Tag Archives: family

Raising Our Children Well

Raising Our Children Well:

The greatest lesson I have received in accountability and responsibility has been through the blessing of parenthood. God has shown me so much and continues to do so even through the eyes of a child. I have received my daily devotion while reading my daughter a children’s bible story. I have felt the weight of my own sin when my daughter has looked upon me when I have done wrong. I have realized that God is close to children in such a way that their faith is often far greater than any of the greatest theologians. I have realized that in order to do the right thing, to follow God, to obey His word is worth it and it comes at a great cost: personally, politically, and professionally.

Yet through all this I have seen the glory of heaven and God’s grace through the eyes of our child. I have realized the error of my own ways and even though there are many who don’t believe the way that I do; I soldier on knowing that God died for me: a lowly sinner. And if He would die for me & change my life then He can do the same in anyone’s life no matter their circumstances.

“The first step to correcting any error is repentance. Unless we are willing to say ‘I was wrong’, we will never know how to follow His right” (Ravi Zacharias).

The greatest privilege God has bestowed upon our marriage is one of parenting. From the moment I began to pray about having a family, to our prayers together, to the moment we found out, and to the moment we held our precious miracle: “Emma Caroline Starnes” has been covered in prayer.

God’s word reminds us that we are to be examples of “The Way” to our children. We must be diligent in continually seeking a closer walk with Jesus “lest you forget the things you have seen.”

“Only take heed to yourself, & diligently keep yourself lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children & grandchildren especially the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb…”(Deuteronomy 4:9).

In this particular scripture, Moses is commanding & instructing God’s people on obedience. We should not forget what God has done for us. The Israelite’s were rescued from slavery, led through the Red sea, fed manna from heaven but yet they rebelled. If we look closely at our own lives, we are not any different. God has blessed us in countless ways, saved us from our sin, and yet we often grumble, complain, and walk away from God. And then we try to justify our sin as the Israelite’s did.

In the midst of our journey through our own wilderness, we need to realize the great responsibility placed upon us. We are teaching, influencing, and molding the next generation which are our children. They are watching our every move, our every word, and more importantly they are watching when we fail.

The things we have seen, our experiences, our failures, and how God has brought us through it all are a part of our story. They are all part of our testimony. We should tell our children God’s story, our story, and how God saved us from our sin. They need to know that we are fallen creatures as well and that through God there is hope in Jesus Christ. They need to see, feel, and touch our Christianity. Our love for God cannot be in proclamation only but it must be present in all aspects of our lives.

For “the righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:7). To live a righteous life, is to always remember that we were bought with a price. To remember that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God has paid the ultimate price for our redemption. It is up to us live a life that is worthy of such a gift.

Our children need to know that sin has lost the battle and this world cannot justify our bad behaviors when we kneel before the Almighty. Only the blood of Jesus Christ saves us, redeems us, and transforms us. May we accept the challenge to be transformed and show the world that Jesus Christ lives and reigns in us.

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

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

And We Prayed

An offering of my heart to God out of gratitude for my family:

Several years ago, I fell upon the ground and cried…

I begged for God for a love that only He could provide…

In my weary heart, is where I submitted to His love…

Unaware that my life was under His divine guidance from above…

We met seemingly by chance with our guarded hearts…

A conversation in a coffee shop was our simple start…

After that day, we said goodbye and you went on your way…

I felt something in my heart and truly began to pray…

Two years later, we stood before God and our friends…

There He merged our hearts in one accord & our journey began…

Little did we know how God was working His plan…

He set our lives in motion through our broken roads we met…

He slowly took away our pain, mistrust, & the tears we both shed…

We began to pray through it all each & every day…

And just when we thought He was done…

He opened our hearts so that we would earnestly seek His Son…

I prayed for a seemingly impossible gift…

This gift was for the start of our family that I missed…

This prayer was on my heart day and night…

Until the day you spoke and opened my eyes…

We may have began our journey on two separate roads…

Yet God came alongside us and comforted us so…

He walked with us both guiding us all along…

Til our roads met and our lives as one truly began…

He opened our eyes as He did for those before…

He gave us new life and our hearts were restored…

As those who journeyed, the downhearted on the road to Emmaus…

At the end of their road, is as ours a new beginning lay before us…

As our prayers were yet spoken, so our eyes were opened…

As we welcomed our gift from God that we now share…

Our daughter Emma, also has been covered by prayer…

Our journey may be far from finished in this life…

For He took two strangers and made them husband & wife…

He took our love and made it grow…

And gave us child for our love to show…

His plans are far greater than we could ever imagine…

And I look forward to what God has in store on His horizon…

This writing I offer as a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all that He has done…

Though I often can’t see the way though my own troubles He reminds Me of His great love through His Son.

