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Category Archives: Brotherhood
My story starts like a lot of other people’s story. I went to a Christian elementary and middle school and was raised in a Christian household. I was drilled on all the facts and what I was supposed to believe. I accepted Jesus into my heart at a young age and always knew what I believed, but didn’t really walk the walk. I went through public high school pretty much unscathed by the big bad world, mostly due to the fact that I was so afraid of getting in trouble with my parents and hurting my relationship with them. Once I went off to college, my world was flipped upside down. It was the loneliest year of my life. I literally didn’t have any friends, regardless of my attempts to meet new people. I thought something was wrong with me. I was lonelier that I had ever felt and for the first time my mind was consumed with thoughts of how to fit in.
It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I reconnected with an old friend from high school. He invited me to his apartment where I met his roommates. It wasn’t 10 minutes into my visit that I was smoking weed, getting high for my first time.
I ended up moving in with those guys, taking over my friend’s rent when he moved out of the apartment, and lived there for the next two years. It was all downhill from there. I found out real quick that I was not a drinker. It really just made me feel gross. This was really hard because both of my roommates drank to get drunk almost every night of the week and were constantly trying to pressure me into drinking. I felt like I needed to find my way to fit in; and I did this by smoking. I started out smoking weed here and there whenever someone offered it to me; but then it turned into me spending my own money on it. Fast-forward almost 2 years of living this sin. My parents literally didn’t have a clue I smoked; and I was confident that I would never get caught. For some reason (the Lord), at the end of my junior year, I felt like I wanted to tell my parents I smoked. I struggled with this thought for a few months until one late night while talking to my mom, I just told her. I was tired of living the lie. This was the start of a battle between me, the Lord, and the Devil.
I was completely brain washed. I believed that weed was all natural and therefore okay. I looked everywhere to find an answer that told me it was okay. I even went to the bible for an answer. This is where the Devil was really trying to get me. I read verses like,
Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:29-31
I thought, “Yes! I have justification that this is okay for me to do.” Unfortunately, there was a verse I found that I could not shake. It was,
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
This got me thinking; but not enough to make me want to quit.
My mom had told me to watch these videos on IRON and FIRE’s blog. I told her I would, with no intention of actually watching them. The next day I’m scrolling down my newsfeed on Facebook and there is Andrew Collins’ video. I watch his video, then the next, and before I know it, I had watched all six videos. After watching all the videos, I realized all the lies I was telling myself were not true. I was so brainwashed that I believed that everyone was doing it so that made it okay for me to do it. I felt like I was the only one out there that was trying to quit doing something that I really didn’t want to quit doing in the first place. It wasn’t until I decided to meet with Jeff that he totally opened my eyes to the sin that I was living within. He then invited me to be a part of IRON and FIRE.
Here I got to meet tons of guys. Some older and some younger, but we all had one thing in common. We were trying to make each other better by having fellowship together, spending time in the word, and praying together. IRON and FIRE has helped me to meet new friends that are Christians. When I first stopped smoking, one of my biggest fears was that I was going to be lonely again and boy was I wrong. In fact it was the complete opposite. I met new friends that were there to build me up and encourage me. I had really never experienced this type of friendship. This type of friend is called a brother.
The more time I put between that time of my life and now, the clearer it becomes of how I slipped into that life style. My biggest encouragement to someone reading this is: You need to have a reason to quit doing what you’re doing. Like I stated earlier, I didn’t really want to quit because I didn’t see the harm in it. I didn’t see how this was harming my relationship with the Lord and killing my potential to be all that I can be. It numbed my brain and helped me feel like I was “fitting in.” The first few weeks after quitting was the hardest because I had to quit using pure will power, instead of relying on the knowledge that it was sin. Once I believed that it was truly a sin and hindering my relationship with the Lord, I was able to lose the desire to smoke.
All in all, IRON and FIRE has been the biggest life-changer for me. It has helped me see who I really want to be and has refocused my life to the Lord. Now I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means, but I now have accountability and fellowship to help me work through my daily struggles and draw closer to the Lord.
“Where does brotherhood come from and what does it mean?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, Brotherhood is defined as:
1 the relationship between brothers.
• the feeling of kinship with and closeness to a group of people or all people: a gesture of solidarity and brotherhood.
2 an association, society, or community of people linked by a common interest, religion, or trade: a religious brotherhood.
• a labor union.
The word brotherhood has two parts, brother, and the suffix, hood. The word brother is defined as a male numbered among the same kinship group, nationality, race, profession, etc., as another; an associate; a fellow member, fellow countryman, fellow man. The suffix, hood, is added onto words to denote a state, character, condition, nature, etc. or a body of persons of a particular character or class. When put together the two mean a group of men joined together in a group.
So why have brotherhood? As humans, we are social by nature; we desire to be with other people. Brotherhood among Christians is a close connection with other Christian men. It’s a way for Christian men to help each other through life, face the hardships of life together, and sharpen each other through it. Proverbs 27:17 ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ This is the verse of our brotherhood; we are iron sharpening one another.
As Jeff has often said to us, the process of forging iron is a hard one. The iron must be heated and hammered, sparks fly, and the metal bends under the force of each blow. At the end of the painful process, a beautiful work of craftsmanship is completed. That is what we do in the brotherhood of IRON and FIRE. We are there for each other in the tough times; but we also sharpen each other, holding each other accountable and saying things that sometimes hurt, in order to become the fine pieces of craftsmanship that God intends for us to be.
For me, the journey of brotherhood began my freshman year when I first started in a small group with Jeff. We started with six brothers, adding a seventh my sophomore year. This band of brothers helped me through many tough times in my life: struggles in faith, relationship issues, poor decisions, and many more. I can’t imagine how different my life would be without this group of brothers. It wasn’t easy at times; as I said before, it can be a hard process. It hurt when they pointed out my flaws and when they called me out on my wrongs; but that’s not all they did, they were healing as well. They were there to pick me up and say, ‘You screwed up big time brother. I love you; now let me help you heal.’ These guys were there for me when it counted. The journey of life is tough. You need people around you to help keep you strong and keep you on track; those are your brothers. This is brotherhood.”
“I have never really felt like I’ve been great at being manly. That is not to say that I am not manly; it’s just, often when I think of manly activities, I think of lumberjacks chopping down trees, building projects with your own two hands, benching 400 lbs, fixing cars, etc.. Yes, I do realize that my idea of manliness is extremely one-sided; but so is yours; and these are the first things that I (and maybe even you) associate with being a man.
Manliness has been incredibly skewed by our sinful nature; and as a result, we have created an army of physically strong, dominating, uncompassionate little boys who think they are acting like men. This is one of the trends that IRON and FIRE is trying to buck; but cultivating true manliness is hard because it goes against the flow of common culture.
This is why Jeff is devoting all of his time to molding young men to be more like Christ. Many think that being like Christ is not manly at all; but they could not be more wrong. He is kind and compassionate; but he is also strong in power. He shows spiritual strength and loves unconditionally.
The reason I have been thinking about these things recently, is because I just got engaged, and this is where the rubber meets the road. This is the time that I must take all that I have learned, in terms of being a man, and apply it to being a husband and eventually a father. This is why people like Jeff are so important in young men’s lives. He has shown me, through Christ, aspects of what it is to truly be manly. He has shown me that strength not only comes in the form of physicality, but that a true man also has strength in terms of intellect, integrity and most importantly spirituality.
Although Jeff has played has played an important role in molding my idea of manliness, the person that has most shaped this idea, like most other young men, is my dad. My dad is kind, funny, strong in character, gracious, and loving. He has shown me that manliness must be shaped around the characteristics of Christ and Christ alone. He has shown me that a household that is centered on the Gospel is one that stands strong on a steady foundation. Does he fail in being a father? Of course he does. He isn’t perfect; but he goes to the one who is perfect so that Christ may be exalted. This is true manliness.
Young men, adapt the characteristics that exemplify Christ, which you have seen in those who pour into you. They can be hard to spot sometimes under the layers of faults; but, if you strive to know Christ, they will be evident. Mentors and fathers, you will fail your sons and those who you mentor. It is only how you react to those failures that will show whether your character and identity is in Christ. And if you find your character and identity in Christ, that is when you can give the greatest gift you can give to a young man; a picture of Christ, a picture of true manliness.”
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.
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.
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.