Tag Archives: leader

Raising Our Children Well

Raising Our Children Well:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

The Forgotten Ones

It is a commonly known fact that those that care for others the most often receive the least care or concern in return…
 
It is commonly known that those who give the most of themselves, who bear their souls, and lift up others in prayer often suffer in silence with their own struggles of sin and pain…
 
To those who call out from the depths of despair…
When you have walked through the darkness of your circumstance…
Take a moment and remember thankfully those who were there…
 
For many laborers make light work of one’s burdens…
Yet too often, when the burden is lifted…
The hurting hearts are healed and the helper is left hurting…
 
When your pain blinds our perspective where you feel that no one cares…
Stand up, open up our eyes, and see the multitude…
Who have been long standing there…
 
Standing alongside with those who have felt abandoned…
Shedding tears with the broken and the forgotten…
Praying for those who aren’t aware…
That many are lifting them up in fervent, passionate, and heartfelt prayer…
 
There are those who hold another’s pain only for a brief moment…
There are those who listen with compassion, intently focused, on the hearts that are broken…
There are those who keep your confidence of your darkest & innermost pain…
There are those who do this, daily, again, and again…
 
They take that phone call at the worst possible time…
They show up when all hope is lost and everyone has gone…
They hold your hand, hold your heart, and never let go of the line…
 
They have sacrificed, lost, and often fall ill…
They have done all of this not for fame or fortune…
They have cared deeply because of the love of the One…
The One who gave it all in spite of our sin…
The One who lived, loved, and died, and rose again…
 
He is the reason that there are those who care so much…
He has changed their heart, enlarged it, and filled it with His love…
They do all these things and more in the name of God’s Son…
They do all of this even though that they are often forsaken, persecuted…
And even though they help those who are lost, they are often the forgotten ones…
 
We say we “Never Forget”, I challenge you today to Never Forget those who have lifted you up, cared when no one else did, and listened when all others walked away…
 
Let us not forget those who care enough to “bear one another’s burdens” for they often are bearing great burdens of their own.
 
God Bless,
Andy Starnes

The Mission Statement 

The Mission of Bringing Back Brotherhood:

Do you have a mission statement? Do you understand what your purpose is? In life, we often need maps to get where we are going yet many choose to journey through life without seeking their true purpose. I encourage you to seek the one who made you and find your true purpose, your mission, and your fulfillment: Jesus Christ.

So how did I find my mission statement?

The fire service had become a spiritual detriment to me but then God opened the eyes of this blind firefighter and showed me what it truly is: a great spiritual opportunity to encourage one another!

With that in mind, God began the process. He wiped away the bitterness that had become part my soul. He replaced it with compassion for those who had hurt, betrayed, and drained my soul. 

This lost firefighter has been found and now has begun to see others as God sees them. Firefighters everywhere are silently hurting, they need encouragement, and the painful realization that occurred is that God had not failed them. It was the firefighter (me) who had failed. I chose to let the world drain my passion. I allowed others to change my attitude. I drank the poison of bitterness and blamed the world. I accused others of stealing his joy but in reality he gave it away.

Thus the mission was born…

A mission born out of my own brokenness…

A mission born out of my own hypocrisy…

A mission born by being reborn through Jesus Christ….

The mission of Bringing Back Brotherhood is to encourage first responders, firefighters, and all emergency services personnel with the hope of Jesus Christ. The hope that those who read these pages will experience an awakening; their passion will be re-ignited, their mind will be renewed, and their heart will be transformed. That when we look upon our brothers and sisters in the fire service we would see them as Christ did:

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38)

This message in these pages will be shared through the vulnerable and often painful moments that we all face. And that no matter what we have been through, or mistakes we have made, or pain that we have suffered that we are now uniquely qualified to help others. This is the power of our living testimony showing that we can endure, we can make a difference, and no matter the circumstances: “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Through the power of sharing our lives and what God has done; therein lies the bridge to connect to our brothers and sisters who feel lost. If you have felt the call, the inner desire to do something more, here is an offering. An offering of one firefighters desire to light a fire in others; the offering of a broken heart that has been healed through Jesus Christ. An offering of pain, tears, and tribulation as an open book to you in the hopes that you will look to the one who will always provide.  

If you have become lost that you will come home. Know that there is one who is searching for you and He wants you to come back home. The Ultimate Primary Search is being conducted for your heart and He will not stop until you are found. He offers you hope, comfort, and encouragement that the world can never take away. Begin your journey home today! Don’t let the world destroy our calling, let’s Bring Back Brotherhood one changed life at a time beginning with our own life!

God Bless,

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

 

 

 

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

Taking off the Helmet

Taking off the Helmet:

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

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

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

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

The truth is:

Our families need fathers not firefighters…

Our children need their mother not managers…

Our wives need husbands not heroes…

Our husbands need wives not warriors…

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

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

Our children need leadership and guidance not forced compliance…

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

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

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

The saves we make as firefighters pale in comparison to…

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

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

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

Let us not forget our place nor our calling…

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

It means that if we truly embrace our calling…

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

By placing our relationships first and our rank last…

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

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

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

God Bless,

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

The Loneliness of Leadership

The Loneliness of Leadership:

Statistically, there are fewer leaders today due to many reasons but what those who choose not to lead often fail to realize is this:

Those who step up and lead are not perfect.

Those who choose the lead are not better than anyone else nor think more of themselves; in fact they often struggle with insecurity and doubt more than you know.

Those who lead are often maligned, slandered, and opposed by those who would rather criticize than do the hard work of resolving long standing issues that leaders tackle head on.

Those who choose to lead suffer from depression as they often wonder if there efforts are worth it. Many leaders fail to see the fruit of their labor in their own lifetime yet they keep working.

Those who choose the lead care more about others and their calling than they do about themselves. And they often suffer divorce and relational conflict because the majority cannot understand why they sacrifice so much to receive so little.

Those who choose to lead are often the first to suffer from political, personal, and spiritual attacks because the devil doesn’t come after the complacent.

Those who choose to care enough to fulfill the calling on their own heart have smaller bank accounts but have dividends paid to them by the lives they impact.

Those who step in front of adversity and take the brunt of a punishment of a wrong that was not their own understand that they were made to shield those in their influence.

Those who spend sleepless nights on projects, plans, and praying fervently for change in a world that often rejects them will not be forgotten.

Those who love while others hate and withhold harsh words in the face of those who spit anger at them are stronger than we realize.

Those who lift up the broken only do so because they know that they too were once lifted up by someone else.

In closing, if you know a leader who works fervently, know that you only see a portion of their efforts. In reality, they never stop. 

So the next time you feel like criticizing the leaders around you; take a moment and consider these words mentioned here. Consider that they care about the mission and people so much that they are willing to endure such hardship not for recognition but for the sake of an outcome that only God and they can see.

Support our leaders! Pray for them and their families! Take a moment and look around you. The things you enjoy currently may have been bought and paid for by a lifetime of personal sacrifice. Let us not destroy our future by attacking those who work to improve it.

God Bless,
Andy Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The Shareholders Meeting

The Shareholders Meeting:

In a dimly lit room holding about thirty individuals from various countries, backgrounds, and experience levels all sat conversing their vested interest in a precious commodity. There were questions posed from those transitioning from one point of leadership to another. There were questions asked from those just beginning their journey in investing in this commodity. Thoughts were provoked, hearts were stirred, and the young and the elder sat at the same table without rank or recognition all for the same reason:

“The Fire Service”

Men and women sacrifice their time, their monies, their health, and yes even their lives for this investment. It is not bought nor sold yet it has a market all to itself. It requires more than a millionaire can offer yet only those with hearts dedicated enough to serve stay vested long enough for their service to pay the true dividends that it offers.

These shareholders are like none other. They take ownership in not some mere piece of paper whose value changes with the wind. They take ownership in a calling unlike any other that says we care, we will be there, and we will answer when no one else will. They show up whether paid or volunteer. They refuse to accept the diminishing minimum standards that are set by those who are blind to the maximum requirements of this position. These shareholders cannot be bought nor sold. Their integrity is like precious metals that are forged in the furnace of adversity. Their drive is unshakable even when all has been taken from them they continue to give.

These men and women do not ask for reward nor recognition. They do not care for words of praise. What they desire is something seldom offered to them. They long for the chance to serve and the means to do so. Yet in the face of a world that continues to lay-off firefighters, close fire stations, and reduce our capabilities to serve we the fire service continue to serve even when the world tries to tie our hands.

In departments where there is no “2 out” because the powers that be said they weren’t needed; rest assured there will be “2 in.” What the taxpayer and the average citizen may not know, is these shareholders look upon their citizens lives, their families lives, and the chance to make a difference as their most important investment. These shareholders won’t be bound nor limited by policy but by principles and by passion. They refuse to be patronized by politicians who only want their votes yet pull the plug on their brothers and sisters benefits. They will not speak words of slander nor defame anyone’s character yet they will answer the call of the poor, that same politician, the elderly, and all who are in need.

This is what these shareholders desire from us all. For us to remember, that no matter the political climate they will continue to invest. No matter the shackles placed upon them by reduced manpower they will continue to answer. The Shareholders of this precious commodity known as the Fire Service ask one thing:

Remember Them!

For they have not forgotten you….

Signed, a fellow shareholder…

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

A Practical Working Creed

A Practical Working Creed:

As firefighters, we often view our work from a different paradigm than most other professions. Many individuals view work as a curse or an unnecessary burden. Many of the personal problems of today can be traced back to individuals who are unhappy with their chosen profession. Yet those of us fortunate enough to be firefighters look upon our profession as a calling and not a career. This calling causes us to go above the minimum standards that the world requires. 

What then sets our calling apart from the rest? 

As firefighters, we give more than we receive as we have seen many sacrifice their very lives for the sake of others. We often look for opportunities to serve that are far above and beyond the mission of saving lives and property. This is exemplified when we see firefighters who finished cutting a citizen’s lawn after he was transported to the hospital, or those who bought a new football for a group of kids in their neighborhood who were playing with a worn out one, and when we see firefighters taking the time to excel in their knowledge, skills, and abilities to better serve their communities. Many firefighters pursue additional training off duty. They read, teach, volunteer, and help others not out of a desire for recognition but out of the desire to help others. In a sense, those who believe that firefighting is a calling are committed at a level that the world cannot understand. 

So one must ask, what causes us to give of ourselves at such a level?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, 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)

Whether an individual believes in God or not, the calling in them will often be described as a passionate one. Passion can be described as an unshakable drive from within us to make a difference in the world around us. Thus our passion often leads to our purpose. 

If our passion leads to our purpose, who has placed this passion within our hearts? How does one explain the unshakable desire to serve others, to make a difference, and to serve others in their moments of crisis?

What if the drive that is within us, this passionate purpose, is more than our heartfelt service to our fellow man? What if the very purpose of this calling is for us to be a tangible example of Jesus Christ to others through our servant leadership? What if our purpose is to lead others to Christ?

Consider the life of Jesus for a moment:

He came not to be served but to serve. The very son of God humbled Himself and took on the form of a servant. He went and sought out those in need. He feed them, healed them, comforted them, raised the dead, taught and forgave them. Yet He came to His own and His own refused to receive Him. 

In Matthew 9:35-38 we see the example of Christ and His love for us. “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 

Have we considered that the calling within us, this passionate drive, is God calling to our hearts: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Will we be one of the few? Many believe that the fire service is a spiritual detriment but in fact it is truly a spiritual opportunity. It is a tremendous mission field in which we can serve our fellow man, we can touch the hearts of the broken, and we can minister to one another. Without ever speaking a word, we can share the love of Christ with another through our heartfelt compassionate care. With our exemplary work ethic we can show others that our drive to become better is out of a greater love that is within us for our God and for our families. This calling is a practical working creed that is bestowed upon our hearts as we are predestined for good works:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Our drive to not become complacent in our work ethic comes from our desire to please our one and true commander in Chief:

“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).

And the very fires we fight, the lives we save, are reflections of the gratitude within us for Christ has saved us. The living sacrifice we make, the service we give, and the compassion we show are living sermons for the world to read. 

“Remember the sermons we live are more powerful than the ones we simply preach. People don’t look at what we say, they examine what we do!” Pastor David Chadwick.

Work as if you were working for the Lord. Realize that the greatest recognition we could ever receive is to hear the words “well done my good & faithful servant.” The marks we carve are not on stone but on the hearts of those we are blessed to lead & watch over.

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes