Category Archives: Faith


Jacob Martin: The Obsession With Dating

Posted by in Brotherhood,Faith,Temptation | February 25, 2014

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Editor’s Note: Young Jacob Martin graces us with another post, this time on dating relationships. He explains his own decision to wait until he is older to pursue a dating relationship, and raises some great questions about motivations and consequences. The relationship he has with his father is what really stands out, however. The strong, guiding presence of a thoughtful male role-model and father figure is so obvious in Jacob’s life and in his writing, that this piece is encouraging and refreshing in a world that lacks that very thing. Thanks for speaking your mind Jacob; and thanks to your dad for being an open book and willing to go there when you need him to.

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. 10 Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the LORD your God?’ My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets.”

Micah 7: 7-10

In our day and age, even as young men, the obsession with dating has reached an unprecedented level. Nowadays you rarely meet a middle-schooler who hasn’t “dated” anyone. These so-called dating relationships last a few weeks to a month or two at most. Now, personally, I believe, and this is my opinion, that when you can drive someone somewhere and then go eat or go to a movie and then drive them back to their house, that is a date. The word dating doesn’t implicitely include make-out sessions, sex, or total exclusivity, by any means. But these relationships almost always end in anger, heartache, broken friendships, and two people who are worse for wear. And that’s just middle-school.

Then you move to high school relationships, where it is worse. These relationships are almost solely based on physical highs and emotional entanglement with flimsy boundaries that are easily exploited. I’ve read stats that only 2% of high school sweethearts get married. I believe this is due to most dating relationships being based on infatuation or puppy love. On top of this, I bet if you ask a friend in a relationship what their goals are or why they like that person, they will stare blankly back at you or say they have never thought of that before. My dad challenged me to set goals in my relationships with people, especially girls, and especially when I start dating. In my opinion, I don’t feel like dating is a smart idea until about freshman year in college. This doesn’t mean I’ve never liked a girl or had feelings for one before; I have just seen where these young relationships lead: decreasing grades, obsession, and usually gradual seclusion from friends and family. This is not healthy for anyone, especially a maturing Christian man, so I have resolved to not date until later in my life; because at this point, I don’t see the wisdom in it at such an early age.

At this point, I have never kissed a girl. I feel like it gets you too emotionally entangled with her and leads to other, more risky things. Some words of wisdom from a friend to me were that kissing leads to babies… meaning that once you open that door, you put yourself on a downward slide of more compromising behaviors. I am lucky to have such a wise and Godly father who has been able to guide me down this winding road and has set me up for success to avoid the same traps that he experienced, and I am forever greatful for that. I have been fortunate enough to read books by great Christian authors on dating by Biblical standards as well as on girls and what they want deep down inside. These have given me a different perspective on what God wants and what girls want. At times I feel like I am hopelessly alone in my convictions and wonder if I am doing the right thing; but I am continuously encouraged by older men’s stories, along with young men in college, encouraging me keep up my resolve.

It may sound like I am against dating, but I am most definitely not. I just feel that before you fall head over heels for a girl and start dating, just because she makes you feel good and is hot, you need to take a few weeks or even a month or two to let the infatuation wear off and pursue a friendship instead. This doesn’t mean you can’t like her; it just means that you should make wise decisions. When you do finally begin to date, make sure to set clear goals and boundaries and never throw your relationship with God to the wayside. Also, try your best to not fall into the trap of physical entanglement; because I bet if you ask your dad or one of his friends if they regret being sexually active or promiscuous in high school, every one of them would answer with a whole-hearted yes. It’s not worth a world full of heartache for a few moments of an emotional high. Again, I am not against dating in high school; I just encourage everyone to be very methodical in choosing a person and in beginning a dating relationship.

Jacob Martin

Stephen Jaques: Entitled to Greener Grass

Posted by in Faith | February 10, 2014

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Editor’s Note: Today we received a moving blog post from Stephen Jaques. It was written in the form of a confessional prayer, where he explains how he feels entitled despite knowing better and describes his frustrations. The exercise of writing down our thought process is so helpful because it helps us see exactly how we rationalize and justify our own selfish behavior without even realizing it. The piece concludes with a phenomenal piece of insight. Thanks for sharing Stephen!

Dear God,
Today I feel entitled. Yeah yeah, I know; that’s what they all say about my generation. They say it’s because we’ve been given too many “participation” trophies, too much praise, we’ve been coddled too much, and not challenged enough. Well regardless of whose fault that is, today I feel entitled.

I feel entitled to a great job, to lots of great friends who like to have adventures, to the good life, and a good wife, and the American dream. And if I have to wait for those things, could You at least give me a hot date and a championship for the “Dawgs?” Man, I’ve been waiting for a while now. I’ve suffered the pain of rejection and spent a nice chunk of my life on the outside looking in. Come on, please? I’m not asking for anything impossible here. You are God. You can do anything and You told me to ask. I’ve been waiting, man. I’ve even incorporated You into my wish-list. I really want this job to help the Kingdom flourish. I want the girl that’s beautiful and loves You. I’m not asking to live in Johns Creek. I’d just like to have enoughh money to go to some Georgia games and give to my favorite ministries. You know I’m not going to sell You out for the world. I’d just like to have You plus the world. I want the party on Friday, the date on Saturday, and church on Sunday. Come on, God! I’ve been in the field most of the day, and you gave the folks who showed up an hour ago the same as me? Why does it feel like everyone else got a balloon and I didn’t? Everybody else got a cherry on their milkshake; why didn’t I? We’re both equally undeserving; so why them and not me? Haven’t I been through enough disappointment to justify a few blessings?

Oh, what’s that You say? You have blessed me? It’s true. You did send Jesus to die for the salvation of my soul. That should be enough; but as long as You’re handing out bonuses, I want in on them! What have You done for me lately? Ah yes, You did provide my first car, not too long ago. But everyone else had one in high school. Oh, but that’s not it, You say? You’ve given me a life with two “cherries” on top? True, my parents aren’t divorced and my family isn’t “broken.” I come from a middle class family, putting me in the global 5%. I’m healthy, I’m talented, and I graduated with honors from the University of Georgia, which, when added together, is essentially a ticket into the global 1%. I’m a member of the most privileged demographic in world history; plus, You decided to save me.
I did get a milkshake with two “cherries” on top and yet I’m complaining about all the people sitting next to me who got three. To the world, I must look like a millionaire complaining he’s not a billionaire. Yet You still love me unconditionally. David McNeely preached about God asking him, “If you had a choice between having a brand new house without Me, and a rundown house with Me, what would you choose?” Well I want the nice house; but isn’t it true that who you share the house with matters more than the house itself? Plus, You’ve given me a good house. The problem is, I feel entitled to a great house. Can I be satisfied if You decide it’s better for me to have ‘good enough?’ You won’t cheat me, and You’ll always provide what I need to live. Do I trust that You alone are enough?

I know there’s nothing wrong with wanting or desiring all the things I wrote about; and I’m beginning to think the grass is often greener on the other side because I keep watering it. Maybe there’s a difference between desiring and deserving. I’ve crossed that line and I’m sorry, God. Please rescue me; because today I feel entitled.

Stephen Jaques

Jeff’s Ups and Downs

Posted by in Faith | February 4, 2014

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Editor’s Note: This isn’t a post where I’m going to go out of my way to sugar-coat anything. My steadfast belief is that God is at work and that statement is as close as I am willing to come to a disclaimer. This has been a tremendously difficult month for Jeff and Carrie and their family; and it’s worth re-capping in part for the sake of the readers who are concerned and also for the sake of our belief that telling our stories is important because we hope that their impact will exceed our expectations.

As most of you know, Jeff was struck in the eye by a firecracker on January 3rd and air-lifted to a hospital. Since then, he has seen many doctors and had several procedures in an ongoing effort to save his eye, and in the hope that his vision might eventually be restored. Currently, Jeff has very milky vision in that eye, which is very sensitive to light, and does not have full control of his eye-lid (an unforeseen obstacle that is staggering in practical consequence). What many of you don’t know is that the psychological effect of the trauma, and the ongoing burden of a highly uncomfortable life, is very difficult to manage, much less come-to-terms with. Fortunately, Jeff is a strong man and is married to a strong woman. Unfortunately, strength alone isn’t always enough to comfort us. Because our vision is so intimately tied to the way we process thought, in order to imagine the exhausting, confusing nature of Jeff’s injury, you must imagine feeling helpless as your brain struggles to regain its footing and forge new paths that once came naturally. What was once easy is temporarily more difficult; and the adjustment period (though try calling it an “adjustment” or a “period” to someone in the middle of it) is both frustrating and disheartening. And from a physical standpoint, the reality is that some things may never be as simple as they once were. Some things may be lost for good.

The most recent doctor’s visit brought some interesting developments. Jeff’s cornea appears to be healthier than previously anticipated, and he will be fitted with a membrane contact to replace the protective layer that was surgically attached to cover his entire eye in weeks past. His eyelashes are causing some problems and steps will be taken to ensure that they grow in the correct direction and don’t further irritate or hinder his recovery. Although concerned about a possible infection (a very real threat with dire consequences because of the eye’s proximity to the brain), doctors continue to take extreme precautions and seem hopeful that through preventative measures they can give Jeff the best possible chance of his eye surviving. They aren’t out of the woods yet, but every step seems to be forward. At that point, there are many surgical and medical options which become available. Until then, our prayers are for the eye’s survival and healing on its own accord.

Please join me in supporting Jeff and his family. Even the outpouring of love can be exhausting. Telling and re-telling the story and interacting with the endless stream of well-wishers is taxing and I want to recognize that fact. Never-the-less, our prayers are making a difference. Jeff reminds me of that fact almost every time we speak. And the folks who have come out of the woodwork to support his family financially by donating on the website have been some of his favorite stories to share. So I can say with certainty that, the generosity and rapport from his community is overwhelming in good ways as well.

Jeff’s spirits are up and down. I told him I expected it to be day to day; he said it’s hour to hour. So keep him in your prayers throughout the day. God’s up to something, and we know it; and I can’t help but wonder if he’s doing something in each of OUR hearts, without Jeff even realizing. We love you Jeff. You’re in good hands, between Carrie and the doctors and a God who knows pain and heartbreak first-hand. Feel Better!

Thank You Beth Bacall & 104.7 The Fish!

Posted by in Faith | January 20, 2014

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Editor’s Note: First and foremost, we want to thank God for showing us a part of his plan that supersedes our understanding or foresight. We believe that he is good and that his good work will be done through us. Secondly, we want to thank Beth Bacall and 104.7 The Fish, for graciously giving us a platform to spread word of our President Jeff Knapp‘s injury and the ways in which the community can help support him and his family in his time of need. Over the last few days, the response from our community of believers, donors, friends, associates, family, and well-wishers has been absolutely astonishing.

Thank you from IRON and FIRE for supporting our President, the visionary behind this ministry. For regular updates on his status, please join this Facebook group. We will be posting an update on his progress on our own blog within the week to answer some questions about specific treatments and progress and to ask for prayer. Thanks again to Beth and The Fish and all of you who have rallied around us. God is certainly doing something in our hearts and can be felt in our midst. To him be the glory.

In case you missed it, this past week Beth dedicated her radio show to Jeff, and 104.7 The Fish was kind enough to share this post on their Facebook fan page, exposing us to an incredible community of believers.

Tune In to 104.7 The Fish Thursday Jan 16th, at 3PM

Posted by in Brotherhood,Faith | January 16, 2014

Tune In Thursday

Editor’s Note: Please repost and spread this message. As many of you already know, our President, Jeff Knapp is recovering from a freak accident where he was struck in the eye by a firecracker. For updates on his condition, you can join the Facebook group: Pray for Jeff Knapp. He is currently undergoing treatment in Atlanta to attempt to save his eye.

Consequently, IRON and FIRE is attempting to reach as many people as possible to ask that you keep Jeff and his wife Carrie in your prayers and consider donating to help offset their medical bills. To our surprise and delight, we just received word that Beth Bacall, of 104.7 The Fish, will be dedicating the beginning of her show to Jeff, this Thursday, January 16th at 3:00PM! If you would like to tune in, Beth will be taking calls and we would love to see some support for Jeff because he’s meant so much to all of us. We’re all behind you Jeff!

Micah Mabe: How I Found Intimacy with God

Posted by in Faith,Temptation | December 24, 2013

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Editor’s Note: When I think of Micah Mabe, I am always encouraged by how brave he has become. Unafraid to face his own issues and ask tough questions, Micah has not only valiantly struggled with things some people refuse to even acknowledge, he has sought the support and council of friends and family, who have all shared in his victories and comforted him in defeat. Intimacy with God is something that is often mentioned and rarely practiced. We would all be wise to heed Micah’s example and take his advice. Thanks for sharing your journey!

For all of my life, I have longed to be loved. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been loved by my parents, friends, and God, throughout my life. He surrounded me with so many godly people; yet still, I was not always satisfied. Growing up in a Christian home and attending Christian private schools for most of my life gave me the tools to find God and know him more. Yet I longed for satisfaction in my life—I longed for love. Striving to be a good person, I sought acceptance and love in all the wrong places. Looking towards friends for acceptance, being the guy to take home to mom and dad, having a good Christian reputation, excelling in sports, and being loved by my parents (not for who I am, but what I have done), etc. were some of the things I thought would make me feel loved and happy. That was not the case, so I kept on searching.

Sure, I was a Christian. I prayed to God when I needed him or needed something from him, but I never fully embraced him for who he was. I knew he was my Savior, who had died for me and would forgive me of my sins, but I never fully experienced his love and grace because I never fully embraced him. Instead, I went to the world. I had numerous girlfriends, but could not find true love. Then I went to the internet and my iPhone, only to find a lust that would not only lead me astray from God, but would destroy my life and leave me broken and unfulfilled. Eventually, in the midst of my battles, I recognized the idols in my life, such as: baseball, friends, and my girlfriend—I had to give them up to God in order to glorify him and live for him.

I have been blessed abundantly and do not deserve the life that I have lived. Still, the question remained in my mind. “God, you have you given me the talent to play a collegiate sport, surrounded me by such godly people at a Christian college, given me a wonderful family, and placed a godly woman in my life… So why am I still on the internet lusting and ultimately looking for a satisfying love?” When times were tough, when I didn’t feel loved or accepted by my friends, family, girlfriend, or God, I would turn to lust. Afterwards, I would turn back to God in humiliation and despair, asking him, “Where are you?” I would pray constantly. I desperately wanted to experience a full, satisfying love. My family, friends, and girlfriend pointed me to a love that would satisfy, but I looked toward them instead. I finally realized that the expectations I put on my girlfriend, family, friends, and baseball, could only be met by God. I longed for my girlfriend to love me fully, but all she could do was love me as best as humanly possible. I expected satisfaction in a godly relationship despite our sin. I expected success and support throughout my life because I prayed and read the Bible, but I only got a taste of temporary satisfaction.

This search left me weary, burdened, depressed, and unsatisfied. I didn’t feel like myself. I had hope, since I had been pointed towards the answer, which was him all along. Yet I was just too selfish, angry, and doubting, because I couldn’t necessarily see him in all of this. I was broken… and that is where I found him—I found true love. Dealing with life issues as a couple, relationally and individually, my girlfriend and I decided to take some time apart from one another to focus on God. During that time, I realized that I had been living a life of me; but until I was fully broken, I couldn’t see my weakness and my need of, not just what God could do but who he is—Love.

I have been pure and abstaining from lust for almost two months now because I finally experienced His love. Through this search, I have found that that pure love can only come from God. As humans, we have unrealistic expectations that we place upon ourselves and others. Recently a sermon helped me realize that as humans we cannot measure up to such expectations—it is only in God that we can measure up (Matt. 11:30). When I looked to him in my brokenness, I finally realized my self-worth. It’s frustrating that it took me this long to realize that the answer had been right in front of me my whole life. But it was not until I was fully broken and sapped of my strength, from battling my flesh, Satan, and the world, that I lay there defeated, asking God to lift me up, carry me, and mold my life to His will.

By God’s grace, I finally found the answer to my prayers. An intimate, loving relationship is a “constant, selfless walk” with God. Previously, I had been lingering in my sin and then sprinting to catch up, only to find myself thirsty and out of breath. I would drink from the dirtiness of the world only to spit it back out; I would drain everything from from my friends, family, and girlfriend only to want more when they had nothing left to give. When I finally did find intimacy, it was by drinking of God’s word and actually applying it to glorify him and live in his will. Two verses that spoke to my blindness and brokenness were Mattew 27:45-46 and John 8:11. In Matthew 27:45-46, it says, “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

As I bawled reading this, I realized that it was not the physical pain which was too great for him (which I cannot even begin to imagine), but the loss of God’s presence in his life that was so crushing. Jesus lived in perfect intimacy with God and walked with God and lived every day of his life, not in his will but in his Father’s will, only to bear the weight of our sins on the cross; it crushed him spiritually as he felt the presence of God leave him. You see, Jesus longed for intimacy too; but it was not because of his sin, since he was perfect, but because of my sin that he sacrificed his life physically and spiritually for me. I was dead, but he made me alive; and I truly experienced this when I realized my brokenness. John 8:11 talks about the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned when Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” After all of the disobedience, pain, and hurt I have caused myself, my girlfriend, my family, my friends, and most importantly my God, I wondered how I could make amends and fix all that I have messed up. And that is the beauty of this verse. After so many years of lusting longing for an intimate love and destroying my life and the respect of so many others, I realized I cannot fix what I have done. Only He can.

When I read Jesus’ words, “Neither do I condemn you” I fell to the ground realizing how I don’t deserve this life God has graciously given me. I was overwhelmed with grace, love, and gratitude. I finally felt like myself. God redeemed my life and made me into a man of God. With that being said, I know I must constantly walk with God and keep watch of Satan. He has been banging on my door, verbally abusing me, and questioning my confidence, and has tempted me more now than ever; but that is the beauty of it. In these moments, God has shown himself to me even more and has pointed me back to him and enveloped me in his loving arms. Constantly praying, being in his Word, and applying it on a daily basis, has ended my search for a true, satisfying love. It is a daily struggle to live in his will and be patient and faithful, but it is through him that I am humbled in my brokenness, boast in my weakness, and love because he first loved me.

To conclude, I would like to thank Jeff Knapp and his ministry IRON & FIRE for being a huge influence in my life, my family for supporting me, encouraging me and loving me, Victoria whom I love and cherish and cannot thank enough for loving me, being there, and pointing me back to God, the French family for loving me as their son, as well as my accountability partners and those who have helped me in my struggles (Dave Hamilton, Rashad Gober, Malcolm Galwey, Kevin Hughes, my father, Jeff Knapp, Lee French, John Holland, Spencer Smith, Andrew Beck, Keith Rice, Scott Hoelsema, Chad Miller, and Victoria).

Micah Mabe