All posts by Brotherhood

The Unappreciated

There comes a time in everyone’s life where all their efforts seem to be failing…

There comes a time when nothing seems to work out despite our valiant efforts…

There comes a time when disaster strikes those closest to us that do well, while the wicked live on and prosper…

There comes a time when leaders will abuse their authority, slander & lie, promote mediocrity, and allow certain individuals who “fall in line” to break the rules while they discipline those who do what is right with the most rigid and harsh results as if to say “Look what doing right will cost you”…

There comes a time when, we work our entire life only to be struck down by illness right as we near retirement…

There comes a time, when we begin to walk with God, and many of our relationships fall apart and they view us as hateful and prejudiced despite all of the love we have for them…

There comes a time when our efforts & accomplishments are stolen by others and they even receive recognition for their theft as the originators of the work…

There comes a time, when our spouse turns cold and demands a divorce despite all we do to reconcile…

There comes a time in our lives when we feel lost, abandoned, and unappreciated…

When one pursues righteousness, confesses their sins openly, and cares deeply for others; one would reason that they would be valued…

What then can we do when these trials and tribulations come?

Are we to give up hope as the world seems to only reward those who agree with their values?

Sadly, so many people choose suicide as the answer to their hopeless situation when in reality there lies a hope that cannot be taken from us…

Remember this: Values determine relationships….

What we value, what we cherish, what we know as sacred….

Those beliefs will determine our work ethic, our world view, and if we differ from the world we should be prepared for the storm…

Take comfort in the following words when the tribulations of this world come to our doorstep:

Jesus gave his disciples very specific and powerful instructions in the book of John. His words are for those who claim Him as Lord and Savior. This means we are disciples, which should be understood what responsibility we have and what hardships we will face as such:

“The term “disciple” is derived from the Koine Greek word mathetes, which means a pupil (of a teacher) or an apprentice (to a master craftsman), coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning a learner while the more common English word is student. A disciple is different from an apostle, which instead means a messenger. While a disciple is one who learns from a teacher, an apostle is one sent to deliver those teachings or a message” (Wikipedia).

As disciples, then we are learners, pupils, or apprentices to the ultimate master craftsman…

So why do we expect those who don’t share these same values as our Master to appreciate ours?

Should we be surprised?

On the contrary, we have forgotten our master craftsman’s words and may have slowly began to become an apprentice of the world instead.

When the world tells us that all truth is relative we know:

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).

When we face the trouble, trial, and tribulation we remember:

Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3).

IMG_6571.JPGWhen the wicked prosper and are rewarded for their efforts we remember:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and the He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (John 13:2-5).

One could write volumes on just these few mentioned scriptures but for this writing we should note that Jesus knew what He was facing (the crucifixion and God pouring out His wrath upon Him) and He loved those who were His own to the very end! Remember, as He was dying on the cross “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Remember and read (the book of John is a great place to start) the life of Jesus and see the Son of God, born into abject poverty in a stable where shepherds were chosen as His first messengers. Shepherds were considered outcasts and lowly in terms of societal class in Biblical times. He was baptized, even though He was sinless, and He sought out disciples who were all imperfect sinful men. His three short years of ministering to them changed their lives, transformed their hearts, and He taught, healed, and stood up for truth. Those disciples went on to change the world and they all faced incredible hardships. All of them but one died for their efforts. And they were not recognized during their lives for their efforts but they were “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1b) of those who prophets who had gone before them. They knew what they were facing and they endured to the very end. Why? Because they knew as Jesus did who they belonged to, what reward awaited them, and that their love would lead to eternal dividends in the lives of generations to come.

Therefore, will we “grow weary in doing good?”

Or will we remember who we belong to, what we WILL face, and what reward awaits us?

All of this we do out of love for the one who loved us to the very end even though even He was unappreciated by the very people He came to save. Don’t give up on this world, Jesus didn’t!

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

 

The Forgotten Ones

It is a commonly known fact that those that care for others the most often receive the least care or concern in return…
 
It is commonly known that those who give the most of themselves, who bear their souls, and lift up others in prayer often suffer in silence with their own struggles of sin and pain…
 
To those who call out from the depths of despair…
When you have walked through the darkness of your circumstance…
Take a moment and remember thankfully those who were there…
 
For many laborers make light work of one’s burdens…
Yet too often, when the burden is lifted…
The hurting hearts are healed and the helper is left hurting…
 
When your pain blinds our perspective where you feel that no one cares…
Stand up, open up our eyes, and see the multitude…
Who have been long standing there…
 
Standing alongside with those who have felt abandoned…
Shedding tears with the broken and the forgotten…
Praying for those who aren’t aware…
That many are lifting them up in fervent, passionate, and heartfelt prayer…
 
There are those who hold another’s pain only for a brief moment…
There are those who listen with compassion, intently focused, on the hearts that are broken…
There are those who keep your confidence of your darkest & innermost pain…
There are those who do this, daily, again, and again…
 
They take that phone call at the worst possible time…
They show up when all hope is lost and everyone has gone…
They hold your hand, hold your heart, and never let go of the line…
 
They have sacrificed, lost, and often fall ill…
They have done all of this not for fame or fortune…
They have cared deeply because of the love of the One…
The One who gave it all in spite of our sin…
The One who lived, loved, and died, and rose again…
 
He is the reason that there are those who care so much…
He has changed their heart, enlarged it, and filled it with His love…
They do all these things and more in the name of God’s Son…
They do all of this even though that they are often forsaken, persecuted…
And even though they help those who are lost, they are often the forgotten ones…
 
We say we “Never Forget”, I challenge you today to Never Forget those who have lifted you up, cared when no one else did, and listened when all others walked away…
 
Let us not forget those who care enough to “bear one another’s burdens” for they often are bearing great burdens of their own.
 
God Bless,
Andy Starnes

Not So Rapid Intervention 

As firefighters, we understand that no other words on the radio bring more intensity and emotion than these: “May Day, May Day…”

Yet, we also know that the rescue of our own is often the most difficult and least successful in some instances due to the obstacles we face in order to rescue them. We understand it takes numerous firefighters to rescue one and the effort is not as the acronym implies as “Rapid.”

But what about when we see those around us heading for trouble? 

What about when we see their pain, their suffering, and yet despite our efforts they refuse our help?

Why is there a trend of others suffering in our world today? 

Not just a physical suffering but one of despair, anxiety, depression, and many people seem to be constantly at war with one anyone who disagrees with them. Yet we claim to be a peaceful people. Why is it that in a nation so prosperous, seemingly lacking nothing, we are divided and seem to be in a sense of inner conflict with not our enemies but one another and even ourselves? 

The fire service is not exempt from this, as we often see “the brotherhood” attacking one another over tactics, matters of opinion, and even making personal attacks on our own. How hypocritical of us yet therein lies a deeper problem for us to ponder.

Consider the profound wisdom of Tim Clinton:

“Interestingly, as today’s prosperous generations search for purpose, meaning and value, many are experiencing a pervasive sense of emptiness and isolation. And why shouldn’t they? In a world flooded with distresses like father absence, abuse, violence, marital discord, and emotional problems there is a natural epidemic of escapism through consumerism, drugs, alcohol, sex, and suicide. Earnest Becker accents this thought concluding ‘Modern man is drinking or drugging himself to death…or he is shopping which is the same thing” (Tim Clinton, p.4-Caring for People God’s Way).

We see a world full of every type of material or physical pleasure available to us yet these numbers confirm Dr. Clinton’s wisdom that we are not at peace as we seek escapism:

• 6.7 % or 15 million Americans suffers from depression

• 40-50% of American marriages will end in divorce (Firefighter divorce rates are as high as 70% in some states)

• 24.6 million Or 9.4% had used an illicit drug in the last month (alcohol and substance abuse is on the rise among firefighters).

• And approximately 40 million Americans look at pornographic material daily (This is an increasing problem in the fire service as well).

• Suicide is becoming the leading cause of death among young adults in America today (ages 25-44). We lost more brothers and sisters in the fire service last year to suicide than in the Line of Duty.

With this overwhelming evidence in front of us what is the source of our emptiness? 

Why is it that we are not at peace? 

Why are we using such unhealthy coping mechanisms to attempt to deal with the trials of life? 

As firefighters, we often are guilty of rescuing others but refuse to reach out for help because of our own pride. We feel ashamed of our problem and don’t want anyone to know. We often push this problem down, refusing to deal with it, and it becomes a cancer to our souls. Then the failure to deal with it begins to cause collateral damage in other parts of our lives.

Whether you believe in God or not it doesn’t negate the fact that all of the answers we seek neglect the One that will truly heal us. It is paramount for us to note that this problem is not a physical, emotional, or psychological one; it is a spiritual one and can only be healed by the One who took upon our punishment so we may have peace:

Jesus Christ…

No other name has brought more peace and more conflict…

No other name has more literature or evidence supporting His existence yet He is denounced as either a false teacher or an “opiate of the people.”

No other name has the power to save us as “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.” (Acts 4:12) Yet no other name is more attacked by those He actually died to save.

Yet no other name is more neglected, more abused, and more evicted from our society than the name of Jesus. Why is this so? 

Consider with me for a moment the words of Jesus…

For those who carry heavy burdens: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

For those who mourn: “Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).

For those who are anxious: “Cast all your anxiety upon Him, For He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

For those who feel alone: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

For those who have been tempted: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matthew 4:1).

And for all those who feel that God has forsaken them, even Jesus cried out on the cross as He was dying: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

And the ultimate reason for us all to look to Jesus is to remember that:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life” (John 3:16).

We must realize that the source of our emptiness, our anxiety, our struggle is a cross shaped scar upon our hearts that only Jesus can heal. He has done the work, paid the price, and “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). 

We often try everything to heal this brokenness except Jesus. We try healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms only to find ourselves still empty. We often come to the end of ourselves before we come to the beginning of God. We fall broken on our knees and cry out in anguish and even shaking our fist at Him when He has been there the entire time pleading for us to let Him in. Then we begin the search for Him but we only do so when our hearts are sincere:

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

And what do we find? Do we find prosperity, pleasure, and all our problems go away? 

No…

We find something even greater. We find peace. Peace amidst the storm, knowing that God is with us. We find reassurance knowing that He will never leave us. We find Joy knowing that we are forgiven despite our past. And we find new opportunity in this hurting world as we go and share the message we have received. 

Thus, as we go out into our daily lives let us look upon our struggles with a new found strength. A strength that doesn’t fail us because it isn’t our own. A strength that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). A strength that tells us each and every day that we are loved, we are forgiven, and that He wants us to share this life changing message with others no matter how much they assail, object, or persecute us. We will love as He loved, through the pain!

May we all seek Him and be found today,

In Jesus name I pray,
Andy J. Starnes

Opposition or Opportunity

Opposition or Opportunity:
“A clue to life’s meanings are hidden in life’s relationships.” Ravi Zacharias

In this life, it is truly a blessing to have friends and family who support, love, and counsel each other out of Christ’s love.

But what about when we interact with others who are harsh, obstinate, and speak hateful words to others?

We tend to react with anger and want to be harsh with them also. Have we considered that we, in our past, we’re like those that we struggle with now?

In these difficult moments, when we are attempting to change or influence another’s thinking; have we considered the methods we use will produce the prevailing attitude in that persons future?

“There’s no point in giving a person a rose to smell, if we cut off their nose with our words.” Indian Proverb

If our methods aren’t loving why would anyone want to listen or consider our point of view? 

If our position is poisoned and bitter, our passion is lost and all they hear is our bitterness. The message is then lost in our madness.

Instead, consider these words in our interactions with difficult people:

“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” 2 Timothy 2:24

Why should we be gentle and kind even if others are not?

 
“Gently instruct those who oppose truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn from the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devils trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” 2 Timothy 2:25-26

Dear friends, if we truly want to change and lead others to the Lord our methods must be sincere and loving. Our beliefs must be seen, felt, and demonstrated in all aspects of our lives. A true test of our morals is not when we are around those we love but when we are in the midst of opposition.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

The Mission Statement 

The Mission of Bringing Back Brotherhood:

Do you have a mission statement? Do you understand what your purpose is? In life, we often need maps to get where we are going yet many choose to journey through life without seeking their true purpose. I encourage you to seek the one who made you and find your true purpose, your mission, and your fulfillment: Jesus Christ.

So how did I find my mission statement?

The fire service had become a spiritual detriment to me but then God opened the eyes of this blind firefighter and showed me what it truly is: a great spiritual opportunity to encourage one another!

With that in mind, God began the process. He wiped away the bitterness that had become part my soul. He replaced it with compassion for those who had hurt, betrayed, and drained my soul. 

This lost firefighter has been found and now has begun to see others as God sees them. Firefighters everywhere are silently hurting, they need encouragement, and the painful realization that occurred is that God had not failed them. It was the firefighter (me) who had failed. I chose to let the world drain my passion. I allowed others to change my attitude. I drank the poison of bitterness and blamed the world. I accused others of stealing his joy but in reality he gave it away.

Thus the mission was born…

A mission born out of my own brokenness…

A mission born out of my own hypocrisy…

A mission born by being reborn through Jesus Christ….

The mission of Bringing Back Brotherhood is to encourage first responders, firefighters, and all emergency services personnel with the hope of Jesus Christ. The hope that those who read these pages will experience an awakening; their passion will be re-ignited, their mind will be renewed, and their heart will be transformed. That when we look upon our brothers and sisters in the fire service we would see them as Christ did:

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38)

This message in these pages will be shared through the vulnerable and often painful moments that we all face. And that no matter what we have been through, or mistakes we have made, or pain that we have suffered that we are now uniquely qualified to help others. This is the power of our living testimony showing that we can endure, we can make a difference, and no matter the circumstances: “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Through the power of sharing our lives and what God has done; therein lies the bridge to connect to our brothers and sisters who feel lost. If you have felt the call, the inner desire to do something more, here is an offering. An offering of one firefighters desire to light a fire in others; the offering of a broken heart that has been healed through Jesus Christ. An offering of pain, tears, and tribulation as an open book to you in the hopes that you will look to the one who will always provide.  

If you have become lost that you will come home. Know that there is one who is searching for you and He wants you to come back home. The Ultimate Primary Search is being conducted for your heart and He will not stop until you are found. He offers you hope, comfort, and encouragement that the world can never take away. Begin your journey home today! Don’t let the world destroy our calling, let’s Bring Back Brotherhood one changed life at a time beginning with our own life!

God Bless,

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

The Cultivation of Character

Have you ever noticed that people will stand up for just about anything except for their faith? 

Why is this so?

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The courage to face adversity and opposition is one of the most difficult types of courage to cultivate. For it often only grows through the challenges of adversity. Faith, like our bodies, must be exercised regularly to stay ready and able.

As firefighters we risk our lives daily in numerous ways yet when it comes to having the moral courage to speak up for our beliefs we often shy away from the task. If we are honest, more of us are more fearful of being labeled rather than being known as a follower of Christ.

What then is Moral Courage? 

“The ability to do right in the face of opposition or discouragement.” (Pastor Greg Laurie)

To face the enemy known as fire we take a “calculated risk” based on our training, conditions, and resources available. Yet when we are faced with a moral dilemma we should remember to make our decision based on our faith, our core values, and the ever present truth in God’s word. We should remember our spiritual training.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

To have moral courage is to “stand firm in the faith” no matter the opposition personally, professionally, and politically.

In order to develop this characteristic, one must sincerely believe. They stand firm, not because of their own strength, but because of their hope in Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

The challenge before us is as Christians is no easy task:

Let us be clear and speak the truth in love. When we are confronted, persecuted, or ridiculed because of our faith do not speak to them as they did to us. 

Remember, Jesus is our example. When he was mocked, cursed, spit on, and persecuted He did not respond with anger but with love.

Jesus showed us the way. This is the mark of true courage: To respond to hate with love, to answer ridicule with wisdom, to turn the opposition into a conversation, and to lead a conversation into a relationship.

The world may hurt us, betray us, but we can have hope that Jesus didn’t let that stop Him from loving us. He loved through the hurt.

Let’s pray that God will give us the courage to love others even when they hurt us. May His words be on our lips and may His strength be in our spirit for we cannot stand on our own without you O God. 

We stand together in this fight with truth and suffer only because we trust in a God who has already won the victory for us. The Battle is won, we must trust and pray as we are being developed for a higher purpose. 

And when we see our fellow brothers & sisters standing firm in the faith let us come along side them. Let’s support them when they are ridiculed. Let’s lift them up and encourage them to stay true to their faith in Jesus Christ. 

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The Cost of the Fire Service

Another week has flown by, and I am reminded how blessed I am to return home safely from another many hours away from home. But, many times in life we work these long hours without thought of the great cost that is paid on our behalf in our absence.

For example, in this one week consisting of 168 hours, I will have missed over 100 hours of it with my family. Double shifts and teaching all seem to fall into the same week but those hours I missed also consisted of:

My wife taking our daughter to church alone…

My wife taking our daughter to school all five days this week all while she has to work as well…

My wife setting up a babysitter for two of these days where our work schedules overlap…

My wife running the necessary errands, keeping our household running, paying bills, preparing meals, and keeping up with family concerns….

My wife getting our daughter to her Wednesday night church group (AWANAS) …

My wife does this each week and so much more all the time. She gives of herself and sacrifices her time (and many times her sleep) to get it all done.

So when each of us work a long week and we return home tired (and often frustrated) we need to remember the great cost that is being paid on our behalf.

Remember that our wives are often tired and carry the same burdens we carry. Remember that our wives our modeling Jesus’ sacrificial love to us in their daily acts of commitment to our marriages.

Remember the words of Proverbs 31:10-11-

“Who can find a capable wife? 
  She is far more precious than jewels.
  The heart of her husband trusts in her,
  And he will not lack anything good”

Give thanks this day that we have wives that are capable and precious to us. And make sure that they know how much we appreciate them. Let’s show them our love every day through our words, actions, texts, and more. 

Give thanks each day for a spouse that completes us, works with us, and puts up with us through it all. 

God bless,

Andy Starnes 

The Firefighter Rescue Plan

Part 1: The Need to be Saved.“A Firefighter’s Interpretation of the Roman Road to Salvation”

Every firefighter wants to save a life. It is not any firefighter’s wish that anyone should die. Our very existence is to save lives and property. In the course of our service to our fellow man we see many people saved and sadly we see many people lost.
In those time when someone dies, we often question our efforts. 

If we had gotten to them a few seconds sooner?

Then we question God…

Why did would God allow such a tragedy to occur?

Why do innocent children have to die?

Why is it so many die from their own hands?

God, we want to save lives!

So it is with God, He doesn’t want anyone to perish…
“The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise,…not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives.” (2 Peter 3:9)

In our profession, our efficient and quick response is often what makes the difference between life and death but in order for us to respond someone has to make the call for help. They have to first admit they need to be saved.

When a firefighter rescues someone, they do not refuse being saved. We don’t reach the burning window with our arms outstretched to them and hear them say “No thanks, I don’t need to be saved.” Why then do people often refuse the saving message of God’s love through Jesus Christ?

Many people today are being deceived. They are only taught about the love of God and not about His wrath. In fact, if you mention the wrath of God many are immediately offended as if to say that God would not punish anyone. 

Yet we have no problem with the punishment of crime and terrible acts committed here in our midst? 

Why is it that we think that God would not punish sin? 

“The wrath of God is being revealed against all the ungodliness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

Many of us are angry, hurt, and feel that God abandoned us early in our lives. Many people question God because of all of the pain of suffering in this world. We see so many “good” people suffer and cry out as if to say to God “Why aren’t you doing something?” 

Yet, for those who believe in Jesus Christ, we know that God did do something. He performed the greatest rescue of all time. Even when faced with all that God has done for us many refuse His gift. So why should we believe that we are the lost and need to be saved?

Every one of us is born with an innate desire to be fulfilled. We spend our entire lives chasing things that we believe will fill this inner void. 

Yet each moment only temporarily satisfies us. We face disappointment after disappointment; yet we keep searching for peace in the temporary things of this world.

Why is this?

As human beings we tend to believe we are relatively good. The problem lies in our perspective. We think we are good enough because we compare ourselves to others. We say things like: “I am not as bad as that person.” Somehow along the way, we have begun to feel quite comfortable in drawing our moral conclusions from an immoral world. 

Yet God’s word reminds of two staggering statements about being good enough:

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
-And-
“For everyone who should keep the whole law yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

The justification of being good enough is one of self-justification and whether we like or not we have made ourselves God. In this way we can define truth, morals, and right & wrong. Just as Adam & Eve did in the Garden of Eden they chose to decide what was right for themselves. We apply the same illogical reasoning by saying if the definition of right & wrong changes, we will simply change the definition to meet our lives and our culture.

The problem lies in this simple fact-

Everyone is in need of Rescue.

Remember this verse? “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).It says “All”, not some, not most of us, not a few of us, and not a select few but All!

Each person’s definition of good if based on their own standards will always vary and be different to fit or justify their life.

How then do we know whose definition of good and truth should determine our worldview?

Is anyone truly a good person by their own merit? 

What about firefighters? They die to save others? Doesn’t that justify them? 

But does a hero’s death equate to the keys to heaven? Yet it isn’t who we die for, it’s who has died for us! But why would anyone die for someone who doesn’t recognize them nor believe in them? Yet that is what Jesus did for all of us:

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Dear friends, this isn’t a matter of condemning one another. It is the greatest rescue mission ever performed. It is the ultimate sacrifice, One who died for all even while we were still sinners. One who did nothing wrong, paid our debt before we even knew Him. One who loved us even when we didn’t love Him died so we would have the chance to be with Him.

Many have heard John 3:16 but what about the next verse?

“For God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save it.” (John 3:17)

The Son of God died on a cross to save all of mankind. He willingly laid down His life so we could live not die!

If you have never believed, or perhaps you have walked away from your faith. Ask yourself, what if you’re wrong?

What if there is a God?

What if He truly does love all of us?

What if we were to see Jesus as He truly is?

The greatest rescue mission ever enacted on our behalf. He loves you, He loves me, and He loves everyone and doesn’t want anyone to perish.

Consider His sacrifice, His resurrection, and His message.

For one moment, let down your guard and ask Him to come into your life.

We pray that you will.

In the name of the greatest rescuer of all time, Jesus Christ, I pray…

Amen!

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

In One Moment

Many of us complain through our joys rather than celebrate them…

We fail to realize that our lives are but mere moments…

And it’s up to us to either live with remorse or cherish them…

In one moment, we stand before God at an altar…

In one moment, we cannot believe that our marriage has faltered…

In one moment, we hold a precious new born child…

In one moment, we are signing papers over differences that can’t be reconciled…

In one moment, we are pious and preaching at others…

In one moment, we are found guilty of the same sin we condemned our fellow brothers…

In one moment, we are living a dream, perfect and serene…

In one moment, we are found wanting, our nightmare has erased our dream…

In one moment, we have a family, a job, and all that we could ask for…

In one moment, we are hiding in an alley, shivering in the cold suffering from our own personal disaster…

In one moment, we are saving others, making a difference every day…

In one moment, we are staring down the barrel of a gun wondering if there is another way…

In one moment, we are comforting others with counsel and guidance…

In one moment, we are refusing our own advice lost in our own personal bias…

In one moment, we are healthy and we take it for granted…

In one moment, we are disease stricken, hopeless, and abandoned….

In one moment, our lives can suddenly change…

Yet we often take these moments for granted, failing to realize they will never be had again…

This all comes back to a garden where we lived in perfect fellowship…

We had it all, yet we longed for more even though there was only one prohibition…

Rather than focus on what we have, we pondered that one refusal…

The decision to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…

From this day on we have been spiraling downward, hell bent on having it our way…

Yet what we failed to realize is that God warned us yet we did it anyway…

We chose to decide what is good and what is evil based on our own decisions…

We chose to invalidate morality, condemn accountability, and justify our own sins…

The collateral damage since that day is plain for every eye to see…

Failed marriages, rampant violence, and even the killing of our own unborn children…

All neatly justified, elaborately explained, by society’s freedom from religion…

We rip God from the very pages of our history as to say to Him, You are not welcome here…

Yet we welcome and encourage His word to the incarcerated as it calms the violence and fear…

We scream at those who follow Christ, you are hateful and intolerant of our views…

While they serve the least, feed the hungry, and struggle with their own demons in their pews…

We lash out at those who say there is only one way to God through Christ….

