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Yearly Archives: 2013
“Everywhere we look in life, we find conflicting views on achieving true fulfillment and happiness. There are many different worldly avenues through which one can search for significance, whether through being successful in the business field, having popularity throughout social circles, getting attention from the right girls, you name it. It is all too easy to get caught up in this secular worldview where God is, in essence, placed on the backburner as we pursue finding our own significance through worldly means. This is exactly what Satan wants, to make the things of this temporary world so enticing to our flesh that we make them more important than God.
This is by far my biggest struggle in life. Some part of me, deep down, believes that if I devote myself fully, one hundred percent to God, I will be missing out on all of the “fun” that this world has to offer. It’s only recently that God has opened my eyes to this struggle. He has given me nearly everything I desired in my selfish nature as I pursued finding my significance through other means: the girls, a great close group of friends, getting into nearly any school I desired, a great and understanding family, being highly well off, and even a state football championship. If examined solely from a secular point of view, my life would be going as well as I could hope and I should have no complaints.
But with all of these worldly, albeit positive, experiences, I lost track of God and placed Him on the backburner of my life so that I could enjoy everything else. God was the One who was truly making all of this happen for me, but rather than acknowledge Him for all that was happening, I began to place more and more focus on myself and pursuing fulfillment by these worldly means. However, again and again, I was left wanting more, and knowing that there was more! I had bought into what the world says will make you fulfilled, while making God less of a priority in my life. The irony of this is, as I tried to become more and more significant through secular means, I was truly becoming more and more empty on the inside because these things had partly taken over the position that God had in my life.
Although none of these things were bad (I still thank God every day for them), it was vital to realize God’s presence in my life and acknowledge the fact that none of this would come without Him. The fallen world that we live in calls for all of the importance to be placed on yourself and the life that you are living on the outside; while in actuality, God needs to be our priority so that our spiritual health on the inside can bear fruits that are easily seen in our outside lives. This is much easier said than done, and I still struggle with this issue daily; but it is vital to remain rooted in the fact that God alone provides true significance.”
“My name is Timothy Parks. I am 21 years old and a student at Georgia State University. I have been a part of IRON & FIRE since its inception but have known Jeff Knapp for almost 10 years.
I have lived in downtown Atlanta now for almost a year and it has definitely been a learning experience. I have struggled with many things, a marijuana addiction and lust being the main 2, and I can assure you that Atlanta caters to both of those temptations. Recently, I had been struggling with marijuana; but thanks to IRON & FIRE and our brotherhood, I knew how important it is to keep God in your life (even in times when you have fallen) and to keep a circle of brothers that you can go to in times of need.
At the beginning of this year, I got out of a bad living situation that was affecting my performance at school; and I began working on starting fresh in a better, more Christ centered environment. In my previous living arrangement, I lived a typical college lifestyle: 10 AM was a good time to start downing a couple of beers, smoking a blunt in the morning felt mandatory, and going to class, unless there was a test that day, was frowned upon. While living in an environment like this, it was nearly impossible to avoid becoming accustomed to that lifestyle, so I fell and wallowed in my sin. Thankfully, as time went on, I began to hear the Lord calling me away from it all. Everything began to lose its appeal and become dull to me. I knew it was time to get myself out of that environment before things got worse, so I did. I moved into a new place, much quieter and not filled with hundreds of college students; but this didn’t mean an end to my struggles.
It quickly became apparent that my environment was no longer the issue; I was. I found myself getting bored and not knowing what to do; and the first thing that came to mind was, “I should smoke;” and so I did. I was conflicted and my desire for change seemed to be outweighed by the current lifestyle that I was accustomed to. For a couple weeks I tried to fight the urges and make a lifestyle change by myself; but I had no luck. Once the boredom or loneliness set in and it appeared there was nothing else I could do to occupy my time, marijuana was my go-to fix and I knew it would always be available. After trying and trying to quit, I realized I didn’t have the power to overcome this by myself, so I turned to God. He created me, so surely he knew what to do about this.
I learned through IRON & FIRE that God communicates through prayer and his word. I began praying more often and spending my mornings in the Bible looking for answers. After a couple of weeks went by doing this and meeting with my brothers in CORE 2:42, I was reassured that God has better things for me than some plant. He eliminated my desires that came with boredom and loneliness. Now I have the reassurance that he set on my heart, that he died to give me a full life, and that I need to use my time and money for better things.”
“My name is Tony King and I am 23 years old. Two years ago I got a phone call from my dad who told me he was leaving my mom, after what seemed to be 21 years of a perfect marriage. I had just about every emotion flowing through my mind in all of 30 seconds. How could the one person I looked up to as a kid throw away his family? As time passed, he would come back and say, ‘I’m changed and am going to come back home…’ only to leave again. This indecisiveness tore my mother apart and left her more vulnerable.
After about a year of inconsistency, he came back for ‘good.’ They moved into a new rental home and essentially started over from scratch. Things looked great; they were both starting to go to church; they were both seeing a counselor; and they seemed to be happy with each other. In April of that year, I got married to my beautiful wife Lindsey, and it has been the biggest blessing any man could ask for. About a month after the wedding, my brother called me and told me that my father left again. This time I was enraged. All of the other times he left they separated but nothing really changed; but this time was different. This time my parents actually went through the divorce process and he will not be coming back.
After becoming a Christian, I always heard about guys having father issues and I never thought that would apply to me. No, my dad was not a Christian; but he was there for me to look up to as a child. He taught me to shoot guns, play sports, and how to treat other people. After my father left this last time, I kept telling myself that I no longer have a dad, just a father. It wasn’t until this Fathers Day that I realized I do have a Dad; and He is the one who put these trials in front of me and my family. He is the one who is molding me through the rough process of iron sharpening iron.
Understanding Gods fatherly love for me has been an issue I’ve dealt with ever since I became a Christian, until this fathers day. His redemptive spirit that I always read about and thought I understood now means something new. It means, not only does He redeem us from our sin and brokenness, He also redeems us as new children. To me, being redeemed as a child means I get to reestablish myself as a son. I realize now that I get to ‘relive’ my childhood and learn my new father’s way of life so I can someday be as much like him as possible. God is the best father anybody could ask for; and I now long to be like Him in every way.”
You can watch part of Andrew’s story by clicking here.
Andrew completed his undergrad degree in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in History and Education. A life-long athlete, Andrew enjoys anything involving sports, all major Atlanta sports teams, and cheers for Auburn Athletics, especially football. He also enjoys being outdoors, and watching movies.
Andrew says he feels called to disciple young men as they navigate their journey to find Christ and their identity in him. He looks forward to his opportunity with IRON and FIRE because of their mission to invest in the next generation. And it’s exciting for him to know that people are standing up to lead young men so that they are not left to the world’s influences. He hopes that his influence on the brotherhood would just be a drop in the bucket compared to the ripple effect Christ can create with IRON and FIRE. He is most excited about the Brothers in IRON and FIRE taking this vision to their schools and college campuses.
We’re excited about all those things too! Welcome Andrew!