So if you have a wife, a husband, and a family….

No matter your problems, your pain, we should offer our hearts to God thankfully…

For their are a gift, no matter our circumstances….

That many would give anything to have such a family or second chances…

Give thanks for all that you have and bless His name…

For we know not what tomorrow brings, as they moments we will never have again…

God Bless,

Andy Starnes

The Affair You Never Saw Coming

The Affair You Never Saw Coming:

Imagine if you will, a happily married couple whose husband is a firefighter. Their marriage is great and they work together to balance the issues that fire families face but then one day something happens. The husband begins to change. He begins to be drawn into his work more and more. He is consumed by it, constantly studying, training, and attending conferences. He is always gone either on duty at the station or teaching at the local college. Slowly, the family begins to fade as his passion becomes more important than the very ones he swore before God to love and protect. 

This mistress, this affair, is like none other. For if it was a person, his wife could possibly see it coming. Yet this affair began with the drive to be a better firefighter so he could come home safe. So he was encouraged and supported by his wife and children to become better, smarter, and more skilled. The inherent danger of this trap that he never saw coming was the demon of pride. Not the pride that firefighters cherish were we take our craft seriously and honor the calling upon our hearts. This is a selfish pride that slowly sneaks in and begins as a fire does with one small spark. 

With each success, the firefighter begins to believe his own rhetoric…
With each certification, he becomes more of what others believe he is..
With each conference and speech, his recognition grows…
Yet all the while, his family is slowly dying…
He misses yet another ball game, another dance recital, and another anniversary all in the name of the jealous mistress known as the fire service…
He arrives home one night, only to find an empty house. No furniture, No family, nothing but a note that reads:

We used to be important to you. We supported you to chase your dream in the hopes that you would always come home. But somewhere along the way you became lost and never came home. The desire to become the greatest firefighter overrode the desire to be a better husband and father. So we bid you farewell, go and become that which you long for and no that no one will hold you back. Signed, your heartbroken wife and children. The lives you save out there will never make up for the lives you watched slowly die around you and did nothing to save.

He falls to his knees, broken and contrite crying out to God but it’s too late…

This story is fictional, but sadly it has elements of truth. The fire service today suffers divorce at a rate much higher than the general population. The irony in our lives is that we who have taken an oath to save lives and property often become lost and fail to protect our families lives and lose all of our own property in the process. 

If this story has impacted you, if it has touched your heart, or it has happened to you; don’t let this be the end of a sad novel. Let this be the beginning where you allow God to make beauty out of your ashes. As after a fire, the work begins to rebuild and begin anew. Their is hope for us all no matter where we are in our journey. There are those who will help and lift you up as you rebuild or reconcile the broken relationships in your lives. My prayer for us all is to remember that the oath we took upon becoming a firefighter should never supersede the oath of being a loving husband and father. Let us not let our lives burn down around us while we save everyone else. May we save our families today by showing them that they matter! Be the best firefighter you can be but always be the best husband and or father first so that you never find yourself as the one in this story.

May our great love for the fire service always be out of our greater love for our families. For everyone goes home but will our families be there?

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Taking off the Helmet

Taking off the Helmet:

In the moments that we serve, we often forget our place…
We give, direct, lead, and we make a difference…
We solve others problems in a moments notice…

But then we go home to our wives, our husbands, and our families…
We forget to take off the helmet, to remove our rank, to remember who we truly are…

We give orders instead of giving love and support…
We demand compliance with no Grace given to them when they fail…
We answer questions too quickly instead of listening with our heart…

We persist instead of being patient…
We complete the list rather than trying to see where their real need is..
We answer abruptly instead of taking a moment to realize…

The truth is:

Our families need fathers not firefighters…

Our children need their mother not managers…

Our wives need husbands not heroes…

Our husbands need wives not warriors…

Our loved ones need us and their need is for who we truly are…

Our families need a role model, a relationship, and not regulations…

Our children need leadership and guidance not forced compliance…

Our marriages need nurturing and investment not neglect and name calling…

Our titles are given to us by man however they might be earned…

Our roles as Spouses and Parents are God given and must be cherished or they can be lost…

The saves we make as firefighters pale in comparison to…

The lives that we save by being a husband, a father, a wife, and a mother…

Our badges are symbols of the commitment that we are sworn to uphold…

Yet the names written on our hearts are the greatest commitment that we will be held accountable for…

Let us not forget our place nor our calling…

This doesn’t mean we aren’t to be great firefighters…

It means that if we truly embrace our calling…

We will be significant not successful in all things that we do…

By placing our relationships first and our rank last…

Our proper order and service should be our faith, our family, and the fire service…

May we take off the helmet when we return home but may we never take off the calling placed upon our hearts…

For one day we will have to hang up our helmet but we shall never retire from leading, loving, and serving our families…

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries20140627-134945-49785952.jpg

A Firestorm unlike any other…

A Firestorm Unlike Any Other:

“When good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people it places us in great dismay. Things are often done to us that we have no control of. In these moments the tendency is to turn away from God, but in heaven’s name what are we to turn to?” (Ravi Zacharias)

There will come a time in every individual’s life where those closest to them will be in great pain and those that they love may cause others great pain. They may be suffering from painful circumstances, health problems, relationship struggles, or many other of the issues of life. The trials that we face as individuals are one thing but when someone we love dearly is suffering it is an entirely different level of tribulation.

The problem is not our own, yet we hurt for them…

The pain they suffer continues despite our efforts, and we pray fervently for them…

We cry out for them to God, yet they refuse the very prayers offered for them…

Their eyes and words cry out for help, yet many refuse any help because of pride & shame…

What then can we do?

How can we help those that we love that do not want our help?

How can we stand by and watch their life burn down all around them while the resources they so desperately need are within their very reach?

Perhaps we should ask ourselves another question. Have we ever lost our way? 

As a firefighter, we are trained how to search for the lost whether in a fire or a land-search. But have we ever searched for someone who did not want to be found?

The painful reality we all must face in life is that we cannot reach down and pull another out of their problem if they will not take our hand. Someone once said, that the definition of hell is to live in the presence of love yet they refuse to recognize nor receive it.  

In the midst of our trials, we are all guilty of turning our lives into prisons. We look to escape our shame in all the wrong places except in Jesus Christ. June Hunt, describes it well in how to diagnose the condition of the heart in the following eight areas:

1) Pride: “Do I focus on how much I have been wronged?” 

2) Faultfinding: “Do I rehearse/relive the faults of others?” This is noticed when one individual always points out the flaws of the another and never admits ownership or fault.

3) Avoidance: “Do I avoid being around people with whom I have conflict?” This is seen when those we love constantly run away or avoid the issue.

4) Silence: “Do I refuse to share my feelings in a healthy way?” When engaged or someone tries to talk with them they shut down or change the subject.

5) Isolation: “Do I withdraw emotionally?” We see this when our loved ones become cold, calloused, and develop a hardened heart.

6) Unfaithfulness: “Do I share unnecessary information about my opposer?” We see this when our loved ones share personal information that not only shouldn’t be shared but the purpose of this sharing is to get you to side with them or affirm their decision.

7) Hopelessness: “Do I lack faith that God can work in any situation?” We see this when no matter the solution that is offered they have a problem for every suggestion.

8) Resentment: “Do I hold onto my anger until it becomes bitterness?”When we see their emotions become bitter and choose not to forgive.
Have any of us ever fallen into these traps mentioned above? 

Have we felt the sheer comfort and relief when someone comes our way who comes along side and helps us bear our heavy burdens? 

Have we realized that the joy in God’s eyes when a lost person is found and how we should be faithfully seeking the lost?

“And when He finds it, He joyfully puts it in own His shoulders and goes home. Then He calls his friends and neighbors & says, ‘Rejoice with Me; I have found my lost sheep.’

In the joys, trials, & conflicts of life we all have been guilty of wandering too far. We looked up and realized that we have strayed from the protection of His arm. Suddenly, in our foolish ambition we realize we are helplessly lost.

The psalmist wrote, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant.”- Psalm 119:176 

Notice, in this scripture that Jesus comes looking for us and when He finds us He places us on His strong shoulders & takes us home. Then, even though it was our fault for wandering, God in his great love proclaims to everyone “Rejoice with Me, I have found my lost sheep”

Are you lost? Have you ever felt lost? Take heart and know that God is looking for you, he will find you, and carry you home. 

Know that those we love so dearly; that God loves even more. When our hearts are broken for them, God’s love pours out even more. When we have given up; His love for us has only just begun. He shows us that only He can mend the broken hearted. Only He can bind up our wounded souls. And only He can save us through the gift of His son Jesus Christ. May we learn to fight for those that we love by giving the battle to the Lord and waging war in prayer. 

May we pound on the gates of heaven with our cries and intercede upon their behalf with never ending petitions. May these times draw us nearer to God, deepen our relationship and dependence upon Him. “Caring for people God’s way means we are compassionate & loving to someone suffering from sorrow, pain, & tribulation” (Timothy Clinton).

May we care in a way that shows the depth of Christ’s love for them and in us,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries