Tag Archives: anger

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

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

 

 

 

This is My Fire House

Welcome to my fire house, it is like no other…
 
Here we answer the call of the needy, the hurting, and bring calm to the chaos…
 
This is my fire house, a place of provision, security, and accountability all in one…
 
Here we eat together, pray together, play together, and share our burdens…
 
This is my fire house, it is like no other for only here can we be real with one another…
 
Here we fight, argue, and occasionally have times of discord….
 
This my fire house, four walls that house those who go out to serve the world…
 
Here we ventilate, open up, extricate, and bring life back to one another…
 
This is my fire house, where training isn’t optional it’s a part of our life…
 
Here we read, we discipline, we exercise, and we practice to be prepared…
 
This is my fire house, it is like no other, for I am responsible for those under its roof…
 
Here we watch over one another, we take care of one another, and our daily actions are the proof…
 
This is my fire house, it is like no other for we have good times, dark times, and experience loss…
 
Here we shed tears, we shed blood and sweat, and remembering those that we have lost…
 
This is my fire house, a place of solace and peace for those that are blessed to dwell…
 
Here we speak of heaven, praise God, and together we have been through hell…
 
This is my fire house, a place of rest for the weary and a place to come home to…
 
You see this isn’t a fire station filled with trucks and equipment…
This is my home with my wife, my daughter, and the love that fills it…
 
You may have thought of the fire house with those that you love…
And that is a special place as well, but first remember what we have been given from above…
 
Remember your family, your spouse, your children and how we respond to them…
 
Remember their desperate calls for help when they need their dad, their mom, and their friend…
 
Remember how you train, how you work, and how you would give your life for them…
 
Remember how no matter when the moment strikes you will always answer the call…
 
For this is your fire house, the one given to you from above and it should be placed above all…
 
God has given you a family, those under your care that you are to fight for…
 
This is our greatest blessing, our greatest calling, and the reason we train so tirelessly for…
 
This is my fire house, and I will fight the fires of life with those entrusted to my care…
 
We will train ourselves up in the way we should go and always be there….
 
This is my fire house, a place of shelter, protection, provision, and peace…
 
Those that dwell here will respond to each other, to others, and the last, lost, and the least…
 
For Jesus is our Commander in Chief and we seek his direction daily…
 
We may fail, we may fall down, but He walks with us through the fires ever so bravely…
 
He will never leave nor forsake therefore we will stand together through it all…
 
Knowing that this is my fire house, that He has equipped those within it to answer the call…
 
God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries.

In a Battle? Time to Get to Higher Ground!

In the midst of the storms of this life, have we considered how well we are communicating with the One who controls the winds and the waves? In the middle of the firefight when the flames are raging, how well are we communicating with the Ultimate Incident Commander?
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me for in you my soul takes refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purposes for me” (Psalm 57:1-2)
 
There is a battle raging right before our very eyes. Police are being targeted and killed, religious freedoms are being removed, innocent unborn children are being murdered, terrorism is on the rise, and the importance of morals & values are being diminished by many leaders in society. Yet there is an even greater war going on….
 
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12).
 
The Bible clearly tells us that there IS spiritual warfare going on all around us. For those who believe, we see its effects clearly around us. Yet we also fight a battle within ourselves against our sinful nature. We fight against our own lust, lies, anger, hypocrisy, idolatry, greed, and so on.
 
“For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:17-18).
 
So how do we fight against this invisible foe along with our sinful nature? Paul reminds us in Ephesians that we should “put on the full armor of God, so that you can be ready to take you stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). However, are we truly ready for battle? The issue isn’t the armor of God in many cases; but whether or not we are communicating and in relationship with the One who is leading the battle.
 
We must boldly then pray “For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18) and know that “In Him through faith we approach God” (Ephesians 3:12). This can be hard for many of us. For myself, I feel that my prayers are often hindered not because of God but because of me. I feel unworthy to approach him because of my sins. I forget the great price that was paid for my own sins by Jesus Christ. I have to come once again, boldly yet broken to the foot of the cross and cry out to My Lord having the full confidence that He will hear me not because of what I have done but because of what Jesus Christ has done for all of us.
 
We can then pray as Paul did that God would “strengthen you with the power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted, and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s Holy people to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-20).
 
So are ready for battle? Are we willing to put the time in as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Time in prayer, Time in studying His word, and Time in showing God’s love to a hurting and lost world even if it costs us?
Remember, a solider expects to be attacked, they expect their enemy will come at them. Let us then boldly pray and pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus knowing that He will fight our battles if we will remain in Him.
 
God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse:

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

As firefighters, we don’t like to admit that we often hurt. Not just a physical pain from our work but an inner torment. We often push down the emotions from the things we see, the struggles in our own lives, and the stress we experience. Then in one moment, we erupt as if our emotional pressure relief valve gives up. The tears come and they fall like rain. Perhaps, in this moment we could take the time to remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also shed tears.

Jesus experienced the same emotions that you and I feel. Every one of us has shed tears, tears of joy, and tears of sadness.  We will face trying times and some of these moments will seem impossible for us to deal with.  And as a follower of Christ, the more that we work for Him, the higher position we rise to, the greater the opposition we will face. It is a certainty that has been foretold by Jesus and lived out by Him and all of those who have followed Him.

“If you want to be my follower you must love Me more than your own father & mother, wife, and children, brothers, sisters-yes more than your own life.” (Luke 14:26)

In John 15:18-25 Jesus predicts our coming persecutions:

18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master. ’If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin.  Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not have sin. Now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened so that the statement written in their scripture might be fulfilled: They hated Me for no reason.

Many of us have fallen away when we have suffered for the sake of Christ but we must remember the words in 1 Peter 4:12-19.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

 

And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty,

What will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.”

Every person that we can read about in the Bible struggled, suffered, and wept. Yet, do we realize there is such a thing as tears of joy. The actual chemical composition of tears of sadness and tears of joy are actually different. So when we feel the emotions flood our hearts let us not suppress them let us embrace them and remember:

God counts every one of our tears:

“Thou numberest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; Are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8

God Himself has shed tears:

“Jesus wept” John 11:35

God will wipe away our tears:

“4 and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. “(Revelation 21:4)

The tears of joy and sadness in life will come but let them fall knowing that God the Father counts every one, God the Son has shed tears, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes one day. We can take comfort Jesus was “made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since He himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)

We are to remember that this world is the training grounds for heaven. We are made for a higher purpose, predestined for good works, and He will use all things to work together for our good and His glory if we will yet trust in Him. Hold the line, don’t let stop fighting the fires of your life, and remember He is with us though it all.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

 

 

The Haz-Mat Rule of Relationships:

In the fire service, we are taught when dealing with hazardous materials incidents that we are to:

Recognize, Notify, Identify, & Protect:

In our personal lives, we will ultimately find that our environments are often hazardous to our health. We may be in the most vibrant, passionate, and fired up stage of our lives and yet be in an environment that does everything to poison, condemn, and cause us to doubt. We often forget, that we were made for a purpose and that God has equipped us to deal with these hazardous situations.

How is this so?

Consider our response to a Hazardous Material Incident:

When dealing with hazardous material incidents we consult the Field Guide; thus when dealing with toxic individuals we should consult the ultimate field guide:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We have recognized the fact that we are in world of hurting individuals. We have consulted God’s word for resources and we pray (notify) to be equipped for every good work.

Yet, we need to change our perspective on those we view as hazardous materials. They may be toxic to others but how did they become so harsh? Do we realize that God loves them just as much as He loves us? Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 9: 36-38:

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

We have identified those that are in need and we must have a new found compassion for them. Our challenge that lies before us is to begin the hard work of protecting them by offering the saving grace of Jesus Christ. As a Haz-Mat technician approaches a scene they are properly dressed and prepared for their challenge. As a worker entering the harvest field, we must be sure to put on the armor of God and prepare our hearts for those we are about to minister to. We must “Always be prepared to give an answer (an apologetic) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15)

For “apologetic’s, if not under-girded by love is really nothing more than a sword intended to decapitate the person in front.” (Ravi Zacharias) Therefore as we approach our hurting world, let us not forget to approach them with the love of Jesus Christ. For if we do, the doors God may open will amaze us and change our hearts in the process. “For the Son of man entered the world to seek and save which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11)

Let us seek to save the lost in a hurting world around us,

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

The Rescue of a Broken Heart:

IMG_3677“Without realizing it, we often carry something around with us everywhere we go. We bring it out in our conversations and it shows up in our attitudes. It never really existed, yet it’s power lives among us and keeps us from moving forward.” Author unknown.

A look, an act of omission, choosing to remove oneself, and the very lines on our face can tell more than many of us would like to admit about the condition of our heart. We blindly believe that we can move through our days and function without others realizing that we are silently suffering on the inside. Our behaviors give away and cry out to others what our prideful selves refuse to do.

In these moments, if not careful we can hurt others in so many ways. We push others away and build walls around our hearts. We seal off our emotions as if they were a hazardous material that no one should touch. In reality, we have been hurt so deeply that we would rather suffer in solitude than allow anyone else into our world that may hurt us again.

Do we really want to spend our lives pushing others away?

Do we realize what we are doing to others by ‘protecting’ ourselves?

We are leading others down the same dark path as we assume our defensive posture. We cannot continue nor allow others to suffer alone. We must not let these brothers or sisters think that no one cares for them. They are carrying a sign around their neck that is printed in bold letters “HELP ME!”

Will we as leaders, friends, and believers take the time to speak words of comfort?
Will we take the time to listen to them?
Will we take the time to care?
Will we shine His light into their darkness?

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

For if we don’t take the time we may live with the regret of the results of their collateral damage, their wasted lives, or the memories of what we should have done to try to help.

Would we want to be treated as they are being treated? Don’t we realize that their behaviors are a cry for help? Who will help them? As leaders we cannot ignore their silent cries that says more than words can ever say.

We cannot ignore them no more than a person hanging from a fiery window screaming for help. Those that we know who carry these burdens are trapped at a fiery window and only those in their fellowship, those closest to them, will be able to make the rescue if they act in time.

Take the time to share Jesus with them. Be the brother or sister that they need when the call comes in. Don’t wait, respond and make the greatest rescue: The rescue of a broken heart.
Andy J. Starnes

#Firefighter Be-Attitudes

#Firefighter Be-attitudes:

Ask any firefighter that has been in the fire service for a few years what is their biggest struggle and you will often hear: “I am tired of the constant negativity that surrounds me and I know that it is having an effect on me.

How can I be positive influence in such a negative environment?”

Unfortunately, many firefighters fall victim to the trap of bad moral, negativity, and bitterness. Rather than focus on the negativity of others the questions we should ask ourselves are:

How did we let the best job in the world become such a burden to our soul?

How did we transition from vibrant, passionate, and energetic to the sad, negative, and poisoned spirit?

Consider the words of Victor Frank:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way that I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of ones freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”

With the constant exposure of occupational stress, financial struggles, and sleep deprivation it is no surprise that a firefighter’s attitude eventually suffers. Then we add the demands of our family schedules, the usual problems of life, and we suddenly have become disheartened. We feel unappreciated and are tired of the false brotherhood that many firefighters portray. However, a lifetime of serving others should not leave us broken, destitute, alone, and bitter.

So where do we go from here? How do we refresh or renew our spirits when they become weary?

The answer is simple yet one of the most difficult decisions we will have to make. It begins by deciding that we will no longer allow others, circumstances, or this world to destroy our passion for what we have been called to do.

“Without realizing it we often carry something around with us everywhere we go. We bring it out in our conversations and it shows up in our attitudes. It never really existed, yet its power lives among us and keeps us from moving forward.” (Stress is a choice)

Our attitudes determine our outlook. If we decide that today is going to be bad day we have already predetermined our outcome and all that see us will be affected by the dark cloud that hovers over us. We have actually infected others with our negativity without even knowing it. Our decision to let others, circumstances, or this world control us has lead others down the same dark road.

We shall begin anew and this is new easy process. It begins by recognizing that the problem is ourselves. We have to take ownership of our attitudes, our behaviors, and our actions. We must take a firm grip upon our words and realize that, whether we realize or not, that our attitude is impacting our families, our friends, and our world around us. We took an oath to make a difference and to leave the situation better than we found it; and the biggest difference we can make is in our attitudes among others.

The Application:

Welcome to a new oath! As a firefighter, we took an oath upon entering the service of our fellow man. Now we have reached the next step of our journey in which we will take ownership of our attitudes. This is called the
Firefighter Be-Attitude Contract.

What is a Be-Attitude you ask? The Beattitudes come from the sermon on the Mount in the Bible in Matthew Chapter 5 versus3-12. This is not a religious contract between you and God. Many great firefighters are from various religious backgrounds and non-believers. This is a process to help firefighters take ownership of their attitude based on the principles outlined in the Bible.

I am not requiring nor advocating that you must believe in God for these principles to work in your own life. I am a follower of Christ and therefore my perspective is based on the values from God’s word. With that being said let us begin with step one in the Firefighter Be-attitude Contract.

Taking Ownership of our attitudes- Take a sheet of paper and write the following: I ___________, am responsible for my attitude, my words, my behaviors, and my actions. I will no longer blame others, blame circumstances, and blame the world. I will not allow others to influence me in a negative way. To insure this occurs, I will not merely repeat this creed and then fall back into my old ways; I will install accountability measures in my life as a reminder that I cannot do this alone. These accountability measures are the following people:_________________. They are close to me, see me on a regular basis, and I will not be angered if they tell me that my attitude is beginning to darken.

Print several copies of this and place it where it can be seen regularly such as: the mirror in our bathroom, the inside of our fire department locker, and on the dashboard of our vehicle.

Congratulations! You have just begun the journey to reigniting the fire within your heart! Take this commitment seriously and inform your accountability measures of your goals.

Andrew Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Cliche’ Words of Comfort

Have you ever suffered greatly? Have you ever been struggling with something so bad that you desperately needed someone to talk to?

Then in your brokenness, you seek out help, and you cry out to someone who is a Christian. In the midst of your misery, you are pouring out your heart, and then the cliché advice begins to be shared. This person begins to slowly invalidate your entire existence. Each answer that they produce makes you feel small, and ultimately makes you feel like you’re that you don’t matter.

They say words like:

Their advice: “It could be worse.”
Your response: It will be if you keep talking, let me show you…

Their advice: “Be thankful for what you have.”
Your response: “I am but you don’t know what I lost.”

Their advice: “At least you don’t have that person to put up with any more.” Your response: “I never wanted to quit putting up with them”

Their advice: “It’s going to get better.”
“One day, it will all get better.”When one door closes and another one opens.”Your response: “How long is the hallway to the next one?”

Does any of this sound familiar? Sadly, many of us who are believers tend to forget where we came from. The pain of yesterday is forgotten by the prosperity of today. We are either in a fire, coming out of a fire, or about to enter another fire in our life. With this in mind, we would all do well to be more compassionate, less judgmental, and more merciful.

People in this world are hurting. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ to them. This doesn’t mean that we are to fix their situation with a mere few words. It means we are to exemplify Him in our actions:

We are to show up, when everyone else leaves.
We are to listen and love on them and not say a word.
We are to cry with them, pray with them, and lend a hand.
We are to give of ourselves in such a way that God is glorified.

As firefighters, it is our job to bring a sense of normalcy back to a chaotic situation. We stabilize the situation but we do not heal the pain that remains. Our acts of compassionate service may ease the burden temporarily but the process of healing, mourning, and reconciliation takes time. It is heartless and thoughtless to expect someone to get over their situation instantly.

Remember these verses the next time you are confronted with another who is hurting:

When they have lost someone: “Jesus Wept” (John 11:35)

When they are alone: Jesus cried out “My God, My God why have you
forsaken me” (Mark 15:33)

When someone betrays them: All of Jesus’ disciples abandoned Him and
no one spoke up for Him while He was on the cross except for a condemned criminal named Dismas.

When someone has hurt them deeply: “When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead He trusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23)

When others do wrong while you do what is right: “abstain from sinful desires that wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they may accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

In closing, remember your words, actions, and very life can be a means of comfort to another but there is a cost. It will not be comfortable. It will not be convenient. It will require sacrifice and your heart will be heavy. It is the cost of discipleship.

It is by His strength that we are able to come along side our friends and “carry each other’s burdens, and this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Remember what He has done for you and go and show His love to others. He didn’t wait for you to ask forgiveness before He died for you. He died so that we may live. Let us not forget that in our ministry to others.

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