Tag Archives: God

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

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

A Consuming Fire

The shift ends, our bodies are tired but our spirits are at ease. The aches and pains of a tired and worn body is worth the contentment we receive by fulfilling our calling.

Thus another day dawns and begins with the rising of the sun, rising of our bodies, but do our spirits rise as high as they once were?

To be truthful, our hearts and minds often grow weary from all of the pain and frustration. 

Our tears often fall in silence in front of only those who hurt like we do. How often do we long for answers to the cruel questions of life?

But then we remember…

What brought us here?

A Passion, A Purpose, A Persistent drive…

An innate desire, an intensity from within, an unshakable belief…

It is what compels us, completes us, and calls us to keep going…

The world won’t understand and many will refuse to listen.

Others will ridicule and mock us from the safety of their indecision.

People we love will walk out of our lives because we have chosen to live this way.

But the peace that passes all understanding remains with us.

An Advocate stays by our side so we are not alone.

The love that never fades nor fails belongs to us from Him.

We will strive, we will thrive, and push forward through it all.

The world will see us knocked down and laugh only to realize.

That when we fall to our knees in our brokenness we acknowledge the source of our strength.

And He fills our spirits daily as we depend upon Him.

We rise out of the ashes of tragedy.

We smile in the face of opposition.

We hurt for those the world has abandoned.

We pray for those who hurt us for we know the emptiness in their heart.

We show up when others don’t, for our heart compels us to!

And when those who don’t understand look at us with amazement and say: 

“Why do you do this? I have never treated you right.”

We take their hand, lift them up, and share the love that that is living within our hearts.

This consuming fire of God’s love will burn through hate, tragedy, and remain when all other fires fade.

This fire can never be extinguished….. NEVER!

It is the Holy Spirit living within us testifying to us all of God’s love. It is as if those around us have been complacent and not filled their bottles and when the flames came they could not withstand the fire for their air ran low. 

Yet we had went to the Father each morning, noon, and night and kept our bottles full. So when our time came we were not shaken and held true to what we believed.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

Today, when our feet stumble and words fall short. 

Let us fill our bottles with the Holy Spirit. 

Let us put on our PPE, the armor of God, and stay ‘combat ready’ for the war of saving souls. 

And pray for the strength from God to lift up our brothers and sisters as we know that God instituted the 2 in 2 out rule as:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; If either of them falls down, once can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

A Burden Never Meant For Us To Carry:

A man sits with his head in his hands weeping. He has just suffered the loss of his wife in a tragic accident. 

In one moment, they were together and in the next a car struck her, taking her young life. As I checked for a pulse in a lifeless and broken body I knew there was no hope for her. I turned to see his eyes only to hear him say:

“Why aren’t you helping her?”

I stood with my arms outstretched and said “I am sorry, she is gone, and there is nothing we can do.” He refused my offer for comfort, pushed me away while screaming “No, No, No.”

In these dark moments, we long to bring comfort the hurting. We wish we could do the impossible. We long to ease their pain and suffering but in reality what can we really offer them?

If we have not suffered the same loss, bore the same burdens, and felt the same pain; how can we truly understand?

However, there is a way and the way has a name: Jesus Christ

For those who believe and know Him in their hearts they also know this about our Lord:

“Because He himself suffered…” (Hebrews 2:18)

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” (Matthew 26:38)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses but we have a high priest who has been tempted in every way-Yet He did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

The great mysteries of why tragic things happen often cloud our perspective. We focus on the pain and forget that God loves us. A wise man was quoted in saying:

“I often wondered which was worse-to suffer great pain or for myself to witness a loved one suffering great pain. I have learned through the sufferings of my loved ones of what it must have cost the Father to give His only Son for us.” (Ravi Zacharias)

The Father gave up His Son for us. How He must have felt as He watched Jesus die on the cross. Yet His plan was greater than we all could comprehend or see through that tragic moment. And for those of us who believe, these moments of tragedy and crisis become something else beyond the world’s ability to comprehend: 

An opportunity to serve….

A chance to show compassion…

A moment to share our heart…

A small offering of our life’s work given in the tangible actions where we show love, compassion, and comfort to those in their last moments..

In these moments, we have a rare opportunity to offer the comfort that we have been comforted with which is the love of Jesus Christ. We call upon God and pray for His guidance moment by moment. We know not the circumstances nor how we will be called upon to serve.

Yet we ask that He would give us a heart big enough to hurt with those around us but not absorb or own their pain. For it is not ours to carry; we only hold it with them for a brief few moments. The post traumatic scars we carry are often from when we take ownership of a burden that was never ours to carry.

For we are to show up, silently comfort by our presence, lift others up, and speak words of comfort IF they are needed and we are led to do so. 

For we are to “bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We are not to own their burdens or try to take the place of God. We are to share the love, comfort, and grace of God with a hurting world in just as Christ did.

May we all learn from our Lord that He knows our pain and He will carry our burdens if we would just let Him do so. For He reminds us to:

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Pray for God’s comfort and His Holy Spirit to equip those who serve so they may offer the greatest gift we can offer to a hurting world:

The Gift of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

When God Whispers To Our Hearts

When God Whispers to Our Heart:

There are moments of regret that I experience from time to time…
They are inescapable, unforgettable, and their memory forever etched into my mind…
These moments are few but so powerful for they have to do with my own ignorance…

I pray so often that God will draw near to me…
I pray that in some divine way that He will speak to me..
And yet I forget that when He speaks I am not always responsive…
I pray and petition yet when the answer comes I don’t always praise…
I ask, seek, and knock then the door opens and I am far away…

When God whispers to our heart it is a soft and gentle touch…
A notion that is often dismissed because we don’t focus on Him enough…
It may not be a brilliant staircase as Jacob saw…

We may not be blinded by light on the road as was Saul..
Yet when it happens, we often deny the occurrence…

We turn to earthly reasons rather than His blessed assurance…
We say, Oh that’s my conscience or merely coincidence…
And then the answer comes, something happens, and our reasons are silenced…
For what has happened there is no answer other than God Himself…
We realize, He spoke, He answered yet we trusted in something else…
Think of how disappointed and broken His heart must be..
Yet He continues to pour out His love & mercy for you and for me…

When an unexplainable voice gives you guidance…
Don’t dismiss it, be distracted, or try to defy it…

The whisper of God will be gentle and point you to Him…
It will be nothing that tempts you or causes you to sin…

Listen and pray every moment of every day…
So you may not live with the regret of missing the words He might say…

For we have felt His presence and dismissed his tender touch..
For we have fallen short and have missed a moment that He predestined for us…

He still speaks, but do we care enough to listen…
Let us seek Him and not dismiss Him..

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

We the Post Traumatic Souls

We the Post Traumatic Souls:

In most cases, the world looks upon its public servants with high regard. There are a few that abuse the position, tarnish its reputation, and damage the public’s trust. As a whole, less than ½ of 1% of public servants abuse their place of public trust. This is percentage better than doctors, lawyers, and even our clergy.

Yet, in the midst of such great trust and such great responsibility there is something that the public doesn’t see. They don’t see what we truly see. They don’t know the burden of the ghosts that haunt our spirits and how we are statistically dealing with these scars in self-destructive ways.

Firefighters, police, and first responders are suffering from PTSD, anxiety & depression, and the number of suicides is on the rise. Why is this so? Is it the one bad call that sets off a chain reaction of a personal firestorm? Or is it the cumulative stress of the things we see daily and then add our struggles that we face in our own lives?

The young woman whose life was taken too soon by a careless drunk driver…

The lifeless infant thrown to you as you arrive with passionate screams from the mother to save her child…

The constant exposure to death, tragedy, difficult personnel problems with no consistent sleep…

And when we do sleep is often interrupted by flashbacks, shaking, or jolted awake by the tones for another call for help…

The constant exposure of everyone else’s tragic circumstances does not leave the servant unscathed…

In fact, we often carry these personal moments with death us. Without our knowledge, their moments become part of us, begin to affect our daily actions and relationships, and soon our lives begin to unravel from the sheer stress and weariness of carrying the weight of too many losses.

This is where we begin…

Where we realize that their deaths and pain were not ours to own…

We need to understand our role was to help even if there was seemingly nothing we could do…

Our very presence brought assurance, comfort, and in some ways closure for others…

But when those who have lost loved ones, we do them a great disservice by our refusal to let them go…

For many who have lost those dear to them, they will always have a scar on their heart but yet they will move on…

For us to hold on to their pain, to relive it, to feel regret is to prevent the living from healing…

We don’t realize it, our subconscious repeats the incident, and hypervigilance seems to steal our peace…

But we must understand, when a funeral happens it is not for the dead but for the living…

So they may grieve, so they may heal, so they may say goodbye…
We the post traumatic souls refuse to let them go, the dead are restless as they constantly re-live their last moments in our minds…

We blame ourselves, we pour our pain away through prescriptions, alcohol, trying to cover the pain with poison…

When what we really need more than anything is peace…
Yet tragically, so many seek this peace by ending their own lives…

The desperation of the moment, the lack of sleep, and the stress of it all diminishes their focus and they believe the lie of the enemy that suicide is their solution…

And then they die not realizing that by their actions they have laid another restless soul upon another’s heart…

Their death and loss becomes another’s burden and we repeat this cycle…

So what do we do? How do we let go of all this pain and begin to heal?

Post-Traumatic Stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Our bodies reacting with all of the symptoms are the effects of the collateral damage of catastrophes crashing through our attempts at resiliency. We need to realize that we are HUMAN! We need each other and we need help bearing these burdens. We need the peace of God in our hearts that comes not from this world but from a settled assurance that the overwhelming circumstances of our lives are reconciled. In Philippians, Paul reminds us to:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Did you hear that? “The peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace comes from knowing that we have been reconciled to God not because we are worthy, not because of anything we have done, but because we the broken and contrite have come to the foot of the cross and realized that the scar in our souls can only be healed by the one who loved us so much that He died for us.

Paul understood the burdens of a weary soul. He lived a life in which he persecuted, arrested, and had Christians murdered. He must have awoke many nights reliving those moments and feeling great sorrow for his past. Yet, He was able, by the grace of God, not only to move forward but to minister, to plant churches, and write most of the New Testament (to name a few of the mighty works God did through an imperfect and sinful man).

We need to realize, that no matter our past our pain and tragic moments are not meant to be our permanent address. Grief and sorrow have their purpose and we are meant to feel these emotions but we are not meant to dwell there forever. To do so is to reject the gift of God and create a prison of hell and torment while we are on earth and this is what the Devil would have us do.

“For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (Lamentations 3:31-33).

The challenge we face as servants to our fellow man in their last moments is not to take ownership of them nor to let those moments own us. They do not define us but yet refine us. If we don’t seek help, these moments can collectively destroy us. We who have been greatly tested can either courageously share our testimony or we can become bitter and alone. We can take post-traumatic stress and as we heal in time can show post traumatic growth by ministering to others who suffer as we did. We can remember what we have been through but not relive it. We can look in the eyes of the hurting servant first responder and truthfully say “Many will tell you that they know how you feel but they don’t. However, I do know how you feel and I don’t have all the answers but I will listen, I will be here, and I will walk with you as you heal.”

May we all come to know the peace that passes understanding…

May we all have the courage to seek help in our broken moments…
May we all turn our tragic moments of pain into testimonies that we share to help those experiencing the same…

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Please see our resources that are available on the Firefighter May-Day Page for more information on how to receive help or how to help others:

Firefighter May-Day

Minimum Standards Maximum Requirements

Minimum Standards Maximum Requirements:
 
As a firefighter who has served many years, many can say that they have seen numerous examples of firefighters and employees. A firefighter can be defined as one who lives out their calling consistently, gives without though of recognition, and is always working to improve their capabilities to serve their fellow man.
 
An employee, may be considered as one who only seeks to meet the minimum standards. In many cases there are those who somehow maintain the title of firefighter yet fail to do the work necessary to be a firefighter. They wear a uniform, they look the part, yet when the call for service comes they are often found hiding from work, producing excuses why they could not complete the job required of them, and all the while they never claim any accountability nor responsibility for their negligence.
 
We can see the same type of examples in our daily lives: in our faith, in our families, and our commitment to our communities. In this way, we see many individuals refuse to believe or walk away from God due to the minimum standard Christians or those who claim the title yet abuse the calling they fail to live out. As James tells us “Faith without works is useless” (James 2:20b). People need to see our faith and see it lived out in our lives not just in church.
 
Many of us were either raised in church or know about God but there is large percentage of firefighters today who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. There are many firefighters today who have been seeking a relationship with Christ but have been “put off” by “believers” whose hypocrisy shined through their false beliefs. There are also many firefighters who are hurting, suffering in their marriages, and many others issues who feel lost. They are desperately seeking hope yet many Christians fail to share the hope of Jesus Christ with them.
 
With that being said, just what does it mean to have accepted Christ?
 
How do we as firefighters who save others become saved by Jesus?
 
But what if your heart is the one in need of rescue?
 
What if after reading all of this you are feeling a great burden and pain within your soul?
 
Many of us today would like to have a relationship with Jesus but have hesitated or walked away from our faith. The three primary reasons that people often cite for not believing in Jesus are as follows:
 
1) Anger at God: Many have suffered greatly and feel angry towards a God who would allow such circumstances or tragedy to have occurred in their lives.
 
2) Claim without consistency: Many have felt the desire to have a relationship with Jesus but have fallen away because of the hypocrisy of other believers. They look upon those who claim to be Christians and see how they woefully misrepresent the faith that they claim.
 
3) Too many unanswered questions: Many individuals have pursued a relationship with Christ but have many tough questions that few have been able to answer such as: If God is a loving God how could He send someone to hell, Why do bad things happen to good people?, and the list goes on.
 
In our lives as firefighters we can all relate to these questions. We can recall the times when a child died, we lost a friend in the line of duty or to suicide, and or a tragic circumstance occurred that hurt us greatly all of which can contribute to becoming angry. We can understand the first reason for unbelief, because if we are truly honest, we have all experienced it. We have all doubted, all cried out in anguish, and begged God for answers but why are we really angry?
 
Because we all desperately want answers!
 
We save people yet we were often unable to save those in our lives that have been lost. We blame God and shake our fists at Him crying out Why God? Yet who are we really angry at? If we took the time to reflect we may find that our anger is truly directed at ourselves. We blame God because we cannot bear the weight of such a burden. We hurt and feel that He has abandoned us in our plight. Yet in reality, He has never left us nor forsaken us. Many of us have dictated our faith rather than submitted to Jesus as Lord basically telling God that we would have followed God if God would just go our way.
 
The second reason why many individuals fail to believe in Jesus Christ is the hypocrisy of other Christians. One doesn’t have to look very hard to see this all around us. We see Pastors who have fallen from the pulpit due to sex scandals, Christians who are divorced or their marriage is in shambles, and we see those who claim to be Christians treating others around them harshly.
 
Yet, I would ask you to consider these words for a moment:
“Never judge a belief system by those who choose to abuse it” (Ravi Zacharias).
 
What do I mean by this statement? If we as firefighters base our reason for not believing in Jesus Christ due to the hypocrisy of others what would happen if we applied that same logic to our professional lives? Would we refuse to go to work as firefighters because there are hypocritical firefighters within our firehouses? Would we stop working out because there are out of shape individuals in our work-out groups or gyms? Would we stop being faithful in our marriages because the divorce rate is so high? I believe we have come full circle on this point. We now see that we cannot base our reason for unbelief on the hypocrisy of others. We have to base our reason for belief on our own hearts, minds, and souls. We must base our belief on our personal decision to do so and not our circumstances, our hurts, or our anger at those who claim to be Christians.
 
The third reason that is often cited for not believing is one of the most difficult to face. This is the fact that there are too many unanswered questions in regards to our faith. Perhaps, you have wondered about these difficult questions? As firefighters, we see a problem and we respond with a well-trained, properly equipped, group of individuals who rapidly mitigate a chaotic situation. But how do we respond so well to the unanswered questions of others? When their house is burning down, their loved one lies lifeless on the floor, or their child is choking we respond with intentional actions that resort in resolution because of our knowledge, our training, and our passion to help others. What if we applied this same logic to this reason for unbelief? What if we looked upon those unanswered questions of life and begin to study God’s word, got involved with a group of believers who can guide us, and began to seek answers in prayer? How do you think our mindset might change?
 
If you have walked through these questions and feel that a tug at your heart please don’t ignore it. God is reaching through the flames of your life and is pleading with you to take His hand. He is saying to you “I love you so much that my Son died on a cross so that you may live. And He lives today and will come into your heart and forgive you! He will walk with you through your life. He will give you comfort in the midst of the fires of life. And He will set you free from any burden that is holding you prisoner if you will believe in Him”
 
This is the point where we take action. It is not where we feel inspired and only go thus far. Take the next step and accept Christ, rededicate your life, renew your marriage, reconcile your differences, and look to these resources to get you started on your journey:
 
Fellowship of Christian Firefighters International offers free bible studies, access to Bibles, free daily devotionals, resources on how to start a local chapter or small group and so much more! President Craig Duck is a retired DC firefighter who has a passion for ministry and is doing tremendous things for the fire service from hosting online Bible Studies, men’s retreats, a yearly marriage conference, and they just released a new outreach Bible called “Rescued.” Please check them out and be encouraged knowing that there many brothers and sisters in this wonderful organization who can help you in your faith journey no matter what mile marker you are on.
 
http://www.fellowshipofchristianfirefighters.com/index.cfm?Section=1
 
247 Commitment by Lori and Dan Mercer: This organization was started by Lori Mercer as she shared a blog post about the challenges of fire family marriages over four years ago. They have since grown to a thriving online community for fire wives, numerous resources for marriage and family, the honor guard for men, and the new book release which can be considered a standard operating guideline for fire families entitled Honor and commitment. There is even a free book for fire families available. Please check this site out, as I am friends with Lori and Dan, and I personally believe in their mission. They are doing tremendous things for fire families from commitment weekends, to developing resources, and speaking at conferences.
 
http://247commitment.org/about-247-commitment/
 
God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

The Furnace of Adversity 

The Furnace of Adversity:

One who studies leadership will continue to find this scene repeated time and time again throughout history: 

Leaders will be attacked.

No matter whether the leader is one of integrity or one of falsehood it is a verifiable fact that leaders will be attacked, persecuted, and falsely accused.

In fact, the greater the moral integrity or dedication to one’s calling the greater the opposition one can expect. 

The greater the achievements for the sake of the call not out of recognition the more quickly they will be forgotten by an angry mob crying out against them.

The more the leader gives without others knowing of his/her sacrifice the more the angry followers will point out what the leader hasn’t done.

How do we know this to be true?

A leader came to His own people long ago, yet they failed to recognize Him…

A leader drew others to Him and trained them up to lead the way in His absence, yet they deserted Him…

A leader healed the sick, fed the poor, stood up for the sinner yet they abandoned Him in His moment of need…

This leader was arrested at night (which by their own law was illegal)…

This leader had a trial with paid false witnesses…

This leader was tried, whipped, and executed the same day (which was also illegal according to their own law). 

This leader was like none other for He had the power to stop all of this from happening yet He did not…

This leader knew His mission and was obedient unto death even death upon a cross…

This leader when spat upon, struck, and whipped did not strike back; He remained steadfast…

This leader when hanging on a cross in terrible agony forgave those who hurled insults upon Him…

For several hours He repeated this statement:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

This leader after enduring all of this laid down His life and did not allow the Roman soldiers to take it…

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

The sky went dark, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, and tombs split open allowing the dead to rise…

All of this occurred and yet many still doubted…

This leader rose again after all that had been done to Him and sought out the lost…

It has been said the definition of steadfast is to remain under the load. To hold steadfast is to remain under the great pressures of life, unwanted burdens, false accusations, and the sins of others. Jesus remained steadfast in the face of overwhelming adversity and yet He did not sin. He did not return evil for evil, he did not exact revenge, and after all that was done to Him He forgave them.

Why? Why would someone endure all of this for those who failed to recognize or appreciate Him?

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

Perhaps you are in a difficult place today?

The world seems to be falling apart around you and those that were closest to you have abandoned you…

The world has heaped anger, slander, and persecuted you all for following the Word of God which is Jesus Christ.

Take hope today that by the power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that those who once persecuted Him came to believe and were saved.

This was done by the power of His redeeming love. So if you have given up on many and feel hopeless remember the the thief on the cross who at the last minute realized who Jesus was. And what did Jesus do for him?

Jesus said to him

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

So don’t give up! Remain steadfast in hope, in prayer, and in faithfulness to Him that endured far more than we can imagine. He did this so all may be saved:

 “if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Remain steadfast,

Andy J. Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Suicide on the Installment Plan

Suicide on the Installment Plan:

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

Many times, we overlook the distant look in a fellow firefighter’s eyes. Slowly, with the constant assault on our heart we begin to die on the inside. 

It begins with a look, an act of omission, choosing to remove oneself, and the very lines on our face can tell more than many of us would like to admit about the condition of our heart. 

We blindly and foolishly believe that we can move through our days and function without others realizing that we are silently suffering on the inside. 

Our behaviors give us away and cry out to others what our prideful selves refuse to do. We are showing signs of a tremendous fire inside our hearts, slowly burning, choked down but not out. 

In these moments, if not careful we can hurt others in so many ways. We push others away and build walls around our hearts. 

We seal off our emotions as if they were a hazardous material that no one should touch. 

Yet in reality, we have been hurt so deeply that we would rather suffer in solitude than allow anyone else into our world that may hurt us again.

But do we realize that our defensive efforts are actually destructive ones to others and ourselves?

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

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

If we are not careful, we are leading others down the same dark path as we assume our defensive posture. 

What can we do?

We cannot continue nor allow others to suffer alone. We must not let these brothers or sisters think that no one cares for them. They are carrying a sign around their neck that is printed in bold letters:

“HELP ME!”  

Those who suffer in this way is a slow and gradual death. It is suicide on the installment plan. Day by day a piece of them dies right in front of the world yet no one says or does anything about it.

Will we as leaders, friends, and believers take the time to speak words of comfort?

Will we take the time to listen to them?

Will we take the time to care?

Will we be so focused on saving lives that we fail to save the lives that are dying right in front of us?

Will we shine His light into their darkness?

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

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

Let us ask ourselves:

Would we want to be treated as they are being treated? 

Don’t we realize that their behaviors are a cry for help? 

Who will help them? 

We save others but yet we are failing to save ourselves…

As leaders we cannot ignore their silent cries that says more than words can ever say. We cannot ignore them no more than a person hanging from a fiery window screaming for help. 

Those that we know who carry these burdens are trapped at a fiery window and only those in their fellowship, those closest to them, will be able to make the rescue if they act in time.

Take the time to share Jesus with them. Be the brother or sister that they need when the call comes in. Don’t wait, respond and make the greatest rescue: The rescue of a broken life. Give them the greatest gift that you can give: The gift or your compassionate presence. You will never regret it.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries