. So now in the larger story we get to the heart of the matter because you talk¢â‚¬¦ You know, the name of the ministry is Ransomed Heart Ministries. And in this book you’re talking about the heart of all things is the heart, that the heart is essential and central. Why this message about the heart?
A. Okay. Because most of us were raised in a Greek model of the human being. Right?

Q. Yeah.
A. Again, educated in the West, stripped of spirituality, we were told ¢€œ and most people right now are thinking ¢€œ oh, the heart. That’s emotion. The head, reason, the heart, emotion.

Q. Yeah.
A. That’s nonsense. In the Bible the heart is the center of human personality that, in fact, you do your deepest thinking in your heart.

Q. Now, you can see that real clearly in kind of the Old Testament and Hebrew view because there was not this distinction, this Greek distinction. But when you get into the New Testament people¢â‚¬¦ You’re right. They start making that distinction. How do you see heart described as the center of thinking and as the center of activity when we get into the New Testament?
A. Oh, it’s amazing. Two places real quick. “Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, said to them¢â‚¬¦”

Q. Yeah.
A. Is a really common phrase in the Gospel.

Q. Yeah. Thinking what¢â‚¬¦ Knowing what they’re thinking in their hearts.
A. In their hearts. Now, this will blow you away. Romans 10, Paul says, “Unless you believe in your heart ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ you shall not be saved.”

Q. Now, you get into this-this really wonderful idea that what you love is what makes life worth living, and we love from our hearts. It’s not a mental exercise. It is¢â‚¬¦ There is a passion about life. That’s really important.
A. Do you know what it’s like to live with somebody who’s totally detached? You know, friends, loved ones who are totally checked out?

Q. Yeah.
A. See, Augustus said, When the question comes to whether or not a person is good, don’t ask what they believe, ask what they love.

Q. Yeah. Well, and this is actually what Paul said when he said, you know, it’s not a greater knowledge. The greatest of these is love.
A. Bingo.

Q. Okay.
A. Love the Lord your God with all your heart.

Q. So now we’re seeing the centrality of the heart. And now you use this phrase, the ransomed heart. What’s the significance of a ransomed heart?
A. Okay. This will just blow some of your listeners away. First off, that the new covenant says your heart is good. Most Christians are still living with an Old Testament view of their heart. Jeremiah 17:9, “But my heart, I can’t go there. It’s deceitfully wicked.”

Q. Yeah.
A. No, it’s not. Not after the work of Christ. Because the promise of the new covenant is a new heart. For example, in Luke 8 in the parable of the sewer Jesus says, “But the seed that fall on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart.” I mean, it’s just mind blowing. We have really lost the Gospel.

Q. So if I have such a good heart, why do I, like Paul, find that I do the things I don’t want to do and I don’t do the things I want to do?
A. Yeah. You’re quoting Romans 7. And twice there, do you know what he says? It’s absolutely incredible. He says, So this is not me. It’s my battle with sin, but this is not my true heart. And Dick, this will make a huge difference as people battle with flesh, sin, temptation. You know, you’re walking down the hall, you know, there’s a gorgeous woman. The evil one says, you want that. My good heart says, No, I don’t. That’s a lie. I don’t. I desire the things of God.

Okay. I’ll tell you what. We’re going to pick up there when we come back, scratching the surface here, but trying to get you a sense of what you’re going to encounter in the book Waking from the Dead, published by Nelson. It’s available at your local bookstores. The author is John Eldredge, who’s also the author of Wild at Heart and The Sacred Romance. We’ll be right back.


Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with John Eldredge. His newest book is Waking from the Dead, subtitled The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive. There are few things more crucial to us than our own life. There are few things we are less clear about. Trying to bring some clarity to our life as followers of Jesus. Things are not what they seem. A battle is under way. We play a crucial role. And the heart is the center of activity. And we are thinking with our hearts. We have a new heart. It is a good heart. And once I become convinced that I have a new heart and it’s not just¢â‚¬¦ I’m not at the center of things deceitfully wicked.

Q. Now, you say that there’s ¢€œ and obviously we’re just scratching the surface here ¢€œ but there are four streams that grow out of this. Briefly talk about-about how my life changes when I come to a clear understanding that I’m playing a crucial role, that it’s driven by my heart.
A. Yeah. First off, that the restoration of your heart is primarily what God’s up to.

Q. Yeah.
A. Because Jesus quotes Isaiah 61 when he shows up. His sort of first day in the synagogue, the very first sermon he gives announcing his ministry, he goes back to Isaiah 61, which says, “I’ve come to heal the brokenhearted and set the captive free.” Now, we are all the brokenhearted. You see, life will shatter your heart. From childhood on up, disappointment, loss, abuse, setback. It’s not just sin.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. Although sin is such an issue that the Son of God had to die for it.

Q. Yeah.
A. Okay. It’s also brokenness. And what’s just astounding is that any time Jesus gets a hold of a person, no matter what their difference, what he does is always the same. The blind see, the lame walk, you know, the deaf hear. He restores them. So this is the other half of sort of Christianity. Again, not just pardon, not just forgiveness, not just heaven, but how does God restore the human being? How does he restore the image-bearers that he created? Well, four strands, I think: healing, counseling, deliverance, and discipleship.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. Sort of four strands which have long existed in different places in the church, but which really need to flow together in order for us to see people genuinely restored, which is frankly what we’re about. I just want to see people restored as image-bearers of God.

Q. Uh-huh. How did you come to understand these things personally in your own life? Not as kind of theological, intellectual construct, but as a gee, this is what God has done in John Eldredge’s life?
A. Right. First off, let’s take discipleship. Most people hear the term and, like me, for years I thought, Oh, that’s a program. I need to memorize Bible verses, or I need to take a class on Evangelism. Right? But you look again at the scriptures and discipleship is simply walking with God.

Q. Yeah.
A. It is the most simple and beautiful gift of the Christian life. You get to walk with God.

Q. Yeah.
A. You get to hear his voice, you get to be intimate with Him. Well, you’ve heard part of my story. You know, my story is walking with God. Do this, do that, quit this, go here, start this, write that, say this, you know. There’s an intimacy there that I didn’t know wasn’t normal for other people until I start talking to Christians and I go, You’re kidding me? You never hear from God? You know, he talks to me every day. Whoa, we need to recover that.

Q. Now, some people listen to your story, though, and they say, Well John, in your case you walked away from your job, you sat down at your word processor in the basement, you listened to what God had to say, and things fell in pleasant places. I mean, the next thing that happened is you wrote a book that sold a million copies. And they’ll say for every person that, you know, that’s their story, there’s ten other people that did something similar and-and almost lost their shirt. And so they listen with a certain sense of experience and fear at stepping out and moving outside of their comfort zone as part of their imminent walk with God. What do you say to them?
A. First off, what I am not saying, Dick, is kind of the new prosperity Gospel.

Q. Yeah.
A. Okay?

Q. Absolutely not. You didn’t know that you were going to sell a million copies.
A. No. It had nothing to do with why I wrote it.

Q. Yeah.
A. When we opened, the very first weekend of our men’s ministry, the retreats we do for men, on that very first weekend my best friend was killed in a rock climbing accident.

Q. Oh my gosh.
A. At the retreat. Okay. So I know suffering, I know that¢â‚¬¦

Q. So while you were writing the book you started a workshop thing.
A. Right. Yeah, we do retreats for men and for women.

Q. Yeah.
A. And what we do there is restore the image.

Q. Okay. So the walking and intimate counsel from God is not without spiritual warfare which is ¢€œ you actually talk about that ¢€œ fighting from the heart. So when your friend dies at that first weekend retreat, after you’ve kind of walked away from your job, you’ve trusted God, you’re walking with God, you’ve got this intimate counsel, your friend dies. Now, what does it mean to fight from the heart for you, John Eldredge?
A. Well, doesn’t everything at that moment say quit? Give up, go home, back down, surrender. Right? God’s abandoned you, God’s betrayed you, you know. I mean, the messages roar in. And when they come with pain in our lives, we think they’re true because they’re delivered with such force.

Q. Yeah. So how did you get your heart in fighting shape and respond?
A. This is crucial. I knew right away I can have one of two things. I can have understanding or I can have God. Right? I can demand that he explain to me why that happened. And I’m telling you, friends, you don’t get an explanation, not for everything.

Q. Yeah.
A. For some things, yes, but not for everything.

Q. Yeah.
A. Or you can have Isaiah 61, the healing of your broken heart. And I’m like, look, sign me up. I am the brokenhearted. I want that. And so that stream ¢€œ I talk about the stream of healing ¢€œ again, I know it personally. I know what it is for Jesus to keep his promise to heal our broken hearts. He did.

Q. So then you move to ¢€œ and again folks, all of this is-is dealt with in detail in Waking from the Dead. Not detailed in an information sense, because it’s very engaging raeding, I don’t want to mislead you there, but you move into this walk with God, receiving intimate counsel from God, fighting from your heart, and then setting hearts free.
A. Yeah. Yeah, because it’s really what it’s about. Jesus said, the Father sent me so send I you. I believe what Jesus primarily came to do was give us back our hearts and set us free to be his intimate ones.

Q. Yeah. Now, when you start talking about setting hearts free and you start talking about your own adventure, this is scary stuff. As a matter of fact, it is so countercultural to the way most of us think and make decisions, and it’s so countercultural both to the culture and to the Christian subculture that you’re moving like into this totally foreign territory.
A. Yeah.

Q. So-so-so what does that mean?
A. You know, it’s a real simple test. You shall know them by their fruits. Okay? Do you want life? Do you want freedom? Well, here’s the way. You know? You want to try the other thing? Well, go for it. I mean, the programs, the formulas, you know, all of that stuff that we’ve bought into in Christianity, which is really godlessness at its base, it’s really our way of living without radical dependence on God.

Q. Yeah.
A. We don’t want to live in a way that God has to show up. See? If he does show up, great, that’d be great. But if he doesn’t, I’ve got a back-up plan.

Q. Yeah. Well folks, I think you’ve got a sense of what’s going on here and it’s nothing short of a new and radical paradigm, that is, more than a paradigm. I don’t mean that in a kind of, oh we’ve got a new 1-2-3 formula. It’s a kind of a revisiting of the basics of our faith and a challenge to us to actually step out and believe it and live it instead of theorize about it. And it’s interesting stuff. The book is Waking from the Dead, published by Nelson. It’s by John Eldredge, subtitled The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive. And the web site address, John, is what?
A. And when you get there you’re going to find out about all sorts of additional craziness, Wild at Heart boot camps, ransomed femininity retreats, and more. Thanks for being with us, John. We’re going to be back with more of The Dick Staub Show right after this, folks. Stay there. We’ll be right back.

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