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Category Archives: Temptation
“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.”
I was living for myself, you know. I was my own god. In fact, my friends were my gods… and I worshipped them.
To learn more about Micah’s story, you can read his blog post here.
“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…Read more ›
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…Read more ›
Dear Younger Me,
You’re 15. You are running cross-country and making friends, but you are sitting under your brother’s shadow. God has a lot more in mind for you than you could ever dream. He is going to blow your mind – so get your boots on, and get ready for an adventure.
First things first. Recognize your enemy. At this point, you probably think it’s the guys wearing all black, dealing weed, or getting in trouble with the law. It’s not. As a guy who loves Jesus, your enemies are Satan, sin, and death. Scripture tells you that the thief comes to kill and destroy; so don’t freak out whenever the youth pastor starts talking about spiritual warfare. Just because mom and dad never talked about it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s real; and if you’re not careful, it can put you in a hole. Satan loves to take what’s God’s and keep it in a cage. Remember this: You are God’s son, a son of the King, who was paid for in blood. Blood is a result of battle; so don’t think for a minute that you aren’t in one. Every minute of the day you need to be ready to fight.
Here’s the short of it. I know you struggle with porn. I know you wish to God that it would go away like a bad dream. I know you cry sometimes, and can’t fall asleep sometimes, because you’re so disgusted with yourself. I know that you sometimes rationalize your addiction saying, “Well, it’s not the hard stuff. I’m not actually addicted. It’s not like I’m as bad as the other guys.” I know the shame, guilt, and grief you experience every time you close your eyes to God and open your eyes to lust. So, here’s what you need to know. Love and Lust start with the same letter. Why? Because the enemy takes love and twists it to become evil. You’ve got an addictive personality; and when I’m telling you that you need to fight every day, I mean you need to fight every day. Fight with the full knowledge and assurance that the battle is already won. The thing about love is that it’s different than lust, it has a name: Jesus. So, make war with your flesh and with the spiritual forces of darkness. Turn from death (cause that’s what your sin leads to) and run, run, run, to Jesus.
How are you gonna do that? Call your two best friends tonight and say, “brothers, I need to confess to you a problem I’m having. I can’t fight it on my own and I need you to keep me accountable.” Next, talk to dad. Tell him what’s going on and ask him to restrict your access to the computer. Pray every day, all the time, not only that God would continue to free you, but to renew your mind to see women as he sees them.
The next thing you need to know is that God is the one who saves, exalts, and upholds you. Who you are is not determined by how well you run, how well you play, how good a student you are, how well you listen to mom and dad, or how involved you are at church. You are a child of the King and all of life is a gift from him. What does that mean? It means you can say, “Thank you,” to mom and dad for taking such good care of you. It means you can run cross-country because you love it, not because you need to prove yourself. It means even your study time is a gift to be stewarded. All of life is a gift; so never stop thanking, praising, and exalting the Giver. It also means that you can quit living in guilt, fear, and shame.
God is the one who will lift you up; so don’t squander his gift. Pray. Pray that the Holy Spirit would fan into flame the ember that God put there when you said yes to Jesus.
The last thing I’ll say is to speak up. SPEAK UP! The world needs to hear what you have to say. Don’t ignore the voice in your head that tells you to reach out to the person sitting alone at lunch. Don’t ignore the voice in your head that tells you speak up about Jesus to your friends. Don’t ignore the voice in your head that tells you speak up about Jesus in class. Do ignore the voice that says you won’t ever succeed. Do ignore the voice that says you’ll never outgrow your brother’s shadow. Do ignore the voice that says that you’re too evil to save. And do ignore the voice that says that your identity is in what you do. Instead, listen to the voice of Jesus because it’s always the best way. Praise God that even your future is in his hands; and that even the flaws in this letter are covered by his Son’s blood.
Your Older Self
The next morning I woke up on a couch confused as to where I was. After a few minutes I recognized my friend’s basement where I had passed out the night before. My friends eventually showed up to make sure I was alright, but something was different about their expressions. I asked them what was wrong; and what they showed me on their phones and the report from the night before left me shocked, embarrassed, and numb. The videos showed me doing things I would never think of doing. And they informed me that one of the guys that spent the night stole the keys to my Dad’s car, got pulled over for a DUI, and that the car was impounded. Days later, I was in the police office being interrogated and was asked to recall what happened the night before. I didn’t even know where to begin because I drank so much alcohol that I passed out and didn’t remember anything. As I took it all in, I found myself looking at my Junior year in high school and asked myself, “How did this happen? Who am I?”
I grew up in a Christian home, was a member of Perimeter Church, and went to Perimeter Christian School until eighth grade. I attended Wesleyan School until my Junior year and spent the last two years in public school. I led a small group for a church retreat, mentored younger friends, and was a leader on my baseball team. I was living the dream, yet I longed to be free. Because on the outside I had everything together, but on the inside I was running in every direction trying to satisfy the need and pressure to please others and myself.
It started early my seventh grade year with pornography. As a seventh grader who was raised in a sheltered, Christian environment, sex was just an education…Read more ›