Cameron Washington: Working Out Your Faith

Posted by in Brotherhood,Faith | October 8, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Cameron Washington really rolls his sleeves up and explains to us the importance of working out your faith. He talks passionately about his experience on an orphanage in Africa and about realizing how easy it is to “gorge” yourself on grace. What a powerful picture. He also reveals that as his own weakness became more apparent, the Strength of God grew in his life. He concludes by remembering the words of James and advocating that we too work toward the joy set before us. Thanks Cam!

The gospel is a horrible sales pitch. You are asking men and woman from all over to give up worldly possessions, die to the life they live, and go on and sin no more. Why? We have a savior whose love is so much more radical, scandalous, and ridiculous, that it calls people out of the darkness and to a place of grace and mercy. But what happens after? What happens after the honeymoon phase is gone; after the high of salvation is seemingly distant and all of a sudden you feel as distant or even further away from God than you were before? After being a follower of Christ for 3 years, I’ve realized that the one thing that is so hard to do, is to stand when your burden gets big.

Even after being saved, I always found myself trying to walk the line of Do’s and Don’ts. And after every don’t I stepped into, I would come to Jeff with my tail between my legs, whimpering like a dog caught peeing on the cross. So much shame and guilt came out in each meeting because I kept going back to pornography, or found I was looking for acceptance from my friends, or based my faith on how much I knew about the bible and how I served God. There was so much pride and arrogance in my walk because I didn’t realize the extra work that needed to be done in my own heart. Being a Christian is hard and it takes work. Being part of Iron and Fire and being discipled by Jeff has shown me this. This past summer, I left for Africa on a mission trip. During one of the last meetings I had with Jeff, I came to him like the guilty dog and confessed and repented to him. This time he wasn’t so gentle with his rebuke and told me this, “Cam, you need to relax because you are a lot worse off than you think you are.”

With these words in mind, I left for Africa asking God what he meant. He quickly revealed idols that were rooted deeply into my heart. These idols were keeping me away from God’s grace and the deep relationship that I was longing for. The first week in Durban, my team and I worked in an orphanage camp. I was so humbled by how these children had almost nothing but had smiles and so much joy. By American standards, these kids had no reason to be happy; but they had life so they had every reason to be happy. This shook me to the core and then my sin was so apparent to me. I found so much worth in approval, how I look, what I did, and how I served, that my focus was taken completely off the cross. It took God sending me to the other side of the planet outside my comfort zone to show me this. This is where working out your faith comes in and this brings me back to my initial point. The reason why the cross seemed so far away from me, is that I let it stay small. I gorged on His grace and didn’t see that I was getting comfortable laying in the idols that I had unknowingly made for myself.

After coming back to the States, I picked up my promised cross. It was heavy because I saw my weakness when I went overseas. That said, this season has been full of new trials and it’s been extremely difficult. It also has come with new joys and a deeper relationship with Christ because as my weakness has become more apparent, His strength and grace have grown all the more. I can count it all as pure joy like James tells us in chapter 1. Just like Jesus saw the Joy set before Him, I too see the joy set before me. It is beautiful and so worth working towards.

Cameron Washington

Kevin Kubandi: I’m Not Afraid

Posted by in Faith | September 25, 2013

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Editor’s Note: There’s an internal struggle we all have as Christians between our fears and the promises of God. Kevin does us all the favor of laying them out plainly in lyric so that together we can recognize the reality of fear and the truth that overcomes it. As Kevin repeats the themes of God’s faithfulness and the strength he provides, it becomes clear that while our own bravery alone may not be enough to allay our fears, God’s presence provides us everything we need, including a peace that surpasses fear and transcends understanding.

I’m not afraid
even though I’m not brave. 
I can’t will myself through this. 
I don’t have all the answers. 
Lord I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or where I will be a week from now.
But I do know you are God.
I do know you love me.
I do know you have not forsaken me.
Even when things look the darkest, Father I know you are here.
Even when it’s hard to trust, you give me the strength to get through.
Lord I don’t know how,
and I don’t know when,
but I know you will.
I wish I could say I have awesome faith, but you give me the faith to believe and trust.
So I’m not afraid
because you are God,
Lord you are good,
you are present, even when I don’t feel it.
Your word, your promise, trumps my emotions.
For God you are faithful.
You are true.
You are with me.
I’m not afraid.

Kevin Kubandi

Teaser (Hint: You Need a Smart Phone to scan the QR Code!)

Posted by in Resources | September 16, 2013

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Editor’s Note: This week we’re providing a secret link to the website we’ve been building in an effort to become more transparent and intentional as an organization. If you have a smartphone, all you need is an app that can scan this QR code. The code is just a link to the website, which we will be covering in more detail in another blog very soon. For those of you who get a chance to check it out, please let us know what you think!

Stephen Jaques: The Cost of Being a Christian

Posted by in Faith,Temptation | September 9, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Having young men like Stephen Jaques, who are willing to struggle with scripture and its implications, is a testament to the brotherhood of IRON and FIRE and their dedication to living out their faith. Often, we find ourselves wishing that someone would step up and ask the difficult questions, even if the answers are hard to find and often harder to live with. Stephen isn’t satisfied with surface-level answers or expectations, and we shouldn’t be either. Thanks to Stephen for sharing a part of his journey!

“The Gospel is a simple message to grasp; and yet it also has huge implications and so much to say about living life that there is no way we can cover it all in one place. The gospel is multi-faceted and all of the implications should be considered; because, to just walk down one path repeatedly, would mean missing out on other aspects. For example, talking about freedom in Christ exclusively might lead to licentiousness – but not talking about it can lead to legalism. Today, and over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the cost of being a Christian; and this entry is about the cost, at the risk of downplaying the joy.

The closer I get to the Gospel, the more I realize that there are certain parts that are really unpleasant to act upon. Gospel Lite as Steve Brown calls it, is really easy to sell. The Gospel however, is impossible to sell. Everybody loves hearing about eternal life, free grace, and all the other wonderful things about Christianity. But nobody wants to hear about being hated for being a Christian. Nobody wants to hear about living a step or two below your means so that more of your resources can go to the needy. They’d rather hear about God blessing people with prosperity. And I don’t blame them.

When you grow up in the church like me, it’s really easy to start thinking in a bubble because you lived in a bubble. John 17:14-16 is the foundation for the phrase being in the world, but not of it. It’s one of the greatest challenges we face as Christians. It’s really easy to be a Christian when your life is spent living in Christian fortresses like mine. Inside you have to deal with things like self-righteousness, but nobody thinks you’re stupid for being a Christian. Nobody laughs at your decision to wait until marriage to have sex. Nobody assumes that you are intolerant. And nobody makes you feel uncomfortable when you talk about Jesus. But after some time at UGA, I came to the realization that the Christian was never intended to live in the fortress. They’re meant to live in the world; to be salt and light. And that’s costly, and difficult, and requires a lot of grace, because it’s really easy to become of the world, and not just in it.

I worked at Snelling Dining Hall for three years during my time at UGA. Originally, I was just there because I needed the paycheck; but eventually, I made a lot of friends among my co-workers and began hanging out with them during my senior year. Through these friends, I met a girl and we hit it off at the beginning of the spring semester.

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Work Hard Play Hard

Posted by in Brotherhood | September 3, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Over the last two months, we’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means to be a part of a brotherhood like IRON and fIRE. Aside from the expectations of honesty and supporting one another, we discovered that in part it means working together and playing together.

Pictured above, some of our brothers participated in a service project a few weeks ago, and more recently got together for a night of Football Food and Fire to kick off the 2013 season. The special kind of bonds that are created when working and playing become really important as our young men graduate, find employment, and figure out that these relationships will enrich and add stability to their lives as they begin families of their own. We’re glad to create and participate in these opportunities to grow closer to one another and enjoy this season of our lives.

Andrew Collins: Power of a Man (Event Recap)

Posted by in Brotherhood,Faith | August 27, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Andrew Collins relates a telling story of adolescent elephants, shared at the Power of a Man Breakfast this past Saturday. He then challenges fathers and recaps the discussion provoked at the event. Jeff Knapp and Micah Mabe were able to join him and participate in a question and answer session that truly blessed everyone in attendance. Thanks to Perimeter Church for extending the invitation for us to partner with them in forging the next generation of fathers.

Forging the next generation of fathers. This is not only the heartbeat of IRON and FIRE, but should also be the heartbeat of all men.

In a small region of mid-Africa, there was a huge problem with the over-population of elephants. This problem led to destruction along the countryside. The people in this area decided to take care of the problem by killing all of the bull or older male elephants. This would obviously decrease the population directly due to no re-population. Now, one thing you need to know about Bull elephants is that they are kicked out of the herd when they become adolescents. And when they are kicked out of the herd, they usually go and find a bull elephants to follow. During this following process, the adolescent elephants learn about everything it means to be a bull elephant.

So, as you can imagine, when there were no more bull elephants to follow, the adolescent male elephants started to form gangs. In these gangs they had to make up what it looked like to be an older bull elephant. The gangs of adolescent elephants started to destroy villages and killed many people. After a lot of scientific research and attempts to resolve the growing problem, no one was able to stop this gang of elephants until an old chief in the area told them to find an older bull elephant. They airlifted an old bull elephants from southern Africa to this area. They waited for about two weeks and then suddenly spotted the older Bull elephant walking out of the woods with every single adolescent elephant following him. The villages never had a problem again.

That is the unique hardwiring that God has given to men to have extreme power and influence.

This is a story from a breakfast IRON and FIRE just partnered with Perimeter Church to put on called, The Power of a Man. We as men have been given a unique gift and responsibility to use our power in teaching, correcting, exhorting, and encouraging. The statistics and exhaustive evidence is glaring about what happens when men either remove their power or use it negatively. There are certain things that can be said by men that carry a different weight because they are a man. Power is most offend gauged by its effect when it’s gone.

IRON and FIRE got a chance to take a lead role in this event by having Jeff and Micah Mabe, a brother of IRON and FIRE, answer questions on a panel. It was a great time of discussion and feedback about the struggles young men face today. The panel was very helpful in fleshing out certain practical issue about the power a man has and ways to live that out. The breakfast also showed one of our video about Micah’s story and it was extremely impactful. Not only because of the honesty of his story, but also because of the connection it made between him and his dad.

IRON and FIRE loved getting the chance to partner with Rick Johnson and Perimeter Church in forging the next generation of fathers. We also loved getting to speak with and partner better with the fathers who were there and continuing to encourage them in the responsibility they have as fathers. It was a great day of putting an end to the evil one’s lies and standing up for who we are, as men in Christ. May men put to death any generational sins that have been left by past fathers and cling tightly to a new identity, a man that is identified in Christ – because that man has power.

Andrew Collins