Tag Archives: firefighter

The Cultivation of Character

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

Why is this so?

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

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

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

What then is Moral Courage? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The Firefighter Rescue Plan

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

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

If we had gotten to them a few seconds sooner?

Then we question God…

Why did would God allow such a tragedy to occur?

Why do innocent children have to die?

Why is it so many die from their own hands?

God, we want to save lives!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is this?

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

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

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

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

The problem lies in this simple fact-

Everyone is in need of Rescue.

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

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

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

Is anyone truly a good person by their own merit? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if there is a God?

What if He truly does love all of us?

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

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

Consider His sacrifice, His resurrection, and His message.

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

We pray that you will.

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

Amen!

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

In One Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In one moment, our lives can suddenly change…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We thought we would stand and give God our explanation…

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

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

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

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

This is the promise from God that cannot be broken…

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

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

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

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

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

He gave it all so that we may live…

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

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

 

 

 

Is BroHERhood Dead?

Is Brotherhood dead?

Perhaps you have heard or even said this statement before:

“BrotHERhood is dead!”

Really?

First of all, what is brotHERhood? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Or-

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

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

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

The answer depends upon one individual:

You!

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

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

-Or-

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

Consider the words of Nietzsche:

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

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

The implication for the fire service is this:

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

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

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

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

Your values & principles?

-or-

Those who discredit them?

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

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

God Bless,

Andy Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

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.

Do you believe?

My hands are lifted to a burning window with arms outstretched wide…

My answer to your hurt, my comfort to your suffering, is before your eyes…

My words have been imprinted upon your heart since long ago, yet you turn away…

My love has been long since shown for you yet you return to the flames…

I promised you that I would never leave you nor forsake you…

Yet I have stood here amidst the pain, the torment, and all that life brings…

I have stood here with my arms outstretched wide…

Calling to you, crying out to you, longing to bring you by my side…

Yet because of the pain, because of others, and the hypocrisy of this world…

You have chosen to doubt, to refuse my gift, and my cries are refused to be heard…

You have been deceived, justified your sinful ways, and twisted my Holy word…

Yet I implore you, I reach past all of your pain…

I long for you to see the love I have for you and begin again…

I can make all things new no matter your past…

If I can save the thief on the cross as he breathed his last….

Do you believe I can save you and give you another chance?

I can use all things for my good even the world and its evil…

If I can use a murderer like Moses to lead my people…

I can use you for my glory if you would just believe.

Do you believe that I can use you to do even greater things?

I can take an adulterer like David and make him the mightiest of kings…

I can take your anxiety, chaos, and worry and bring you peace…

I can take a prostitute like Rahab and save my chosen ones…

I can take the weight of the world’s sins upon the shoulders of my Son…

Then I can take your filthy heart and create a new one….

I can take the unclean lips of Isaiah and speak through Him about the things to come…

Yes, I can take your life, your words, and all that you have done…

I can do all things, I can change all things, and I can do all of these and more you see…

But I can do none of these unless you believe…

Do you believe?
Do you believe in Me?

“Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)

My name is Jesus Christ!
Believe in Me Today!

The Ultimate Rejection

In our lives, as we strive to make a difference we often come to a very dangerous crossroads. 

We work, sacrifice, and pour our passionate efforts into the development and improvement of our world. We give of ourselves in ways we never thought possible not even realizing how much of ourselves we have given away in the process.

And then it happens…

All of our work, all of our efforts, and all that we have developed is suddenly taken from us. It is not stolen by a thief nor are we robbed literally at gun point. In fact, it’s worse. Our friends, colleagues, and the very organization that we have worked to improve suddenly realizes the value of our work and TAKES it. They accept it, and place someone else in charge of it, and to make matters worse they fail to even recognize our efforts in making it possible in the first place.

There we stand at this crossroads…

Alone, betrayed, rejected, and bitterness begins to creep in…

Our anger overwhelms us, we can’t believe that those that we trusted, and that those we have given so much to could have turned on us.

We begin the process of defending ourselves…

We consider our defense…

We gather those to our side to defend our cause…

And then suddenly it happens…

A voice whispers to our heart:

My child, my only Son suffered as you did…

Because of you…

Our mind suddenly takes a turn at this crossroads from bitterness to guilt. We remember that what our Lord Jesus Christ went through for us:

We think about those who fail to recognize our efforts and all that we have done and then we remember that Jesus:

“He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” (1 John 10-11)

We think upon the rejection we have suffered, and how all of those we have sacrificed so much for have turned away from us and we remember that Jesus: 

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.” (Isaiah 53:5)

We shake our fists in disgust as we reflect on those who were our “Friends” who abandoned us, betrayed us, and falsely accused us when it hits us that Jesus warned us about this when He said:

“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of My name. It will lead to an opportunity for you to witness. 

“Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”

“You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will kill some of you. You will be hated by everyone because of My name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. By your endurance gain your lives.” (Luke 21:12-15).

We must reflect upon what our Lord went through on our behalf, and more importantly, how He behaved through it all:

“When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots. (Luke 23:33-34).

Jesus didn’t forgive others when it was convenient. He forgave those as they were killing Him. In the midst of great pain and suffering He loved and forgave.

When our hearts are heavy with the burdens of betrayal. 

When we feel utterly alone…

We must remember that Jesus the King of Kings, Son of the Living God, was rejected by that which He created.

All of the love of the Father that was poured into mankind and mankind turned away giving the credit, the honor, and the glory to false idols. And not to the One who created it all…

Does this sound familiar to our story that we began with?

We can overcome and we can endure but we must know that these things are coming. 

Those that love God will face rejection, opposition, and betrayal from those closet to them. We will be tested in the furnace of adversity but if we hold true to our faith. We will see that God is what sustains us. He is what fulfills us. And He “will never leave us nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5).

God Bless,

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

Your Window of Opportunity 

In our lives, have you ever noticed that we often self impose limitations upon ourselves thereby diminishing our God given capacity? 

We find excuses based on social judgements, our age, our physical characteristics, or we discredit our own intellectual potential. This can occur for a variety of reasons. The following two reasons occur most frequently:

Our environment- One who is passionately pursuing excellence often suffers when their environment is in turmoil, is negative and condemning, and those in our fellowship often shoot arrows at every accomplishment we make.

We believe the lie: Negative judgements imposed upon us can be some of the most destructive agents in our lives. 
We begin to believe statements such as “you are not good enough, smart enough, old/young enough, or there’s no way you could ever do that.” We begin to listen to the voice of doubt and negativity rather than listen to the inner voice within. 

And anyone that offers encouragement to us is greatly appreciated but then we return our focus again on the lie. That we could never achieve our God given potential.

Let us consider the voice of reason rather than the lies and the voice of doubt. God has a specific purpose for our lives and has many opportunities for us along the road of life. 

We often fail to reach this potential when we listen to the world rather than the one who made us. God gave His Son Jesus in the ultimate act of servant leadership to equip us: 

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

God gave us His word to equip us for every good work:

“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 been given the potential, the resources, and the ultimate advocate. We must then look at our lives and determine our window of opportunity.

Young Leaders: Are you young and passionate but people look down upon you because of your age? 

Mature Leaders: Are you in your 40’s, well trained, zealous for your passion but others discredit you?

Senior Advisor: Are you in your 50’s and 60’s and have spent your life learning, training, and educating others? You are a priceless commodity and your wisdom should be shared. Your life experiences are a living testimony that can inspire others

Elder: Are you in the golden years of your life? These years should be cherished and others should be seeking you out for your wisdom that has been earned through trials, loss, hard work, and tribulation.

What window of opportunity is before you right now? 

Will you allow the negativity of others to diminish your passion because they secretly long be like you but lack the courage? 

Will you move forward into the ring while others dwell in the gray twilight of indecision? 

Will you get up after being knocked down and stare adversity boldly in the eye?

We are “more than conquerors” and “in this world we will have tribulation” but “all things work together for good for those who love God” as we know that Jesus has a plan and hope for us if we would “be strong and courageous” enough to follow Christ when others fall away.

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

Dedication, Discipline, & Discipleship

The fire service will always be a profession of continual learning, training, and education. It is a part of the very identity of the fire service. Our citizens call for help and firefighters respond no matter what the emergency may be. This implies that firefighters must be ready for anything so their learning must be continuous. We are continually adding services to our already large service delivery model requiring a constant discipline of training, education, and development.

In the face of such an overwhelming challenge, how does one stay ahead of the learning curve? 

How does a firefighter continue to evolve, grow, and improve throughout their journey?

How do we grow and master our new skill sets without diminishing our fundamental skills?

The answer is though a concept not foreign to the fire service. And this answer to our future is actually located in our past. We can see that our successful past leaders knew that the future of the fire service was dependent upon their succession planning. These principles are also taught to us in the Bible through Discipleship. 

What is Discipleship? Disciple means learner and its root word comes from the word discipline. As firefighters we know the importance & success of our knowledge, skills, and abilities is based upon our discipline. A respected and mentor firefighter not only believes in discipline, they practice it, model it, and preach a daily discipline that ensures others will be successful as well.

In our faith, the process of Discipleship is about and going forth and sharing what you have learned: The Good News of Jesus Christ! A follower of Christ who is dedicated to prayer, study, worship, and service will be constantly about the business of growing closer to God. This is a discipline that translates across into our daily lives. As mentors and leaders we are constantly sharing what we have learned in our stations, in classes, and on the training grounds. Thus we can see a correlation between the daily discipline of our faith as it also encourages us to be disciplined in all aspects of our lives. To put it simply, if it’s important to us we will know it, share it, and go out of our way so others can do the same. Proverbs gives us insight into this:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) 

Those that stay disciplined also tend to be the ones others look to for answers, guidance, and for instruction. So we can see that our future generations being successful is dependent upon our current daily disciplines. It has been said that one hour of teaching is equal to four hours of preparation. Therefore to share what we have learned from our Mentor ( like Paul in the Bible) needs also to be fueled by the fires of Encouragement (by our brothers & sisters who encourage us such as Barnabas in the Bible). We must then take seriously the gift we have been given by learning, applying, and teaching it to those we Disciple. 

As we Disciple and teach others it reinforces our beliefs, our values, and strengthens the power of our faith just as it does when we teach other firefighters. We must also realize that as we teach others in the fire service, we are given a divine opportunity to influence them with our wisdom, knowledge, and encourage them. 

In these moments of instruction and fellowship, God often opens doors to the hearts of those who are seeking knowledge. As Instructors and Disciple-makers, each of us should pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to be alert for those divine appointments to share the Good News with our brothers and sisters. Our success in sharing our message is greatly dependent on our timing, our delivery, and if we are truly seeking God’s guidance.

Let us consider these principles as a model to help us on our journey through life and the fire service. As we study our fire service curriculum with passion and dedication let us pour an even greater intensity into our study of God’s word so we may be fully equipped to do every good work. 

Remember, our God is a God of relationship and we were not meant to be alone. It is so important to Him that Jesus Christ died on a cross so that we could have a relationship with Him through His Son. So “as you are going” about your journeys invest in the relationships of others. Seek out mentors, encouragers, and “train others up in the way that they should go.” God’s word tells us that “iron sharpens iron” so let us stay sharp through the brotherhood that has been offered to us and continue to keep our fires burning brightly.

May God Bless you all!
Andy J. Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

When Our World Falls Apart…

Is life tearing your world apart?

In the middle of our broken moments….

When we are at our lowest…

Remember the power of a kind word spoken…

Think of those who are also at the end of their rope…

When life attacks and we feel that we are spent…

What if we spoke words of peace and encouragement?

By choosing love instead of anger…

We are rescuing others from danger…

By practicing hope in the face of adversity…

We lift others up and find strength for our trembling knees…

By taking a moment to listen when life consumes us…

We take our focus off our own pain long enough…

To remember that in our fervent prayers that God hears…

The creator of heaven and earth takes time to lend us His ear…

In the broken moments of the journey of our lives…

Remember that “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

May we lift our eyes from our own troubles in the midst of despair…

And though it may last for a season we are not meant to dwell there…

For in the valleys of our lives, others are crying out…

We will never hear there heartfelt cry if we paralyzed by fear & doubt…

Lift others up even when we feel we cannot stand…

And in these moments, God will lift us up in His strong & merciful hands…

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries