Category Archives: Faith


Adam Hart: Rescue Me Captain

Posted by in Faith | March 4, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Don’t let Adam’s light tone at the beginning of this piece deceive you. He’s no stranger to the darkness and boldly reminds us of Psalm 34:17-20. Thanks to Adam for his brass and strength while relating his struggles with self-hatred and reflecting on how hard it is to actually give your anger and words to God. Lives are valuable. Relationships do matter. And anger can be weakness masquerading as strength.

“To a younger Adam,

Hey, me. It’s me… you!

In order to avoid the confusion of how I’m able to defeat the time space continuum and give you a letter, I’m just not going to explain it and hope you don’t flip out over the sci-fi nonsense (that you tend to look way too deeply into anyway).

At this point in your life, I know you’re getting picked on severely. You might have just come home from school and you might be crying to mom, hoping to seek comfort for what those bullies have said to you. Because of them, you will fall into a severe state of self-doubt, self-deprecation and self-hatred. I’m afraid you will get tangled within a twisted love of loneliness and feel like it is the only thing that can give you comfort. You’ll want to be alone with your thoughts and you won’t want to go back to school and risk giving people more motivation and reasons to dislike you.

You don’t know it yet Adam, but there is something growing inside of you called anger. This anger is the reason why you’ll yell at your parents, your friends and yourself. You will be disgusted by everything and it will be the reason you become more cynical every day. And when you feed this anger, it will feel absolutely amazing. When you see those people that despise you, you will yell at them and hope that you’ll be able to hurt them in some small way. But sadly, your words will be the cause of your own demise (metaphorically).

Every day your anger will become stronger and you will learn new ways to hurt people with your words. But unfortunately, you only think you’re becoming stronger, when in fact you’re becoming weaker; and you’ll miss the fact that there will always be a bigger enemy. Adam, there is no worse bully than yourself. You are the reason you still haven’t broken free of your struggle with self-hatred. You are the one that so willingly sits and listens to the lies Satan whispers into your ear. The devil has such a tight grasp on you that you will have no idea where to go. You will yell to God, “Rescue me captain, I’m at war with my demons!” And God will come and rescue you; but you must give all your words to him. It’s easy for me to write that; but deep down, giving up your own anger and your own words will be the hardest thing you will do in your entire life.

I know you have a hard time connecting with other people. But everything on this earth was created to help make our lives easier. There must be a reason for people building and creating things to give our lives more ease. The reason is that life is valuable. Yes that’s an incredibly cliché statement that embarrasses me to type. But people will become more and more important to you, to the point where you write stories and tell jokes on a stage for them as your career. You are a person and you are precious to people. It’s hard to read that, I know because we have had such a hard time believing it; but I guess I wouldn’t write it if I didn’t have some kind of preconceived motivation. I can’t really give you any advice other than this verse:

Psalm 34: 17-20
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

Adam, your relationship with God and other human beings is more important than anything in the world. Even grammar.”

Sincerely,
Adam

Jeff Knapp: When You Hit Empty

Posted by in Faith | February 19, 2013

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Editor’s Note: The world will never know the full weight of the work Jeff Knapp shoulders without complaint. A true disciple, he wrestles with the greatest truths and works tirelessly to impart them to our youth. It is encouraging to hear Jeff open up about the times when he hits empty and relies on God to fill him up. His thoughtful reflection on a recent Solitude Retreat and the lessons he learned are well worth your attention.

I believe the children are our future. And this isn’t just a play on words to remind you of an old Whitney Houston song. I really believe it! I believe it so deeply that I pour myself out, sometimes past the point of exhaustion, in order to invest in them. However, sometimes the pouring out seems to come from a shallow well, while other times it seems to be a roaring waterfall. This past weekend, I was blessed to discover a waterfall.

Back in December of last year, I was approached by a friend at Perimeter Church who invited me to be the guest speaker at their annual Solitude Retreat. This retreat is only for high school students and focuses on getting students away from the distractions of their regular environment and taking time to be alone with God. I said yes without any hesitation. This was an opportunity to not only impact the Brothers of IRON and FIRE who would go on the retreat, but also to impact their peers. This was also a great opportunity for partnering with the local church in order to support her in one of the intentional ways she is forging the next generation.

Little did I know that this would end up being one of the greatest challenges and blessings of my life to date. It started with preparation…

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Greg Robbins: The Disgusting Lies

Posted by in Faith,Temptation | January 21, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Greg, like many deep thinkers, has struggled with doubt and self-worth, and has written a lengthy post taking us through his journey of claiming the truths of God, in spite of the deeply entrenched lies of the evil one. The sincerity in his voice is evident throughout as we relive his anguish and struggles in fighting against his old mindset as he becomes a man of God.

“It is now winter break, and since spending time as a brother of IRON and FIRE over the summer, a lot of things have happened in my life. Though I have done things that I am not proud of, God still, over the last few months, has worked on me greatly in growing me away from my fearful flesh and more into a man of God. I am learning to trust and receive His love and truth and to fight as the warrior He created me to be in The Spirit, adding onto what He did in me over the summer as a brother of IRON and FIRE and what He has done throughout my life. 

Here is a little about where I came from, before I started doing community with Iron and Fire. All throughout my life I have greatly struggled with very heavy amounts of fear, insecurity, constant doubting of almost everything, a misplaced self-identity, and a lot of anxiety, stress, worry, self-hatred, and confusion. Much of this came from a rocky childhood in which my biological father left me at an early age. Though my mother got remarried a few years later, and my step-dad adopted me legally as his own son and treated me like it, there was a lot of damage in me that was never resolved, and which has carried into my life even until today…

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Kevin Kubandi: You Don’t Have To Prove Anything

Posted by in Faith | January 7, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Don’t let the brevity of this letter blind you to the immense truth Kevin bestows upon his younger self. An entire life can be changed in half a sentence and Kevin gives enough advice in this single paragraph to pull most kids through some pretty challenging years unscathed. Thanks to Kevin for condensing his advice into a powerful piece we’re pleased to share.

Dear younger me,

I didn’t know how to start this letter so I’m just going to jump into it. Please live every day like there’s no tomorrow. Treat people better than you would treat yourself. The loudest voice in the room is not the wisest. Listening will get you further in life than arguing. Listen to your farther. You don’t have to prove anything to him; he corrects you because he loves you. Never stop showing your sisters you love them; they might not always acknowledge it but they love you more than you know. Work hard at everything you do. God has given you a gift so don’t waste it. Honor your mother. As much as you think she loves you, she loves you even more. The sport you play does not define you. The parties you go to don’t define you. The girls you date don’t define you… You are who God says you are. So read your bible and find out what he says about you. Treat the girls you date like you would want your sisters and mom to be treated. Value your family and friends and don’t just say you love them, show them. Don’t sell out. You have a dream; hold on to it, no matter what other people say to you.

Hey, you’re going to make mistakes. Admit them and get back up.

KEEP FIGHTING, LIVE FOR CHRIST, AND HONOR YOUR FAMILY.

You’ll be alright kid. You’re a fighter. Plus God’s got your back… Be blessed.

Kevin Kubandi

Stephen Jaques: A Prince Is Proud but Not Vain

Posted by in Faith,Temptation | January 1, 2013

Editor’s Note: Stephen has written a really powerful post for us to kick off this new year. He starts with light-hearted advice to his younger, more awkward self, and slowly delves into the heart of the things that he will be at risk of in high school and college. He gives excellent advice concerning the opposite sex and in fighting against idols. And he ends the piece with a powerful reflection on what it means to be a Prince. Thanks Stephen; you give us all hope and a clear path toward claiming our inheritance in God and stewarding it well.

To a younger me,

I know you. Right now you have just finished 8th grade. In a month you will turn 15 and in 3 months you will start high school. I’ve almost forgotten how naïve and socially awkward you were. The struggles you are going through still impact me today. I have so many things that I wish I could tell you but I will try to boil it down. I’ll divide it into spiritual and non-spiritual stuff.

First, the non-spiritual. Ditch the jean shorts. Get rid of them! Burn them and forget you ever wore them haha! Also, wear shirts that fit, not too bulky or too tight. You have several important places to make friends (senior high youth group and high school) and dressing well will help you avoid looking like an awkward homeschooler. Don’t judge others by their appearances but understand that people will judge you by yours; so go buy some polos and khakis and a decent pair of shoes. That said, always remember, it’s the man that makes the clothes, not the other way around. Don’t put your identity in your appearance.

I suggest learning the slang so you don’t get laughed at for not knowing the jokes and references. Learn the terms of your peers. Go catch up on your movies as well. You may have been raised in a cave, but now’s the time to start respectfully pushing some boundaries. Don’t make an idol out of parental approval.

And be excited! You have big things ahead of you! The cross country and track teams are going to be great experiences. Run hard. Be tough. Don’t be afraid to go out hard at the beginning of the race; you will be trained well enough to finish strong. Do not fear failure. Coach Clanton will be one of the greatest men you are ever around. Additionally, do your homework. I’m at UGA because of your self-discipline.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, get a different summer job than Publix. They’re nice people but they won’t give you enough hours.

I know you have some assumptions about how life will turn out. Let me burst one of your bubbles. Our family doesn’t have unlimited money; so if you want a car or some other big-ticket item, you better find a job that can pay for it. You go to a rich school but don’t expect everything to be paid for by Mom and Dad. It’ll save you some disappointment if you realize that now rather than a few years down the road. But be thankful for your comfortable life. God didn’t have to give it to you.

Speaking of comfort, get comfortable with yourself but also branch out. I know you can be quiet and you are not extroverted but please go talk to people. Seriously, be aggressive in pursuing friendships. Be friendly and don’t be afraid to cut it loose. It’s fun, I promise. You have to stop being so worried about whether or not people will judge you. Perimeter’s youth group will be the hardest place you ever have to break in. But it will be worth it. God is doing great things there; and you will meet some amazing people and have amazing opportunities to serve!

College is still a few years away, but I’m going to tell you a couple things about it. First, if it’s not the greatest four years of your life, don’t worry about it. After all, it would be depressing if the best times of your life were behind you when you graduate at 23. I know you will be burned out after working hard in high school, but don’t give up in college. Push through, get good grades, and find a couple organizations to join as well as places to serve. You’ll find a special place to serve the poor and disadvantaged, but don’t forget to serve where you live, work, and play. Once again, put yourself out there and meet people.

There’s one big thing I haven’t talked about yet. Girls…

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Barry Sutlive: The Author

Posted by in Faith | November 5, 2012

Editor’s Note: Barry has been a stalwart for our ministry for many years. A strong-willed young man, he has always stirred the best in the people around him and demanded a lot of himself. As a fellow disciple, brother, and friend, I’m happy to share some of Barry’s encouraging words on the importance of rest and our recognition of the author behind every one of our stories.

The mysterious grandeur surrounding college won’t go away until the day your parents drive off and you realize this is it. Life is a book and, as humans, we are always trying to get to the next chapter. The only thing keeping us from skipping to the end is the time that it takes us to read the pages. In middle school, one will always desire to walk alongside those in high school; and the only thing a senior in high school has on his mind is college; and each time we perceive that the next chapter will be better. But all to often we find ourselves turning back the pages to where we once were.

In each chapter of our lives as we attempt to plot our own destiny, we frequently forget that our story has already been written. When reading, many times one might find oneself skipping over sections deemed boring and unnecessary, forgetting the entire time that the author placed those parts there for a reason. If one could title the chapter of one’s life story regarding college, it would sound something like The Never Ending Sleepover. We all remember those rare hallowed Friday nights in which all your buddies would gather together for the sleepover. Generally, there was a division into about 5 or so groups during these nights. You had the kids who stayed up all night, the ones who played videogames till the break of dawn, those who just ran around seeking mischief, the uncomfortable kid in the corner, the binge candy eaters, and finally you had the one who always sought sleep. The same generalities exist in college today; mischief is sought and, “candy” binges carry on 24/7. But the question to ask is, when is it time to take a moment and separate yourself from the crowd and just rest.

More often than not I find myself veering away from rest. Rest can come in many forms; sleep is the most obvious, but others include moments of solitude and time spent in prayer. All too often, I find myself glancing over sections that I classify as unnecessary and time consuming when in fact, these are the parts that the author knows I need the most. The author of your story has written a best seller or two and knows what’s important and what isn’t. To leave you with one piece of advice, read the whole story. You might end up glancing over the part about the binge “candy” eating next time. And remember to thank your author because his story ended with the ultimate sacrifice for every book he has ever written.

Barry Sutlive