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Apr 05, 2011

Marty
 

I had come to a place of deep resignation that my story was about to end darkly and with a whimper…  I was 44 years old, weighed over 350 pounds, was struggling with complications from diabetes, high blood pressure, and my cholesterol was increasing.  More importantly I was giving in to an ever growing despair about my declining health and I was suffering from a very weary heart.  I felt like a wreck.  So much so, that I had come to accept the fate of an early death from all of my health complications.  I even went as far as calling up three of my friends and reminding them of their prior pledge to preach at my funeral.  To take my story back to the beginning let me share that I have struggled with weight and self-worth issues for over 30 years.  Since childhood I had silently nursed the deep wound of believing what some had said about me, that I was “fat and ugly.”  I accepted their estimate of me and had imprisoned myself in that persona for so long that I eventually gave up on what I thought God could do with me.  Thankfully God hadn’t given up on me, and amazingly my story was far from over!

In the summer of 2009, I was driving from Kentucky to Florida to visit the family of a friend and spiritual mentor who had passed away.  I remember passing from state to state, listening to an audio book by John Eldredge wherein he talked about an experience of God sharing with him a new name and a new purpose for his life—this sounded too good to be true.  I became increasingly frustrated with the mention of such an idea.  I know I was still pretty raw from the loss of my friend.  But to tell the truth, I had never even thought of such a possibility for myself.  I stopped the mp3 player and shouted to no one in particular, “Well, that’s great for John, but what about me!”  “God, where do I fit in your plans???”  I spoke this out loud as a rhetorical question.  But immediately God spoke deep from my heart, saying, “I want you to be my strongman.”  …Silence…  I was stunned!  This was too crazy to believe!  I was overweight and had only recently been contemplating my funeral.  As I drove on I began to weep.  The idea of a weak and broken man becoming strong sounded so far-fetched that I couldn’t even process it.  Did I mention that I’m a minister?  That I was struggling with such a prominent theme in scripture is embarrassing but true!  This would take time.  Although I shared this experience with one very close friend, I still struggled to accept what God might have planned for me.  In a few months God would move me beyond my fears and doubts and begin re-writing my story fast and furiously!

In December of 2009 I signed up for the selection process of our county’s Biggest Loser contest.  In January I received the news that I had made the cut and would be their first ever individual (non-team) contestant.  This category of competition had not even been available the year before.  A door had opened wide!  I not only competed, but by the end of 12 weeks I had won the title of Most Weight Lost of all competitors—taking off 83 lbs!  Could there be a “strongman” deep inside me after all?!  This fired me up to continue.  For the first time in a very long while I was coming to appreciate being fathered by God’s grace, and I was coming to see myself as I now know God sees me—a beloved son whom he loves deeply.  This was liberating beyond words!

I continued to shed weight—in both body and soul—and now have lost 150 lbs..  I’m down to a much healthier weight of 199lbs!  In many circles in our small community, I have become the “talk of the town.”  And by my doctor’s release, I’m now off all 5 of my medications and in fantastic shape!  I still hit the gym or jog daily, and I’ve come to enjoy bicycling competitively to help keep the weight coming off.  But it doesn’t stop there…  I have been asked to help lead the local Living Well nutrition class.  And to come full circle, I was hired to work part-time as a fitness manager at our local gym!  People are also asking me to come and share my testimony at their church.  It’s all a God thing!  When anyone asks me what has happened, I take my message back to the heart!  No longer do I buy into the enemy’s lie that I’m “fat and ugly.”  I’m both healed and healing—becoming God’s strongman in ways I had never imagined!  My story appears to be far from over, and for that I am excited and eternally grateful!  I now know that a ransomed heart really is possible!  And to that I shout, “Amen!!!”

- Marty

 

07 AM
Mar 09, 2011

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Through the message of Ransomed Heart, Henry has experienced God opening up his heart, learning that's it's ok to be himself, safe to be authentically imperfect person, and that God still loves him deeply.  He has been set free!  Watch as Henry shares his story.  Click on the "read more" to watch.

 

07 AM
Feb 15, 2011

Sub-3
 

 

I have experienced the rescue from what my heart has been so bitter and angry at God about.  In everything that God has done for me in the last five years, I have not seen.  My people back home, I have hurt so very badly because I refused what God was asking them to do for me.  He finally came to my rescue.

Was it the dramatic ride in on a horse with a sword?  No!  I am a broken man.  True to scripture He met me in my blindness and foreshadowed everything before each session.  I could see!  I could hear!  I am free!

There has been so much done here this weekend in my story, I don't believe it is done.  I look forward to what a Father has for his son.  Rise and rise again until lambs become lions!

- Craig

 

03 AM
Jan 26, 2011

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Nine weeks ago I stood before 21 married couples and welcomed them to the first session of Love & War, a nine-week marriage series based on John and Stasi Eldredge's latest book. I had led a regular small group of 10 couples through other marriage studies before, but this was totally different. I'm thankful that the material the Eldredge's provided was so well-written and thorough; all I had to do each week was introduce the material and facilitate my own small discussion group. When I first suggested to our small group that we leave our regular format and offer the Love & War study to the church, I guessed we might pick up three or four couples. I was blown away when 12 couples signed up. Clearly, there was an interest in the subject, but I believe the personal invitations we extended also contributed to the large turn out.

Each week we watched the DVD as John and Stasi recapped the week's reading from the book. Then, we would break up into smaller discussion groups to go through the questions in the participant's guide. By week two, regular groups had formed as people got to know each other. It was encouraging to see personal connections being made. Not every couple made it to every session, and there were a few couples who decided the experience was too much to handle. But, by the end of the nine weeks, couples were telling me that the series challenged them; they were having conversations they never thought possible. During some discussions there were some tears, a few arguments, but also a lot of laughs as each spouse realized the issues they were dealing with were not unique to just their marriage.

One of the great things about the Love & War study is that it is not simply a "how to" guide of 10 steps to a better marriage. It is not a collection of generalized marriage tips, but a journey "back to the garden." John and Stasi establish some firm principles right from the beginning, such as "marriage is hard, but you are not alone" and "God is intimately interested in your marriage because he put it together and it serves a purpose greater than you." The fact that both John and Stasi (as well as the other three couples in their own small group) were willing to share some of the deep things about their marriage which made the series feel more like "we are all in this together" and less like "we have all the answers so just shut up and listen."

I'm thankful that God placed Love & War at our disposal and that the response to the study has been overwhelmingly positive. One of the discussion groups became so close they are seriously considering forming a regular small group!  We provided a short survey to evaluate what folks thought of the series. About half the people had never been part of a marriage study but 91% of all the couples said they would recommend Love & War to a friend. My hope is that my wife and I can facilitate another round of Love & War in the near future.

Thank you John and Stasi!

- Justin

 

06 AM
Jan 12, 2011

  Band2
 

Many years ago, in high school, as a birthday gift, my grandmother purchased Wild At Heart and presented it to me.  As a boy who'd grown up without a father, she hoped it would help to bridge the gap that my father had left in my life.  I read it voraciously several times, each time taking something new from it.  The book had changed my life, and I hung on to every word, not as a Bible, but as yet another tool to add to my collection of things that could help me become a more Godly man and a better person. And what a tool it was!  The book was so profound, it was my primary tool to change myself to become the person I wanted to be, and the person I am today (not quite who I want to be, but I'm still getting there).

Wild At Heart was in fact such a deep experience for me, that when I found my calling in life - music - I drew from the book for the band's name.  Mr. Eldredge had said that every man sought three things out of life: a beauty to rescue, an adventure to live, and a battle to fight.  I tossed those three things in my head for weeks, and finally came to agree with him whole-heartedly.  When it came time to name my band, I thought of the book that had done so much for me personally, and I thought about those three things that all men wanted.  I had decided beforehand that, in my personal experience and perception, the hardest of those three things to find in the modern world was the battle to fight, that one epic dragon to slay that would be your crowning accomplishment in life.  God has one for all of us, no doubt, but sometimes life can seem so mundane that we wonder if all the dragons have already been slain.

When it came time to name my band, I named it "A Battle To Fight."  I hoped that one day the band would become famous (the hope of many musicians), and that my lyrics would bring inspiration and courage to listeners everywhere, that I could connect with those people and they could find hope the same way that I find hope in music and lyrics that remind me that I am not alone in life.  I knew that if I ever did become famous, the band's name would certainly come into question.  Where had I derived it from?  I hoped, and to this day hope, that I can some day stand in front of a camera or microphone and tell the world the story I've just shared; the name is from a book, a powerful book, that gave me courage to change myself for the better, and that's something I want everyone to experience.

- Nicholas

 

05 AM
Dec 15, 2010

Dec 15 2010
 

 

I felt a different time with God.  A shift in our relationship.  He showed me how he has been with me my entire life!

God brought memories and events back to my heart and showed me how He called out the true me, all through my life, in different stages.  And He said to me:

I pursued you when you ran.

And I came for you at your worst.

I love you my son.  Accept my love.

I will give you everything you need to live life strong, for Me.

Thank you, thank you Ransomed Heart for your work in the Kingdom.

- Bill

 

04 AM
Dec 08, 2010

Dana

 

I've sat down many times to share about the overflowing blessings of God from the latest Captivating Event at Frontier Ranch.  However, words just aren't sufficient. They never are. On the flight to Denver, I told God about all of the things I hoped for and if I only got one of them, that would be enough for me. And I meant it with my whole heart. God, being who He is, not only did everything that I hoped for, He did more. Just because He can. Just because He loves me.

During our Covenant of Silence on Friday night, we were to spend time asking God two questions: What do you say about me? How do you feel towards me? This was something I had been desiring to hear so badly over the past couple of years. God has led me in unexpected directions and the repercussions of following Him have been more blessing than I have ever hoped to know coupled with more pain than I knew was possible. I needed to hear from God, especially in this area.

Throughout our time that night, the Lord spoke very healing and sweet words over my heart. However, I couldn't hear the name He uses for me. I held my white stone, rubbing it with my thumb. I could feel my name right there but I had no idea what it was. I would get a word or phrase but it didn't feel like my name. Sweet but my spirit didn't respond to it. Then it came:

Wild Woman

I knew this was it because two things happened immediately. 1. My heart leaped and a giggled slipped out of my lips. 2. I heard in the back of my head, "That's not me." Thankfully, I was able to recognize what just happened - it was the first thing my spirit responded to and it was the first thing that was attacked. I sat with it a moment asking God if He was sure. "You know me. I'm a 30 year old, single, first grade teacher that loves to sit in bookstores and drink hot tea. Wild Woman? I trust you but I don't see it." God told me He knows. He's sure. We weren't finished but He sent me to bed.

That night, this Texas girl woke up with very cold toes. I slipped on socks but was wide awake. God was ready to finish this. As I laid in my bed with just God to keep me company, this is what went down:
 
God:  What are you struggling with?
Me:    The "wild" part.
God:  What does wild mean to you?
Me:    Edgy.  Crazy.  Sporty.  Extreme.
God:  That's adventurous.  Not wild.
Me:    What does wild mean to You?
God:  Look around. These mountains that take your breath away. These aspens you are falling in love with. That stream you sat by earlier. The stars that you've been waiting to sit under. All of that is wild. That is my creation. It is strong and beautiful just as I made it. It is exactly where I want it. It is under my care. In my hands, it is perfect in every way. There is nothing that can make it better aside from Me. That is what wild means. Untouched by man. You, Dana, are my Wild Woman. Made by Me - In your beauty. In your strength. In My care. You are untamed, wild beauty.

I'm thankful God is an emotional God. I'm thankful He understands the need for tears. I'm thankful He allows us to process things in bits. I'm thankful He is sweet to continually reveal the layers of what He said that night. He has shown me more of what wild means to Him.

My white rock sits on my night stand. When I glance at it and see the words "Wild Woman" written on it, I smile and giggle. There is still a part of me that shakes my head at that. No one but God would call me wild. Maybe that's part of the reason He chose it. But when I sit with it, when I remember, it takes my breath away.

 

02 AM
Dec 01, 2010

Time
 

Dear Stasi and John Eldredge,

I just want to say thank you for your book Captivating!

I'm a 24 years old catholic woman from Germany (I'm sorry for all the mistakes I'm making writing in English...) and I have read the German version of this book some months ago. Reading the book I said to myself: "Did they write this book just for me? But how do they know me?!" I was so impressed of how you told me about the deep wound of my heart which I didn't know before! All that I read in the book was so true! You wrote exactly about my wound!

My father never had much time for his children, and he never ever told me that I was beautiful. I cried a lot reading the book, it was a good, healing crying. I suddenly understood things in my life that I had not understood before.

And God is so good!!! He gave me not only your book but while I was reading it, he also gave me the friendship to a 20 years older man who has become a second father for me. During some months we were working together in a christian pro-life organisation and so we met nearly every day. His fatherly presence helped me a lot to heal my wound.

There was a moment when he didn't have much time for me. That was difficult for me because it reminded to my heart that my father never had much time for me. So now I felt once more the pain that I had since my childhood and for the first time, I could really cry about this pain my father had given to me. For the first time, I could grasp this pain. This was a very important moment for me.

So during some time I felt that God was healing my heart. But then I noticed that the evolution stagnated. And I also noticed why: I was still holding my wound. I was praying about it, but I had not yet given it completely to God. So I decided to do this step with the help of a priest: There was a eucharistic prayer evening where some priests gave a special blessing to those who asked for. So I went to a priest and asked for the complete healing of my heart. He prayed over me and in this moment I really gave my wound to God. Since this evening, I feel so free!!!

There is still one important detail in my story: I always knew that God loved me, that he cared for me, but for me God the Father was always very far, somewhere over the clouds - because I didn't knew a tenderly loving Daddy. Then God gave me my "second Daddy" who used to take me in his arms when he said me hello, to tell me that I was beautiful, and to listen to me attentively when I told him what was going on in me (while my biological Dad never even tries to understand me).  Then one day while I was sitting at home, praying, I suddenly felt something I had never felt before: I felt God the Father loving me tenderly, it felt like he took me in his arms, me, his beloved daughter! Great feeling! :)

I am so happy for all that God has done for me and without your book, it would have been much more difficult for me to let him heal my wound! So I say again THANK YOU for this book!!!

Now I am reading Wild at Heart and I'm discovering what's going on in a man. Very interesting! :)

Greetings from Germany,

Maria

 

12 AM
Nov 17, 2010

DessertHorizon
 

 

It's a miracle that I came (to Boot Camp) this weekend, really.  On August 8, 2010 I was at the lowest of lows.  I confessed to my beautiful wife that I was headed down the road of an affair with another woman during the past summer.  God's kindness led to my repentance and He saved me from total destruction.  While I never followed through on it, I came close enough and have caused incredible damage to my marriage.

I was looking for validation in all the wrong areas.  I knew the warnings in Proverbs about the adulterous woman, but my choices revealed my need for a strength I didn't possess.  My daily life, though blessed with a beautiful wife and three amazing kids, became a relentless reminder that I didn't measure up.

Earlier that May I met with my Pastor and he spoke a prophetic word over me though we hadn't known each other for more than 10 minutes.  He said, "Josh, I feel like God is telling me that you need to be involved in ministry somehow, someway."  From that point on, Satan unleashed hell on me and the seductive words of another woman hooked me.  Over a period of three months the warfare was so great that I fell and chose to seek validation in another woman, to escape my life and to run for God.

My life was filled with shame, guilt and accusations before and during all of this.  One guy I confessed to, who I barely knew (and initially wanted to fight as he walked through my front door on the day I confessed) directed me towards this weekend and called you guys to get me in this.  He gave me the Four Streams CD's and since then a miraculous transformation has been occurring.  At a time when I, in the worlds eyes, should feel ashamed, condemned and disqualified, I feel just the opposite.  I feel confident, no condemnation and qualified to share God's forgiveness, grace, mercy and overwhelming love.  For the First time in my life I feel equipped as a son of God.  

I feel the ability to silence the enemies lies he would hurl at me.  For the first time since my earthly father suddenly died in my arms to a freak heart disorder, I feel and now see and hear my true heavenly Father speaking to me.  I feel God's calling on my life to be transformed, to lead other wounded men, and to be a man that fights for the sacred things in life.

While I know the days in front of me are going to be a time of healing, learning and training, I also know God has spoken to me that I will use this story one day.  Ransomed Heart Ministries hits so close to my core, it calls out my story and I am evidence of the tremendous power God is revealing through this ministry.

- Josh

 

03 AM
Nov 10, 2010

Nov10
 

 

In September I completed facilitating a Wild at Heart Boot Camp (used the DVDs) at a Federal prison at Ft. Dix in New Jersey. I had 15 guys in the class, 12 of them were Christian, one guy is Jewish, one Native American (practices their spiritual beliefs) and one Asatru (also called Odonists – they believe in the Viking gods.)


I could write page after page about the experience, about what happened. Best to just leave it at – God showed up, guys got healed, love was shared, lives were changed. Of all of the guys who lives were changed, it may actually be mine that was changed the most. I highly recommend facilitating the program, the experience takes your understanding of the material, and potential application of the material to a whole new level.
 


When I asked the guys for feedback at the end of the program, the most significant response I got was – “This book seems like it was written just for us.” When you consider where they are, when you consider that they are not only prisoners physically but also prisoners spiritually and emotionally, and you realize the freedom and hope they got from the program, then you truly understand what that comment means. They were all very thankful to John for writing Wild at Heart and thankful for the Boot Camp program.

- Stan

 

02 AM