Tag Archives: Jesus

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

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

Suffering from Firefighter Burn-out?

Suffering from Firefighter Burn-Out? Read this:

What is work to us as firefighters?

Is it burdensome or bothersome?

Or is it the place where our passion is pursued and a part of ourselves receives fulfillment?

Have the days of feeling satisfaction from a job well done long past?

Has the loss of morality and the endorsement of situational ethics caused us to lose hope in our work and our leaders?

Has the world of instant answers caused us to quit at the slightest sign of adversity?

Have we considered our own work ethic?

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Have we forgotten the value of:

Sweat falling from our brow…
Sore muscles from pushing past our limits…
Knowledge gained from a relentless pursuit of learning…
Making a difference and bearing the scars of our work…

We must ask ourselves-does this exist anymore in our eyes but do these aforementioned areas matter to us?

My friends, the loss of work ethic is more tragic than we may realize. If we are unwilling to work hard, to seek out answers, and to push past our limits because its too hard or the world has beat us down; then how quickly will we quit on those we love when life becomes too hard for us then? 

Those who have a shallow work ethic will sacrifice little, slander much, and eat food that they never earned and brag about accomplishments & knowledge they don’t have.

Those who sacrifice much for the benefit of others may have little material gain but will lay their heads down in peace. Their hearts will not be in turmoil nor suffer from moral bankruptcy. 

Those whose work ethic is pure will not conform to the pattern of the world even when it hurts.

“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:1-2)

So what is a living sacrifice? It is to offer the best of one self to God in spite of opposition. 

It is to offer our heart and soul to God even when the world continues to do evil and prosper. 

It is to be obedient to our belief in Him rather than giving into our selfish desires. 

It is to be broken and contrite but knowing that this is when God takes our empty hearts and fills it with His Spirit. 

It is to take hold of a new strength that is not our own. 

It is to fall upon our knees only to rise being lifted by the strong shoulders of Jesus. 

This is the work ethic that we must return to:

To work with all our might as if Jesus is our boss. For if He is truly our Lord, affirmation from others isn’t necessary nor required. 

If Christ is our focus, the hard work we put forth is not in vain but will be another star in our crown. 

For if we are carving our efforts into others hearts and not into plaques or certificates the dividends that will be paid to us will be in one powerful statement as we enter the gates of heaven:

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:21

Let us strive to live a life that is well done by God’s standard. May our work ethic remain steadfast and run the race until He calls us home. For our finish line is not made by human hands. 

Our efforts are not in vain and God is not overlooking our struggles. He is merely waiting upon our requests to be renewed, refilled, and strengthened by His Spirit. 

When we have reached the place where we realize we cannot do it by our own work ethic we have begun the journey to a significant existence rather than a successful one.

God Bless,
Andy J. 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