Yearly Archives: 2015

We’re truly a relational ministry [slideshow]

Posted by in Brotherhood | December 3, 2015

We’re a truly relational ministry

This means celebrating birthdays and graduations together. It means barbecues and lake days and late night trips to Waffle House. It means dealing with heartbreak and tragedy and death and divorce and struggle and addiction and doubt and battling fear. We are big on accountability and making time for one another – even during the darkest hours of the longest nights. We’re also big on celebrating our victories. Click below to see a window into that world…

Brotherhood slideshow from IRON and FIRE on Vimeo.

James Blain: Pain Has to Run Its Course

Posted by in Brotherhood | March 25, 2015


Editor’s Note: Many of you already know James. He’s the newest, full-time addition to IRON and FIRE’s staff; and his influence on our young men has been tremendous. In this telling piece he wrote, James talks about the elephant in the room: Pain. It’s easy for us to talk about how we will react when things become painful. It’s easy for us to ignore the likely pain our decisions can cause. And it’s difficult for us to see the benefits of pain and the role it can serve as a teacher. It’s harder still to admit that our own ability to reach someone can fall short. And sometimes, their own pain is the thing that can break through. James is no stranger to pain or to breakthroughs. Join me in reading this piece and thanking James for his insight.

“Someone once told me that pain is the best teacher and sometimes pain has to run its course; and if you interfere, you may keep a person from learning a lesson that only pain can teach. Why do I bring this up? Why is this relevant to IRON and FIRE? Well, I wouldn’t be here if pain didn’t run its course in my life. I was a rebellious, stupid, arrogant, and hurting individual; and I thought I knew everything. I took all my anger and pain out on many people but my parents caught the bulk of it. I verbally, physically, emotionally and in any other way disrespected them publicly and behind closed doors. I stole from them; I cursed them; I fought them; I told them I hated them; and even through all that, they never gave up on me. They tried everything they could think to do to help me. But when it got so bad and they had tried it all, they did what most parents couldn’t; they handed me over to my pain. They trusted the Lord enough to let him do what they couldn’t. Looking back on all that took place to get me where I am today, I now understand what “pain has to run its course” really means.

When I first came to IRON and FIRE, I was thrown into the lions’ den, so-to-say. I took over the group of seniors in high school and was surprised, to say the least, at the way I was accepted. I’m young, have long hair, a beard, tattoos, a cool story, etc.–High school kids should like me, right? Wrong. They hated me. I sat in that group for about three months quietly watching them interact with each other and joke around. Any time I spoke up, they would glare at me silently as if I just completely disrespected them. It was brutal, and trying for me because I’m the type of person that wants to be liked by everyone. The longer I sat there, the more they realized the I wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t tell you exactly what changed but something gave, because they began to get serious and share things with me that they wouldn’t dare speak of. Not to toot my horn but they love me now. When they see me, they’re excited to see me; and when I speak into their lives, they listen and are thankful for me.

I see some of myself in these guys and I want so badly to help them. The last thing I want is for these guys to go through what I went through. But if there is one thing I’ve learned, the last thing they want to hear is “don’t do this, don’t do that.” What they really need is for me to be transparent about my struggles; they need me to pour my crap on the table and show them how much I need Jesus because it makes them feel like its ok to screw up; its ok fall short. It’s not about messing up and falling short; it’s about confessing it to your brothers and to Jesus and then letting each other know we’re forgiven. One of the hardest lessons that this group teaches me is that pain has to run its course. Pain is a better teacher than I could ever be; but when that pain comes, I’ll be there. I’ll be there to comfort and love because that’s what brothering is all about; that’s what doing life together is all about. Jesus didn’t die so that we don’t feel pain; he died so that we could fight our way through it with the hope that one day we will be with him.”

James Blain