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Category Archives: Brotherhood
“Believe it or not, I am an introvert. I get my energy from being alone and when I am around people for too long I become exhausted. Maybe this is why I have such a hard time entering into true community with other people. Who knows? What I do know is that we were created and designed to have community with other believers. However, this is no easy task, especially for me. I have struggled from high school to college with having community with believers. It’s not that I don’t like people; I love people! The difficult part is opening myself up to others. Having to be vulnerable with others is something I’m not very good at. I love to listen to others and help them work through their problems. But when it is my turn to open up and share, I struggle. My thought is that I don’t want to burden others with darkness in my heart. I feel as if what comes from my tongue does not always have worth and that what I say will either weigh others down or will fall short of being encouraging. This is where I have to constantly look to God and His character.
God in his flawless, powerful, triune character is the ideal example of community in and of Himself. The Father is in perfect unity with Christ and The Spirit and they act as one to glorify themselves. It is in this that we can see that even God needs community and uses it to do His will. Each part of God is different. The Father is powerful, awe-inspiring, creator, designer, merciful and jealous. Christ brings characteristics like humbleness, servant hood, sacrificial, lord, and king to the table. And The Spirit is the one who guides, counsels, convicts, teaches, and reminds us of truth. These three persons work together in community as one deity. If I am to imitate this community, I have to learn a lot from the example that has been set before me.
I cannot continue in this life alone. I NEED Christ and I NEED his followers. I need to trust those who Christ has called to Himself. I need to be able to be vulnerable in order to show how He has given me grace and mercy so that Christ can be glorified. I need to seek the true community that has all kinds of people from all different types of life that live life together and use their unique gifts to create the body of Christ. I need to let Christ use my tongue to encourage my brothers and trust that He knows what they need to hear. I need to share my burdens as well as taking on my brothers’ burdens.
This is why Jeff Knapp and CORE 2:42 has been so influential for me. Jeff continues to tell me to use my tongue when I feel as if my words are worthless and encourages me in my strengths and tells me to trust Christ in my weaknesses. My brothers at CORE 2:42 force me to be vulnerable by opening up their hearts. Without these people I would not be where I am today. I would be still be searching for who I really am. But through this community of brothers who want to struggle and celebrate with me, Christ is exalted. And that is how it is supposed to be.”
“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.”
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!
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?