Tag Archives: LODD

In One Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In one moment, our lives can suddenly change…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We thought we would stand and give God our explanation…

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

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

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

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

This is the promise from God that cannot be broken…

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

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

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

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

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

He gave it all so that we may live…

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

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

 

 

 

This is My Fire House

Welcome to my fire house, it is like no other…
 
Here we answer the call of the needy, the hurting, and bring calm to the chaos…
 
This is my fire house, a place of provision, security, and accountability all in one…
 
Here we eat together, pray together, play together, and share our burdens…
 
This is my fire house, it is like no other for only here can we be real with one another…
 
Here we fight, argue, and occasionally have times of discord….
 
This my fire house, four walls that house those who go out to serve the world…
 
Here we ventilate, open up, extricate, and bring life back to one another…
 
This is my fire house, where training isn’t optional it’s a part of our life…
 
Here we read, we discipline, we exercise, and we practice to be prepared…
 
This is my fire house, it is like no other, for I am responsible for those under its roof…
 
Here we watch over one another, we take care of one another, and our daily actions are the proof…
 
This is my fire house, it is like no other for we have good times, dark times, and experience loss…
 
Here we shed tears, we shed blood and sweat, and remembering those that we have lost…
 
This is my fire house, a place of solace and peace for those that are blessed to dwell…
 
Here we speak of heaven, praise God, and together we have been through hell…
 
This is my fire house, a place of rest for the weary and a place to come home to…
 
You see this isn’t a fire station filled with trucks and equipment…
This is my home with my wife, my daughter, and the love that fills it…
 
You may have thought of the fire house with those that you love…
And that is a special place as well, but first remember what we have been given from above…
 
Remember your family, your spouse, your children and how we respond to them…
 
Remember their desperate calls for help when they need their dad, their mom, and their friend…
 
Remember how you train, how you work, and how you would give your life for them…
 
Remember how no matter when the moment strikes you will always answer the call…
 
For this is your fire house, the one given to you from above and it should be placed above all…
 
God has given you a family, those under your care that you are to fight for…
 
This is our greatest blessing, our greatest calling, and the reason we train so tirelessly for…
 
This is my fire house, and I will fight the fires of life with those entrusted to my care…
 
We will train ourselves up in the way we should go and always be there….
 
This is my fire house, a place of shelter, protection, provision, and peace…
 
Those that dwell here will respond to each other, to others, and the last, lost, and the least…
 
For Jesus is our Commander in Chief and we seek his direction daily…
 
We may fail, we may fall down, but He walks with us through the fires ever so bravely…
 
He will never leave nor forsake therefore we will stand together through it all…
 
Knowing that this is my fire house, that He has equipped those within it to answer the call…
 
God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries.

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse:

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

As firefighters, we don’t like to admit that we often hurt. Not just a physical pain from our work but an inner torment. We often push down the emotions from the things we see, the struggles in our own lives, and the stress we experience. Then in one moment, we erupt as if our emotional pressure relief valve gives up. The tears come and they fall like rain. Perhaps, in this moment we could take the time to remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also shed tears.

Jesus experienced the same emotions that you and I feel. Every one of us has shed tears, tears of joy, and tears of sadness.  We will face trying times and some of these moments will seem impossible for us to deal with.  And as a follower of Christ, the more that we work for Him, the higher position we rise to, the greater the opposition we will face. It is a certainty that has been foretold by Jesus and lived out by Him and all of those who have followed Him.

“If you want to be my follower you must love Me more than your own father & mother, wife, and children, brothers, sisters-yes more than your own life.” (Luke 14:26)

In John 15:18-25 Jesus predicts our coming persecutions:

18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master. ’If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin.  Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not have sin. Now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened so that the statement written in their scripture might be fulfilled: They hated Me for no reason.

Many of us have fallen away when we have suffered for the sake of Christ but we must remember the words in 1 Peter 4:12-19.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

 

And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty,

What will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.”

Every person that we can read about in the Bible struggled, suffered, and wept. Yet, do we realize there is such a thing as tears of joy. The actual chemical composition of tears of sadness and tears of joy are actually different. So when we feel the emotions flood our hearts let us not suppress them let us embrace them and remember:

God counts every one of our tears:

“Thou numberest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; Are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8

God Himself has shed tears:

“Jesus wept” John 11:35

God will wipe away our tears:

“4 and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. “(Revelation 21:4)

The tears of joy and sadness in life will come but let them fall knowing that God the Father counts every one, God the Son has shed tears, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes one day. We can take comfort Jesus was “made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since He himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)

We are to remember that this world is the training grounds for heaven. We are made for a higher purpose, predestined for good works, and He will use all things to work together for our good and His glory if we will yet trust in Him. Hold the line, don’t let stop fighting the fires of your life, and remember He is with us though it all.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

 

 

Bad Night? Time for a Change in Perspective

How often have you ever left the fire station beaten down after being up all night?

“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

Inevitably, someone will ask you “So, how was your night?” and we respond “We had a bad night.” This morning, as I left the fire station I contemplated the phrase “bad night.”

A firefighter had died yesterday in the line of duty in another part of our country. Here I sit, in my car, driving home alive and well complaining about a “bad night.” My chest tightened and I felt a pain in my heart of regret as I thought:

Really? You are complaining…

It’s time for a reality check. Those of us, myself included, who have been guilty of complaining about doing our job, need to take a long look in the mirror. We signed up to do this job and to answer the call.

Why should any of us complain when we have to do our job?

We should be thankful that we have a job that we love and that we made it through our shift alive and well. On average, every three days a firefighter dies in the Line of Duty.  Every three days that we work and come home to our families someone does not. For every shift, we come home bitter; there is a family who would do anything to have their loved one back.

Is our attitude reflecting one of gratitude?

Do we really understand how blessed we are?

The calling of a firefighter is one of the greatest jobs in the world. So why do so many of us become bitter and angry. We begin to become ungrateful, not realizing how blessed we are.

The fire service consists of 1.2 million firefighters in the United States today. Each year, 100 firefighters die in the Line of Duty on average.

When will we understand that our job is inherently dangerous and that each day that we go home is a “Good Day” and not a “Bad Night?”

Each day that we get to serve our fellow man and make a positive impact in the midst of tragic circumstances is a good day. Let us not take our moments, our blessings, and our calling for granted.

To continue to do so is to disrespect the memories of those who have fallen in the Line of Duty. We all should take a moment and pray for the families of those grieving and hug our families every chance we get.

May God Bless those that serve and May God give rest to those who have answered the final call.

Everyone Goes Home-Will your family be there?

Everyone Goes Home-Will your family be there?

The fire service is an occupation like none other. It is one of brotherhood, sacrifice, and courage. It is a second family that we are grafted into the day we become a firefighter.

As a firefighter we work many hours acquiring our necessary certifications, degrees, and work hard to maintain a level of combat readiness mentally and physically.

A firefighter who is truly passionate about their calling possesses the ability to influence, change, and positively impact other lives in profound ways.

But then there is the dark side of our ambition that is not often talked about…

As we progress through our career we begin to work harder at making a difference and our efforts begin to pay off.

We have become well-respected, teach/train/mentor others, and we are highly sought after for our expertise. The trouble lies in the earlier statement:

The fire department is our second family. Approximately 75% (9 out of 12) of firefighters will suffer a divorce.

Many of us came into the fire service with a loving family who have supported us, encouraged us, and watched after our children while we worked, went to school, or while we were “improving the fire service”.

So why is it that we as firefighters, who took an oath to lay down our lives for the public if necessary, have forgotten about our families at home?

Are not our spouse and children our greatest investment?

Aren’t they our first “crew”?

Are they not the reason “everyone goes home”? As scripture states “you have forgotten your first love”.

We spend thousands of hours perfecting our craft, becoming certified, and working to be the best that we can be.

How many hours are we dedicating to learning to be a good husband/wife and a good father/mother?

How much time are we spending with our family where are mind is truly on them? Is our mind elsewhere?

We are taught that if we are distracted we can make mistakes on the fire-ground. We preach situational awareness, taking pride in what you do, and not becoming complacent. Why is it we not practicing what we preach at home?

