Monthly Archives: April 2013

With Heavy Hearts, We Ask for Prayer

Posted by in Brotherhood,Faith | April 30, 2013


Editor’s Note: It is with a heavy heart that I bring you this news. One of our first brothers, JJ Russell, is gathered with his younger brother Chad and the rest of his family at the hospital. Their mother is on her deathbed, and never have the prayers of the saints meant more to our brotherhood. May we honor our brothers JJ and Chad, and their beautiful mother Beth Russell (who has valiantly battled cancer over the past year), with prayers of comfort and sorrow and a spirit of peace and thanksgiving. The family needs will be many in the coming days and months, but nothing will replace the need to be with her. We take comfort in the fact that one day we too will join her to walk the streets where there are no tears. JJ and Chad, we love you. You and your family are a treasure we boast of and a joy to everyone you meet. You have our hearts and our hands, our ears and our prayers, tonight and in the difficult days to come. Friends, please pray. Our family is losing a mother and a friend; her husband Terry is losing a wife. We know that God will welcome his daughter with open arms, but we wish it wasn’t so soon. And in times like this, our purpose is so clear. To be there for the Russell family and to cover them with prayer. We believe in its power and we claim it as our own.

Jesse Vaughan: Do You Believe in Evolution?

Posted by in Faith | April 22, 2013


Editor’s Note: Too often, most humans spend a disproportionate amount of time defending their initial conclusions instead of thinking critically and pursuing a convincing encounter with the truth, even if it’s outside of their comfort zone. Unfortunately, this goes for most Christians as well. However, as Jesse Vaughan, a freshman in high school, reminds us, challenging what is being taught and accepted without question will usually bring you both persecution as well as opportunity. And Jesse has gladly embraced both. May we all be so bold.

My name is Jesse Vaughan and I am a freshman at Norcross High school. I am a member of the freshman group and went through the 20 weeks of boot camp and combat training with IRON and FIRE. This group was a huge encouragement for me, and it prepared me to be more of a warrior for Christ.

At my school we had started studying evolution in my biology class. As soon as I heard the topic, I knew this could give me the opportunity to share Creationism and the power of God. The wednesday before we started this section on evolution, Jeff had given an analogy explaining how macro-evolution is impossible. Seeing that this topic had come up in the classroom, I turned to my friend and just asked, “Do you believe in evolution?” He said, “Well yes, it’s what I have been taught my entire life.” So I told him, “Oh I don’t.” And he says, “Ok, what do you believe.” This then gave me the chance to say, “Devin, I believe in creationism and that God created this universe,” and I also shared the analogy Jeff had shared with me.

After that, five kids in my class must have been listening because they turned around and said, “Wow! That makes a lot of sense!” I then pulled up the Bible app on my phone. I went straight to Genesis one to show my friend and this other girl in the class said, “Oh, is that the Bible app where you can set it up to where it emails you a verse every day or something?” I said, “I think so but I haven’t set it up.” Devin said to me after that just jokingly, “I guess you’re not a good Christian without that app.” This gave me the chance to look up Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works so that no one can boast.” I said after that to my friend, “You see, that would be a work and my salvation is not by works but is the by the grace of God. After that the girl was saying, I really need to write that one down and Devin just seemed very curious but did not say anything else as the lesson then started.

About twenty minutes into this class, we started a worksheet which required us to answer questions true or false to see prior knowledge on this subject. I saw the questions and then asked my teacher, “What if we do not believe in evolution?” She said, “Well, what do you believe then?” I said, “I believe in creationism and that there has to be an intelligent designer, which is God.” I stated that the evolution theory seemed illogical to me based on the fact that nothing cannot become something, and that something which came from nothing could ever turn into the world we live in today. I also stated in Genesis 1:1 it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” My teacher then said, “Jesse, just put whatever you believe; but in this class it will not be right.” After this first day of evolution, to my classmates in biology, I am now known as the Christian kid; and I am also trying at every chance to debate this theory in order to share more about Christ. God has showed me I am a light into my school and am there for a big reason.

The week after this, my baseball coach had invited the whole baseball team to go on this retreat at his church called D-Now. Out of many players only seven agreed to go, and I was one of them. God had spoken to us all and now on wednesday mornings we are having a Bible study. Two of my main targets at Norcross have shown interest and will start coming to our BIble study including Devin, the kid I had talked about before. The original seven guys and our amazing baseball coach have recognized we are starting a movement at Norcross High school, and I cannot wait to see what happens!

Jesse Vaughan

Drew Hagenstad: The Universe is Rigged

Posted by in Brotherhood,Faith | April 15, 2013


Editor’s Note: Drew takes us down an interesting pattern of attempting to fill the proverbial void with idols of friendship and brotherhood. Things we all feel will cure that ancient sort of loneliness. All credit to Drew though, through years of let-downs and constantly seeking the truth that was right under his nose, the peace and comfort found in Christ and brotherhoods centered around God is finally his.

“Several years ago, I would have told you that I thought a brotherhood was just a group of bros that do stuff together.  A group of guys that are all good friends with each other.  Maybe date some of the same girls, play the same sport, do some of the same drugs, or study some of the same stuff.

I wanted to be a part of something like that.  In middle school and most of high school, I had friends, but I wasn’t a part of any of these “groups.”  I always felt like I was naturally excluded from these brotherhoods, figuratively (and sometimes literally) standing on the outside of the circle, looking in and listening.  If only I could be part of that circle!

It was only when I started becoming part of these groups of friends that I realized that I still wasn’t satisfied.  This multi-friend phenomenon I built up in my mind wasn’t as fulfilling as I imagined.  I was still missing something.

I was on Young Life work crews at camps for three straight summers, where I experienced and learned an astronomical amount of important things about life, including what a true friend is.  But after every single time I was on work crew, instead of dwelling on and living out the most important things as I returned to real life afterwards, I spent all of my time either clinging on to the long-distance friendships that began at camp, or exhaustingly working to get the friendships I had at home to fill the void left in me after I had to leave camp and the friends I made there.

These are just a few examples of how I’ve spent my entire life continually searching for people I can develop relationships with, thinking that such relationships would satisfy the longing inside me.

I just didn’t get it.  And despite all of the truth God instilled in me off and on throughout the next four years, I still didn’t get it.  The idolatry of interpersonal relationships had completely poisoned my brain, and only a complete and utter embrace of truth could cure me.  But I ran away from the truth and continued to chase after the lie that this world is more important than the next.

A wise friend once told me that the universe is rigged so that anything that doesn’t revolve around God completely falls apart.  In my life I can say with certainty that I have spent far more time thinking about my relationships with other people than my relationship with God.  And only in the past couple months have I realized that this is not normal, this is not natural, this is not the way God intended life to be.  These fragile, meaningless friendships I had weren’t satisfying because I was missing Jesus the entire time.  Everyone around me was on a pedestal above my Father.

I was loving, pursuing, worshiping my best friends, my work crew friends, my girlfriend.  I was trying to serve earthly gods I had crafted in my mind from a desire for acceptance and love.  And when the respective universes surrounding those gods always fell apart, it never hit me that they fell apart because those people were not gods.  They are broken, sinful people like me.  They couldn’t handle all of my struggles.  They didn’t have the answers to all the questions I asked them.  And they weren’t the creator of the universes that revolved around them in my mind, and therefore everything fell apart.  Voids were left in my soul when those universes fell apart, and instead of running to the only One who could help me, I rushed to fill that void with more idols, more earthly persons I could love and worship and yearn for love and acceptance in return.

As I said earlier, I was missing Jesus the entire time.  And it was right under my nose.  Every time I went to church or went to youth group or spent my summers at Young Life camps, my Father was calling for me to cast away my idolatry, run back to Him, and to immerse myself in His perfect love and holiness.

I know now that a true brotherhood is a group of men which is centered on God.  A group of men in Christ who gather to spread God’s glory in this world, where each member ensures that he and his brothers are keeping the only true God at the forefront of their lives.  And I invite any of my brothers that are reading this now to pray for me and for each other.  Idolatry is one of the most formidable weapons used against our identity in Christ, and God knows I could use some help in keeping Him at the forefront of my life, thus ridding me of the idols that have corrupted my mind for so long.”

Drew Hagenstad

Will Ogletree: Where’s the Justice?

Posted by in Faith,Video | April 11, 2013

My struggle became, “God where’s the justice? Where’s the fairness for me?”

Will Ogletree takes us through his journey playing sports in college and wrestling with what God had for him. After confusion and disappointment, he ended up seeking God for answers daily and discovered the sort of relationship God had wanted all along. Sometimes we look for God in the blessings or after heartache. Will reminds us that God wants to be a part of our life all the time. Not just when we’re looking for Justice.

Will Ogletree Video Story Teaser!

Posted by in Brotherhood | April 10, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Tomorrow we will release our 4th video. In it, Will Ogletree opens up about how his disappointment with circumstances in life led him to regularly seek God, instead of only honoring him when receiving life’s blessings. It’s a lesson we all need to learn. Thanks Will!

Trey Reed: A Reflection on Being Single

Posted by in Faith | April 1, 2013


Editor’s Note: Trey starts this piece off by saying that he understands. I think it’s a good place to begin when explaining a new mind-frame or state of being. For Trey, his realization that Christ supplements our loneliness and meets our emotional needs opened his eyes to what it meant to be single. Thanks to Trey for sharing his thoughts on something we rarely take the time to consider.

“I have reached a point in my life now, where I understand that loneliness is supplemented by communion with Christ. I used to think that I needed friends, or better yet, a girlfriend to fill that void. I can’t count the number of times that I thought that I needed a girlfriend. However, resting more and more on God for emotional needs is a very liberating place to be. He meets them in every way.

I must say, that this time last year, had I been in a similar situation (lonely in the foreign city of Seoul, Korea), I would have been craving the attention of a woman; thinking that IF I just had a girlfriend in my life, things would be okay. This has always been an idol of mine, and it’s nice to have put God back in his rightful place on the spiritual totem pole; at the very top.

This new place in life is seriously making me rethink Christian singleness and whether it is right for me. I always knew it was legitimate, just as Paul says; but I never believed it was legitimate for me. In the back of my mind, I would say, “Yeah, well good for single people, I’m going to get married one day.” But I think if I had a choice right now, I would choose being single for a long time. I like it like this. And for as long as I can remember, I was always dissatisfied with single life. But that goes to show how drastically life can change when our priorities are straight and our idols are squashed. Sure, this idol probably has not gone away forever, like most idols in our sinful hearts, but for now, I’m enjoying life without it.

I remember a couple years back, my Aunt Patti giving me advice about being single (she was married young) and she essentially told me that there is so much to experience in being single; in life, in our walks with God. Her advice was very much in line with what Paul says about being single (which was radical in his day and still is), and at the time I didn’t understand fully what she was trying to tell me; and I think she knew that I just didn’t get it at the time because I had blinders over my eyes. But I understand it now. I understand.”

Trey Reed