Category Archives: Daily Encouragement

Death and how it affects us

Death and How it Affects Us-

As firefighters, we witness death on a regular basis. Some even become numb to the effects of being near to it so often.

We joke about it at the dinner table moments after witnessing tragedy seemingly untouched by what we just saw.

Or so we thought…

What happens when we lose a loved one? 

What happens when tragedy strikes our own lives?

What happens when our health fails?

What happens when all we worked for collapses and those we love abandon us?

Do we then still look at death the same? Do we casually talk about it at the dinner table? 

No, it becomes personal, painful, and all consuming. Our joking demeanor changes to a more somber attitude.

“But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed” Job 4:5

Yet as firefighters, we console the grieving with our words but what about our hearts? We often shy away from getting too personal for fear of others seeing our true selves. 

If we were honest with one another, we say:

The reason death has no affect upon me is that I died along time ago when:

“The eyes of a lifeless child looked past my soul as he lay in my arms…”

“The frantic loved one that refused my embrace when I tried to tell him that his beautiful fiancée had been killed…”

“When a 19 year old boy lay crushed upon a floor while the brother begged me to do the impossible and make him live again…”

“When the screams of a sorrow stricken mother filled my ears when I had to tell her that her new born baby had passed away at the hands of her boyfriend…”

These deaths became a part of us and it seems a part of us died with them but yet…,

“Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death.”

—Job 14:14

But for those who choose to believe in Christ, their hope is a life everlasting. Death is a mere passage from this life to eternal life with God. 

But is our faith only strong when things aren’t going wrong? 

But what about right now? The pain, the loneliness, the anger we feel when someone precious to us are taken from us. 

We cry out in despair. We long for comfort and peace. For this world offers only temporary solutions to a permanent problem. 

Our problem is that in the midst of our pain and grief we lack the perspective to see it all through God’s eyes. God is the one who can provide us the ultimate comfort.

“Blessed be the God . . . of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction.”2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

We forget the peace of the Father’s comfort:

Do we remember as a child when we would come to our parents in tears and they would tell us it would be okay?

Did we doubt? Did we ask for proof of their claim? Did we go and look for answers elsewhere because we didn’t believe them?

No. Because we had Faith but what is Faith?

“Faith is being confident in what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1

Faith is the trust that God asks us to have in Him. Just like a child doesn’t doubt their earthly father; we should not doubt our Heavenly Father.

We can have faith that death is not the end. Because:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”

(1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

So let us encourage one another during our times of sorrow. God will provide us comfort and He has placed those in our fellowship to be “the hands and feet of Christ.” 

Come along side one another and lift each other up during these times. And let us not forget the hope we have in Him.

Death is not the end for all those who believe,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 

Do you believe? 

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Brotherhood-A Re-introduction:

A Re-Introduction:

Let us begin…

There once was a noble profession known as firefighting and then those who loved it most fought for it the least. Their once unstoppable passion for the calling was replaced with the search for fame, recognition, and authority. Division replaced unity, bitterness replaced brotherhood, the calling became a career, and firefighters became employees. All the while politics and policy makers saw this as an opportunity to continue to divide us.

For if we are divided searching for our own success, our focus is distracted, and our strength is diminished due to our loss of the greatest tradition in the fire service:
Brotherhood

This is not a fictional story. This is the slow erosion of our values and beliefs right in front of our very eyes. We choose to ignore it, and not believe that it is true but think for a moment about the following questions:

Are you tired of the negativity in the fire service?

Have you noticed the increasing trend of our brothers and sisters struggling?

Do you believe that we do a great job of helping others but fail at helping one another sometimes?

Have ever felt this way? Has your once passionate desire for the fire service been diminished by others? Do you feel abandoned?

“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion, I will bring you back” Isaiah 54:7

In 2012, God put a burden on a firefighter’s heart. The fire service had become a spiritual detriment but then God opened the eyes of that blind firefighter and showed him 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 of the soul. He replaced it with compassion for those who had hurt, betrayed, and drained the soul of this lost firefighter. This Lost Firefighter has been found and has begun to see others as God sees them. Firefighters everywhere are hurting, they need encouragement, and the painful realization that occurred is that God had not failed them. It was the firefighter who had failed. He chose to let the world drain his passion. He allowed others to change his attitude. He drank the poison of bitterness and blamed the world.

Does this sound familiar to you? You are not alone…

This mission of Bringing Back Brotherhood is to encourage firefighters with the hope of Jesus Christ. This message will be shared through the vulnerable and often painful moments that we all face. The power of a testimony showing that you can endure, you can make a difference, and no matter the circumstances:

”Nothing is impossible with God.”


Through the power of sharing our lives and what God has done; therein lies the bridge to connect to our brothers & 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.  The mission and prayerful hope is this:

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.

Among the Broken:

Among the Broken:
Jesus said “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27b
Have you ever heard the phase ‘birds of a feather flock together?’
Firefighters, do you ever wonder why we seek out others who are like us?
It is not out of prejudice or piousness, it is out of the desperate desire to feel as if you can relate. We want to be able to share through a bridge of common ground. Yet the world seems destined to divide us all into groups that are pitted against one another. All the while this accomplishes discord rather than unity. It causes us to lash out against each other focusing on our differences rather than the one thing that we all have in common:
Brokenness
Each and every one of us is born with a desire, an inner longing, and a passion to be fulfilled. Some call it ‘self actualization’ but take a moment and consider this one common characteristic from another perspective.
Every individual, whether rich or poor, healthy or ill, struggling or prosperous, will all battle with this one problem in their life at some point. It is the problem of feeling ‘incomplete’.
We each will strive to be complete through accomplishments, relationships, unhealthy coping mechanisms, power, and or wealth.
After each one of these moments is achieved, we seem complete for only a temporary time and then the feeling returns. The thought continues to echo through your mind:
“There has to be more to life than this..”
There is indeed more to life than working to reach another goal. It comes when our hearts reach the point that we understand what we were truly made for. We were made for relationship.
We were made for each other, to serve one another, to love one another, and to glorify God through our faith lived out in our daily lives. Not by pious lifestyles or hypocritical words without meaning but by true brotherhood.
We are all linked together because we were all made by the same creator, Almighty God!
It is when you come to this understanding that you begin to see the world as He does.
Why?
You feel compassion for those who hurt you;
you pray for those who persecute you;
you give to those who could never repay you;
and you sacrifice without thought of recognition because you love.
Because we are all among the broken and it is our calling to come along side one another and share the one true hope that will bring us eternal comfort. This hope is the hope of Jesus Christ.
Believe again and know that there is more to life than what the world offers you.
So much more!

Facing Hard Times? Help is on the way:

Facing Hard Times? Help is on the way:

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character hope. “ Romans 5:3

How do we glory in our sufferings?

Not many of us look at the problems of life as something to be happy about. As firefighters, we solve problems for others but respond differently when they affect us.

Why is this?

As a firefighter, we understand this concept better than we would like to admit.

We understand that in order to be a better, stronger, and more disciplined that we have to endure many hardships.

Training, education, and exercise are some of our disciplines. But what about applying those disciplines in our own lives?

In our actual service we see tragedy, illness, death, and loss almost on a daily basis. This can carry over into our personal lives and cause us to cope in unhealthy ways that are destructive to those around us.

Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves:

Do the hard times we face in life make us weaker or stronger?

Each moment and each experience is an opportunity to produce “perseverance, character, and hope”

These moments and experiences are not meant for us to internalize and let them destroy us from the inside out.

They are meant for us to share, draw on each other’s comfort, and to use them in the future when we face even more difficult moments.

We are not meant to carry these burdens alone. Remember that!

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

This is a brotherhood and that means we carry one another’s burdens together! We do everything as a team so why should one of our brothers/sisters have to face a personal crisis alone?

These moments can define us or destroy us. Through Faith and Fellowship they can be a source of strength.

The Application:

As we face hard times in life we must remember to share our pain with others. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that we are human.