While in reality, our doctrine loses its explanatory power at the end of our lives…

For only then as the thief on the cross realized at the last moment…

Only Jesus Christ can save us from our sins and his precious blood made for our atonement…

Sadly, many of us realize this one moment too late…

Our death bed conversion never occurs as we enter the brimstone lake…

We weep and we gnash our teeth in the darkness but our cries are not heard…

For in our one moment, we chose to ignore the voice of our Savior and Lord…

We chose our moments to be defined by our own righteousness that fell far too short…

We chose to justify our sinful lifestyles only to be found guilty in the highest of courts…

We thought we would stand and give God our explanation…

Yet we fell silent, on our knees, and confessed our lack of His salvation…

But this story doesn’t have to end this way for all of humanity…

For God sent His Son to save the world from this terrible calamity…

If we would but accept His gift and confess our sinful heart…
He will give us a new heart, a new mind, and a brand new start…

This is the promise from God that cannot be broken…

His word will not return void and we are free to be one of His chosen…

Will we accept this freedom in Christ this treasured gift that He gave?

His blood, His sacrifice, was given so all may be saved?

It is a gift that must be received for our relationship to be restored…

It costs us nothing but our submission to the One Jesus Christ Our Lord…

He gave it all so that we may live…

In our one moment, what will we choose to give?

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

 

 

 

Is BroHERhood Dead?

Is Brotherhood dead?

Perhaps you have heard or even said this statement before:

“BrotHERhood is dead!”

Really?

First of all, what is brotHERhood? 

Is it the unmistakable bond shared by firefighters that cannot be explained but must be lived? 

Is it the sacrifices shared by the collective hearts of those who carry one another’s burdens thereby fulfilling the law of Christ? (See Galatians 6:2)

Is it the gift of one another’s unwavering presence not only in a fire but when our world burns down around us? 

Those that understand and live the principles that embody brotHERhood would say that it is all this and more. 

While my words may fall short in defining such an incomprehensible term many have used harsh words in attempt to kill, destroy, or diminish its worth.

While our experiences may have left us torn, betrayed, and hurt this doesn’t mean that brotHERhood isn’t dead. It’s merely geographically challenged or been abused by those who claim to practice it.

We see many firefighters struggling in toxic environments struggling to make a difference where every effort is met with ridicule, opposition, and slander. Their perspective therefore of brotHERhood has been twisted. 

The temptation is too throw up our hands and give up but let us consider this:

Do we judge the fire service by the ones who choose to abuse it? 

-Or-

Do we chose to base our belief on an unshakable resolve reenforced by likeminded & shared values between brethren who lift us up?

Do we willfully sit at the table of discontent and drink the poison of bitterness because the majority has become bitter? 

Remember “bad company corrupts good moral character.” If your environment is toxic and you don’t have like minded passionate brethren to reenforce your values is your struggle in vain? Will the weariness of those who have been corrupted gather another casualty by our surrender?

The answer depends upon one individual:

You!

Will you give up because everyone else has? If so, what then will you do when faced with another tough choice? If you will abandon them now you will most likely abandon them in a fire.

Will you choose to seek out those who will encourage you, educate you, admonish you, and hold you accountable so your fire will stay burning bright?

-Or-

Will you succumb to the bitterness that has become commonplace and the discord that had replaced unity? Will you then take that poison home to your family and thereby poison them without even knowing it? 

Consider the words of Nietzsche:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

His words have profound meaning to us today. He implied the death of God came because we chose to believe it. He stated that in order to have taken away such a being we must become gods. The created cannot kill the creator of all things but we can refuse His kindness by choosing our own way which leads to death. 

The implication for the fire service is this:

For brotherhood to be dead we the ones responsible for fostering it will have therefore chosen to have killed it by disbelieving in it.

For us to comfort others who are in need when they call for help and for us to condemn those in our fellowship is the very antithesis of brotHERhood.

For us to celebrate our traditions and gatherings only to backslide, slander, and destroy the very department that we work for with our words is the nail in the coffin of brotHERhood and leads others astray in the process.

In closing, if you believe brotherhood is dead based on those who choose to abuse, malign, and discredit the very organizations and members that they work for then perhaps you should decide who defines reality for you:

Your values & principles?

-or-

Those who discredit them?

BrotHERhood is only dead because we choose to let it die. Don’t allow those who have fallen victim to bitterness to poison your perspective. Be renewed and refreshed in the calling that we all hold dear by realizing the importance of our fellowship.

It’s essential to what we do, who we are, and how we overcome.

God Bless,

Andy Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries