Tag Archives: command

The T-Shirt Firefighter & the Bumper Sticker Christian

double-oaks-2nd-alarm-full-view-1024x768 The T-Shirt Firefighter and the Bumper Sticker Christian

It is not uncommon to see a person wearing a T-shirt that indicates they are a firefighter. In many instances, the words or pictures on these T-shirts are not pleasant and are often proclaiming actions this individual isn’t living out. This often angers firefighters who take the craft of firefighting seriously. But what about our faith? Do we take it as seriously as our place in life as firefighters? What about those who wear T-shirts or bumper stickers claiming they are Christians but live a life that is contrary to what God’s word proclaims? Shouldn’t this cause us to pause and reflect on what’s more important?

Perhaps you have heard it said: “I’m not a Christian because they are all hypocrites.” Sadly, this is true for many of us. We claim a belief that we often fail to consistently live out causing more harm to Christianity by our poor examples.

“It is an extraordinary difficulty quality to fake. It is beautiful to see demonstrated in someone’s life. However, it is equally obvious when it is lacking. What is it? It is a healthy, consistent, and balanced faith” (Stephen Arterburn).

Stephen’s word’s ring true that it beautiful to see the love of Christ demonstrated consistently in someone’s life. This in fact, is a living Epistle of God’s handiwork written before the eyes of the world for all to see that God can save, God can transform, and God can do anything in anyone’s life if they will put their trust in Him.

Make no mistake, this is not a condemnation of those who strive to follow Christ and fall down as most of us do. This writing is for those who claim merely a title and not a relationship with Christ as many of us often fall into this trap. Their belief is only as deep as their devotion. How do I know this? Because this was my life until 2006 when I felt the weight of conviction. The conviction came from the Holy Spirit, showing me that I was leading others astray by claiming a belief that I didn’t truly have.

For firefighters, we often are angered or frustrated by those who claim to be firefighters but fail to consistently train, improve, or perform well when the call comes in. Yet, we who take such a calling so seriously, often fail to live out the values of our own faith. We find ourselves in an uncomfortable place of self-conviction as we stand in front of the mirror realizing it is we who have failed.

In our faith we often fail to live out our belief in the following examples:

We claim Christ, yet we compromise truth, condemn others, criticize, all instead of living out our faith in truth and love…

We claim o be good & dedicated parents; yet the hours we invest in our careers far outnumber the time we spend with our spouses and children…

We claim to love Jesus; yet we fail to consistently do what He says. (Luke 6:46 46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

We claim to be Christians, yet our finances prove we love our possessions more than our creator. Jesus counsels us on the dangers of loving riches more than God. One such example is the counseling of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22-23 “So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”

We claim to be witnesses of the Gospel, yet we share more gossip & slander than the Good News. This can be seen in our lives where we pray for someone on Sunday and then gossip among ourselves about their concern during the week. We have to remember that when others allow us the privilege to pray for their private concerns that this isn’t an opportunity for us to gossip; it is an opportunity to intercede and strengthen our own prayer life.

We claim to be saved from our sins; yet our lives reveal a different story of lust, foul language, lies, adultery and more. For myself, the hypocrisy of living a double life was a weight that I could no longer bear. I lived a very rough and perverse life while at work and then would attempt to be the good “godly” man at home. God began to convict me of this and has been slowly hammering away my old behaviors, habits, and things that kept me from being close to Him.

James reminds us that if we claim something our actions will ultimately reveal our hearts:

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14).
Jesus reminds us that if we know Him, love Him, and remain in Him our lives will be living proof of our belief: publicly and privately.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43:44).

In closing, we who claim to know Christ out to be living lives that reflect the depth of our relationship. Therefore, we should all be investing more into our time with Jesus so that when we wake up to face the world that they would see Him in us. Otherwise, if we say we love Jesus yet we act like the secular world we may hear Jesus’ words:

“Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

May we all take the time to strengthen our relationship with the One who loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16b).
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 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

Leadership: What’s Our Motivation?

It is apparent that leadership is a hot topic in the fire service today. One quick search on the internet reveals that leadership is something that is written about, lectured on, and taught on many different levels across our nation. Why is it that leadership is such a “hot topic”? Perhaps because it is painfully absent it most places. In this series we will address a definition of leadership that will set us apart.

Let us begin:

“What a waste to try to change their behavior without truly understanding the driving needs that cause such a behavior! Yet millions of people spend a lifetime searching for love, acceptance, and success without understanding the need that compels them.” (The Search for Significance pg 11)

Leadership is establishing a direction and influencing others to follow that direction. By definition, Leadership is an influence process. So in order for us to lead we must first understand what is it that drives to do so. What is our motivation to be a leader? Is it for recognition or monetary reasons? Is our ego pushing us to lead or is it out of your devotion to your family or some deeper calling?

Consider This:
The most effective and important leaders in the Bible had little awareness of the impact their lives had on others. They were too busy obeying God to keep track of their successes. Have you ever noticed that some of the best leaders were the ones that people seemed to naturally gather around? What attracts people to follow someone?

“Good leaders know how to bring the best out of people. They are encourager’s and motivators. They see the target ahead and pursue it.” Charles Specht

Leadership Self Assessment:
Are we someone who motivates others?
Do we look for ways to bring out the best in people?
Are we encouraging more than critical?

These statements are wrapped around one central word “motive”. Leaders who have defined history (in a positive way) are self-less. They are focused on others, their needs, and they see the good in others. A leader with pure motives can see the good in each person and collectively applies those resources in such a way that produces positive outcomes while building up their confidence & camaraderie. This comes from a selfless ambition that begins with a pure heart.

But how do we become a leader?

Take a moment and look at our life. Who are we? What defines us? If our job or title was taken away would us still be significant? Does our salary define your significance or do you measure significance by the lives we touch?
My friends God has made each of us unique. He has a special purpose for each one of his children. If we believe that we cannot make a difference or that we don’t have what it takes then we have not fully trusted completely in Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding-Proverbs 3:5”.

God has left us His word that lists example after example of inadequate, ill-equipped, and fearful individuals who produced miraculous and extraordinary results through God’s power. The Bible lists name after name of those who trusted in God and did great things. For example: Moses was not a good speaker yet God worked through him to speak to the most powerful man in history at that time to free the Israelites. David was the smallest of his brothers but was a “man after God’s own heart”. He became one of the greatest kings who ever lived. Paul was the greatest persecutor of the Christian faith and became the greatest evangelist for the Christian faith writing most of the New Testament.

Why us?

“God has shaped us to serve through your experiences, educations, gifts, personality, passions and relationships. God has people and situations that we are divinely prepared to touch.” (Dave Earley)

The process of becoming a leader started when we were born. Every moment of our life has uniquely prepared us for the circumstances of our future. Our testimony, trials, and tribulations are not just painful memories but “hard life lessons” that have made us stronger. There is no testimony without a test. These lessons will enable us to lift up others around us that are struggling. These difficult experiences, if we will draw from them rather than let them destroy us, can be the reason we are calmer, stronger, and decisive in the face of adversity.

Where is our heart?
“The man or woman who lives only for the love and attention of others is never satisfied, at least not for long. Despite our efforts we will never find lasting fulfilling peace if we must continually prove ourselves to others. Does our sense of self-worth depend upon our status, your title, or our spouse? This void is only meant to be filled by God? Our search for significance should both begin and end with God’s word” (The Search for Significance)

The world we live in seems desperate for constant approval. We are more concerned about the political correctness of society than following our morals and values that are God given. We spend a vast amount of money and resources to impress people that we don’t even know. We dress in fine clothes, live in the largest houses (compared to the rest of the world), and have more material possessions than anyone else in the world.

Yet we are the most depressed, obese, and anxious society in the world. If we have everything than shouldn’t that mean we should be happy? Why is it that our hearts seem to be constantly searching for meaning and fulfillment only to be disappointed yet again by another person, another material possession, or another achievement? Each one seems to leave us emptier than the previous attempt.

Our heart was designed for a purpose. The fulfillment of our heart and peace that we seek will never be found in a person, place, or thing. All of which will eventually disappoint us. This void is only meant to be filled by God. It is cross shaped scar that can only be healed by Jesus. Once our heart is opened to His love our world begins to change. Problems don’t go away but “a peace that passes understanding” fills our heart during life’s storms. We then become a “new creation in Christ Jesus” and this is all due to God’s great love for us that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us-Romans 5:8”. We then will “do all things through Christ who gives us strength” (Philippians 4:13-paraphrase)

Leaders who possess the peace of God in their heart will influence others in profound ways. Their motivations are self-less, they want others to succeed, and they will sacrifice and go to great lengths to achieve goals for others. This seems to go against the belief of society today. If we truly want to lead, we truly want to make a difference, and then we must accept the challenge to do the greatest thing we could ever do: “Humble yourself before the Lord and ask God to send you today. Let us be ready to make difference in others’ lives. God is saying to us today : “Be strong & courageous for I am with you”

Let us all lead from a heart motivated by Christ,

God Bless & Stay Encouraged,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Chain of Command-Going Straight to the Chief

In the fire service, we follow the ‘chain of command’ in which we communicate to our immediate supervisor. We follow this out of respect and out of the knowledge we are not allowed to go directly to the Chief without representation. In our lives, we sometimes feel we cannot go to God with our troubles. We feel unworthy and that the distance between our hearts and God is too far.

Let us consider for a moment what Jesus did for us:

In the Old Testament, the Israelite’s were not permitted to approach ‘The Most Holy Place’ which is where God would meet with the High Priest. Only the High Priest could do so once a year on the day of the atonement to make sacrifice for the sins of the nation. This Most Holy Place was between two Cherubim over the atonement cover on the Ark of the Covenant. (See Exodus 25:22). This place was within the tabernacle and was separated by a veil.

In Matthew 27: 50-51, Through Jesus’ death we see how He made a way for us to go directly in the presence of God. The veil that separated us from the Most Holy Place was torn.

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

As believers in Jesus, we no longer need to wait on someone to represent us. Jesus has done so on our behalf. The veil was torn, removing the barrier between us and God, so we may approach God with confidence.

In firefighter terms, we can walk right in to the Chief of the department’s office and talk to him face to face. We don’t have to call anyone else or ask permission. Through Jesus Christ we “may approach with confidence” and talk with God.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter ‘The Most Holy Place’ by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, opened up for us through the curtain, that is His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God let us draw near to God with a sincere heart.” Hebrews 10:19-20

Take a moment and remember what God has done for all of us. He has removed all the barriers and made a way for us to freely approach Him because of the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. We can freely approach Him and we do so with a grateful heart.

Our gratitude is expressed in the knowledge that we could have never crossed this veil without Christ.

Let us give thanks today and lift up our voice to God! He will hear our cries because Christ has made it possible for all those who believe. He has broken down all the barriers and nothing stands in our way of communicating the deepest desires of our heart.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

#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

The Firefighter Rescue Plan: How to call for help?

The Firefighter Rescue Plan: How to call for help?

Let us consider each part of this scenario as one who has become lost in the ‘fires of life’:

A sudden and unexpected calamity occurs in our life and we rush in to prevent any further harm without thought of a back-up plan.  Then the situation takes a turn for the worse and the world “collapses” around us. In this moment, we feel “pinned down” by the weight of this problem.  Our thoughts turn to anger and our pride prevents us from calling for help.

The situation seems hopeless; every effort to save ourselves only worsens the problem.
Anxiety begins to weigh heavy upon our heart. The circumstances have paralyzed us and we fall upon our knees as we cry out in desperation to God: “Please save us!”

Take a moment and think about this:

What if someone knew that in the future we would need to be rescued?

What if they knew that no matter how many people tried to save us that we still would refuse their help?

What if they knew that the only way to save us was to give up their own life for ours?

Even though at that moment, we would have never asked for their help or admitted our need for their help, this person still chose to give up their life for us. Why would anyone do such a thing?

Because He loves us more than you could ever imagine.

God demonstrated His great love in this:
“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Every firefighter wants to save a life. It is not any firefighter’s wish that anyone should die. So it is with God, He doesn’t want anyone to perish. The imagery is powerful, realistic, and it is true. God chose to save us before we asked. He answered the call of our heart that we refused to make. Many of us, including myself, only chose to call out in a moment of desperation. This is where many of us meet God. When there is no one else to save us, no back-up plan, no emergency fund, and no one to call.

The plan from the very beginning was to save us all. As a firefighter, you understand the plan of redemption even if you aren’t a Christian.  One who calls for help is saved by another that he or she has never met, and never can repay what has been done for them.
Sound familiar?

Each and every moment is a gift. God has made a way home, a personal rescue plan, just for us. His name is Jesus Christ. He will reach through our darkness, give us the breath of life, and bring us through the fire into the safety of His arms.

Many have become lost on their journey in the fires of life. It is not God’s plan for anyone to be lost but to be rescued. He is actively searching for us. His love pierces through the deepest darkness and his light shines through the most turbulent smoke.  If we would but call upon his name we will be saved. 

Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Every citizen is taught from an early age how to call for help. They are taught to call 911 and they know that help is on the way. In our lives, we should not be afraid to call upon God to be saved. We should not be afraid to call out to Him for help and we should realize that He has placed a wonderful support group in our presence if we would merely ask.

James 4:2 states “You have not because you ask not.”

Each of us will face moments in life that will be more than we can bear. It is not meant for us bear the load alone. In firefighting, we go in together and we fight together. We overhaul together and we get back in service together.

It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is a sign of strength. Take the time and consider this:

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Notice something? “Your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” If those around us, that we place our trust in, are undergoing the same kind of sufferings than who better to talk to, to lean on, and to ask for help from?

Our rescue plan has been defined, the team has been deployed, and they are standing at the ready to help. In Part three of this series, we will begin to how to “End the trend” of firefighters not receiving the help they so desperately need.

Until then, start by asking God for help, and leaning on our brothers or sisters around us. Lawyer's rd 4 alarm fire