Without others calling for help, the fire service would not need to exist. With that in mind, begin by calling out to God and to our brothers/sisters for help.

Consider this tactical benchmark check list for our lives:

Size-Up: Pray! Tell God what your facing and share it with someone you trust.

Transfer Command: On an incident, the higher ranking officer takes command upon arrival. In our lives we don’t have to wait on God’s arrival. He is always there. Let Him take Command.

Follow His IAP: Immediately Apply Principles- God wants us to do our part; which demonstrates our faith (trust) in Him. Start mitigating the problem by following His plan.

Report to Rehab: As we work on the struggles we face we will become weary.

This is where we are to radio Command: “God, I am tired and weary”

And Jesus replies “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Remember as a firefighter, when we arrive at an emergency what do we do?

We go to work resolving the problem. Why?

Because we have confidence in our training and in knowing that help is on the way.

“Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear” Isaiah 65:24

So Pray and remember that our confidence is directly correlative to our dedication to God’s word. Our ‘training’ is our study and application of God’s word.

Then we are get to work on the problem knowing that help is on the way.

In closing, hard times will come but it is how we choose to respond to these moments that will impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

Let us practice the principles of God’s word as the ultimate training for the problems we will all face.

Firefighters Guide For The Fires of Life

As firefighters we are trained and disciplined on how to handle complex situations even if we have never faced it before. Our basic knowledge, skills, and abilities are applied in such a way that they serve as a guide for each incident that we may face.

Let us take a moment and consider how we can apply those same skills when we face the fiery trials in our personal lives.

Step 1) Size-Up:

At every incident we transmit a size-up to the responding companies. When we face down the difficulties of life let us do the same through Prayer:

Tell God what your facing and share it with someone you trust.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually,”

Step 2) Transfer Command to the Ultimate Fire ground Commander:

God has it under control so let us demonstrate our faith by trusting Him. At an incident we transfer command to a higher authority and trust that they are watching over us while we go to work on the problem.

Consider the battle is already won! We are fulfilling our part of God’s plan through our actions.

Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Step 3) Follow His IAP:

Start mitigating the problem by following His plan by exemplifying our Faith in Action.

James 2:26 ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’

In your heart, you will know what to do. By praying and seeking God’s counsel He will guide you.

So let’s get started. As stated above, God has the plan so let’s get to work and trust that He will be watching over us, guiding us, and teaching us along the way.

Step 4) Report to Rehab:

We will tire but we can rest in the confidence that help is on the way. He will provide the rest, renewal, and strength that we need to finish the race.

Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

‘Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.’ Isaiah 65:24

 

20140625-131459-47699300.jpg

Firefighter MAYDAY- Who will answer?

Your personal MAYDAY- who will answer?

“The heart of modern firefighting is the ability to go aggressively after a serious fire & extinguish it.” John Norman

In our world, we are tasked with “extinguishing” the worlds problems when in reality we have trouble “extinguishing” our own.

As firefighters, we are meant to go after the problem and not stop till we resolve it.

This mentality, this drive, and this discipline can cause us great heartache when we come upon a problem we cannot solve on our own. We feel helpless & ashamed as if we have failed.

But wait…when others are in need what do they do?

They call 911!

When firefighters are in need who do they call? A MAYDAY.

As a culture, we are often afraid or ashamed to call a personal MAYDAY. If you have ever been left alone, felt trapped, or there is no way out; Let me introduce you to the one who never misses a call, “will never leave you”(Hebrews 13:5), and who will always be faithful.

God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the three in one. The crew that will never leave you.

He is your Holy Father, your friend, and the one who gives you counsel. “Before they call, I will answer. While they are yet speaking, I will hear” Isaiah 64:24

Don’t be afraid of calling the personal MAYDAY. Our pride should not keep us from getting killed (literally or spiritually). It is our dependence on the one who will never leave us that will make us stronger.

“Be strong & very courageous”(Joshua 1:7) because God is with you always. “For with God Nothing is ever impossible” Luke 1:37

Bringing Back Brotherhood
Bringing Back Brotherhood