The statistical data proves that we are at a greater risk for heart attack, cancer, and several other occupationally related illnesses. And that data shows that we are at a much greater risk of divorce than anyone else. So why are we putting the cart before the horse?

My friends, the answer lies in our priorities and core values. Your core values determine who you are. You are a good firefighter because of your values such as: integrity, compassion, courage, honor, honesty, etc. These core values were (hopefully) instilled in you by your family from God.

If you believe in God, as I do, then your priorities are to be: God, family, then your fire department family, and others. We are to work so that we may live. We should not “live to work”.

If our priorities are out of order we will one day find ourselves staring at retirement papers wondering if we will be able to live without this job.

When we leave this earth we leave behind two things: our word and our children. They are our greatest achievement. They are our greatest mission.

Our family is the reason we should be a great firefighter. We should not work so hard that we forget about the ones who are ‘holding the line’ at home.

Being a firefighter means you are never off duty. Our drive to serve our fellow man goes deeper than any patch, badge, or title that man can bestow upon us.

The commitment to our calling as a firefighter should be based on the depth of your great love for our family at home and our desire to go home safely to them.

In closing, remember we are blessed with two families. Keep “our home” family first and our fire department family second and our houses will always remain in order. Let’s practice what we preach at home and at work.

“Just as firefighters are willing to rescue someone from a
burning building, Christian firefighters must be willing to come to the aid of hurting
firefighters before their marriages end in divorce.” Dr. James Dobson

Lets all respond to the call of our families first and be sure that when we go home they will be there waiting for us with open arms.

Death and how it affects us

Death and How it Affects Us-

As firefighters, we witness death on a regular basis. Some even become numb to the effects of being near to it so often.

We joke about it at the dinner table moments after witnessing tragedy seemingly untouched by what we just saw.

Or so we thought…

What happens when we lose a loved one? 

What happens when tragedy strikes our own lives?

What happens when our health fails?

What happens when all we worked for collapses and those we love abandon us?

Do we then still look at death the same? Do we casually talk about it at the dinner table? 

No, it becomes personal, painful, and all consuming. Our joking demeanor changes to a more somber attitude.

“But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed” Job 4:5

Yet as firefighters, we console the grieving with our words but what about our hearts? We often shy away from getting too personal for fear of others seeing our true selves. 

If we were honest with one another, we say:

The reason death has no affect upon me is that I died along time ago when:

“The eyes of a lifeless child looked past my soul as he lay in my arms…”

“The frantic loved one that refused my embrace when I tried to tell him that his beautiful fiancée had been killed…”

“When a 19 year old boy lay crushed upon a floor while the brother begged me to do the impossible and make him live again…”

“When the screams of a sorrow stricken mother filled my ears when I had to tell her that her new born baby had passed away at the hands of her boyfriend…”

These deaths became a part of us and it seems a part of us died with them but yet…,

“Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death.”

—Job 14:14

But for those who choose to believe in Christ, their hope is a life everlasting. Death is a mere passage from this life to eternal life with God. 

But is our faith only strong when things aren’t going wrong? 

But what about right now? The pain, the loneliness, the anger we feel when someone precious to us are taken from us. 

We cry out in despair. We long for comfort and peace. For this world offers only temporary solutions to a permanent problem. 

Our problem is that in the midst of our pain and grief we lack the perspective to see it all through God’s eyes. God is the one who can provide us the ultimate comfort.

“Blessed be the God . . . of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction.”2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

We forget the peace of the Father’s comfort:

Do we remember as a child when we would come to our parents in tears and they would tell us it would be okay?

Did we doubt? Did we ask for proof of their claim? Did we go and look for answers elsewhere because we didn’t believe them?

No. Because we had Faith but what is Faith?

“Faith is being confident in what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1

Faith is the trust that God asks us to have in Him. Just like a child doesn’t doubt their earthly father; we should not doubt our Heavenly Father.

We can have faith that death is not the end. Because:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”

(1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

So let us encourage one another during our times of sorrow. God will provide us comfort and He has placed those in our fellowship to be “the hands and feet of Christ.” 

Come along side one another and lift each other up during these times. And let us not forget the hope we have in Him.

Death is not the end for all those who believe,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 

Do you believe? 

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries