IRON and FIRE Brings Andrew Collins on Staff!

Posted by in Brotherhood | June 24, 2013

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Editor’s Note: We’re so excited to welcome Andrew Collins to a full time position with IRON and FIRE! Andrew is our first hire from within our brotherhood. A recent graduate of Auburn University, Andrew was dramatically affected by IRON and FIRE’s college ministry, CORE 2:42, and the influence it had on his life. He’s been a staunch advocate for the necessity of brotherhood, specifically the opportunity to interact with mentors and peers while dealing with big issues such as confronting sin head on, what it means to be a man of God and a brother in Christ, and how to manage our close relationships.

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!

It’s Not All Fun & Games…

Posted by in Brotherhood | June 11, 2013

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Editor’s Note: But sometimes it is! Amidst the hardship, the hang-ups, the break-ups, the stresses of school and finances and family, and the reality of death and broken spirits, we call ourselves a brotherhood because we do life together. And this week, we got to have a little fun. A few of the guys rallied on a weekday in the summer and caravanned down to, “The Chophouse,” to watch the Atlanta Braves. The game was a lot of fun and invading the Varsity afterwards was only appropriate. Hope you’re enjoying the summer!

Some Graduation Photos

Posted by in Brotherhood | May 30, 2013

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Jeff Knapp: Don’t Sleep Through The Celebration

Posted by in Brotherhood | May 30, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Jeff has attended a lot of graduations over the years as the President at IRON and FIRE Ministries. He’s been in the stands cheering, and in the pictures congratulating, but never had the opportunity to turn the tassel himself. Until now. And while reflecting on what it means to graduate, with his own graduation from seminary looming, Jeff gives us some real insight into the value of celebration.

Graduation isn’t a day or an event; it’s a life-long process.

On Wednesday, I will walk in my own graduation ceremony for the very first time. My story includes a lot of bumps, bruises, scrapes, and screw-ups. One of those was dropping out of college 19 years ago.

I left high school early, by passing the G.E.D. test, and enrolled in college with a 10th grade education. I had only been in college for six weeks when I realized that walking out on the college placement exam to go to a Steely Dan concert turned out to be a really poor choice. What seemed like a great idea at the time severely affected my class assignments and landed me in the most remedial classes available. Since I failed the math portion of the exam, I was stuck in a math class that began with an introduction to the decimal point. On top of that, I had the wild idea that a full time job at Waffle House, making money now, was better than having to wait four years to move out of my mom’s house.

My idea of graduation at that time was very low; I viewed it as unimportant. I wanted to grow up fast and get on with living my life my way. I didn’t view the ceremony or the achievement as valuable, in fact, I thought I was pretty slick cause I would be making money and living the grown up life way earlier than my peers.

Fast-forward almost 20 years, and the guy who used to think graduating was a joke is now walking around the house in a cap and gown acting like he’s the guest of honor. I think I might have slept in them if they didn’t get wrinkled in the process.

Now I get it. Now I understand the value of the graduation celebration. It’s not about the pomp and circumstance or the important speakers. It’s not about the turning of the tassel, the receiving of the diploma or the pleasing of the parents. No, it’s about the journey that it took to arrive here. It’s about the hardships you endured and the little victories that kept you going. It’s about the lessons learned outside of class as much as the ones learned inside. This graduation ceremony is more about the last 19 years than it is about anything I did in class.

Yes, I worked my tail off to get that degree and I can’t wait to receive it. But this ceremony is about all the graduations I forgot to celebrate over the last 36 years.

Life is a series of graduations. The question is, “Were you invited, or did you sleep through the celebration?” Nothing in life that is endured and learned is void of a reason to celebrate. A very good friend of mine once explained how we often train and fight really well, but do a terrible job of resting and celebrating.

The truth is, you’ve graduated from the school of hard knocks; your G.P.A. has awarded you the honor of valedictorian; and you’ve earned a master’s degree in being you. Have you ever celebrated it? Do you consider making it through the terrible twos without strangling your kids, a graduation worth celebrating? How about getting your driver’s license, or losing 20 pounds? Do you view persevering through a failed adoption or a divorce as celebration-worthy?

What you believe about the things you’ve graduated from will greatly determine whether you celebrate them or just skip out early and go to Waffle House. Don’t quit and miss hearing your name called. You’ve worked too hard to miss the celebration.

Everything in your life has joined together to knit you into an amazing specimen of value and purpose. You have graduated from some of the hardest schools in the world. Do you understand how valuable your experiences have made you to the ones who have yet to walk that path?

I do.
Jeff Knapp

Heroes Don’t Get to Take Days Off

Posted by in Brotherhood | May 27, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Today, while many of us are relaxing and enjoying our freedom, soldiers are serving, fighting, or even dying to protect it. Some of them will never see another memorial day. Fewer still will have the ability to enjoy this day without thinking of fellow soldiers who paid the ultimate price. Memorial Day is especially hard on the grieving family members who are still paying the price of having their loved one taken away for the cause of freedom.

All across the world, brave Americans are on guard so we can take the day off. They are losing sleep and even their very lives in order to grant us the blessing of a relaxing day at the lake. This country isn’t free by choice, by vote, by victory, or by chance. No, this country is free by hardship and death. God has blessed this country for sure, but it has not come cheap. Great men and women, who chose to give themselves away to the cause of liberty and freedom, have paved the road for us that leads to peace. Let us honor them today, through prayers and parades, and make sure to enjoy this extremely expensive freedom.

Never forget that on any given day there are people on guard so you don’t have to be.

Anonymous: Jolted Reality

Posted by in Faith | May 20, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Our first anonymous post, Jolted Reality deals with the pain and inner struggle we all face to varying degrees. Thanks to our brother for baring his heart and encouraging us with the empathy and tender words of encouragement for anyone else who has found themselves in the clutches of numbing depression. It’s true after all, at some point in our lives, we all just need to feel something.

“I’m standing alone in the shower as the hot water is washing over my body and my mind is flooding with old memories of past mistakes. It’s always around this time of night that I feel like I just can’t handle life. I want to be the nice, happy boy that I pretend to be on Sundays, but I just can’t find the strength to manipulate my life/mind Monday through Saturday to conform to such a reality. Why is it that every night around this time I find myself thinking of suicide or more practically, how to simply feel something.

Every night at that point in my life I would crave affection and love. What could it hurt for someone to just say that they love me and mean it? I had no answer for that. It caused me to dive deeper and deeper into depression where suicide was on my mind and my body was in a state of constant numbness. This numbness drove me to experiment with cutting. What a simple thing. All it was was taking a sharp blade and moving it back and forth along the skin. What a feeling it gave me as I would see the red blood pouring out of my flesh like a geyser gushing from the ground. For a week I could feel something. Even though it was pain, I could still feel normal. That was all I wanted.

I would cry at night alone and pray to an invisible God who never seemed to change anything. I thought to myself, is this really what my life was meant to be like? Was I meant to be sad, lonely, and depressed for the rest of my life? Is this what it will be like at the end of my life?

BUT GOD! These are my favorite two words to be put together. And this is where God decided to show up in my life. You see, I was trying to live my life my way, for my pleasure, when I should have been seeking God’s plan for my life. Because it really is not my life! God simply gives me a chance to play in the game.

As I began to bend my knee towards Christ and His love, I started to understand why I was sad and lonely all the time. I was sad because I did not truly know my savior. I was lonely because I did not have Him as a friend. I went through this trial in my life because He wanted me to. He uses this story in my life to encourage those around me. He let’s me share His love to others because He gets the glory for it. If this is God’s will then who am I to backtalk God? I am nothing.

I know that you who are reading this story might be going through a tough time, and you really don’t want to hear about God’s plan for your life. I understand what it is like and I know how you feel towards God. The anger and isolation you feel from the world. Like you are no good and that you don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Let me just say that you are right. You and I are nothing in the grand scheme of things but God is. We cannot change the world but God can! We have nothing to offer Him but God chooses to use us! He uses our weakness so that He gets the glory because this world is all about him!

I do not write this story so that you feel bad about yourself; but I write this story because I want you to know that you do not struggle alone! You are not the only one being told lies by the devil and believing them! We are a band of brothers who must come alongside each other to build each other up for His glory. Let me encourage you to talk with a brother in Christ about where you are in life and how you hurt. Because when we are at the end of our rope, we find the Cross of Christ! It is at the Cross where we find rest, peace, comfort, joy, fulfillment, and Love! That is where true healing comes from, at the foot of the cross.”

Anonymous