Tag Archives: prayer

The Unappreciated

There comes a time in everyone’s life where all their efforts seem to be failing…

There comes a time when nothing seems to work out despite our valiant efforts…

There comes a time when disaster strikes those closest to us that do well, while the wicked live on and prosper…

There comes a time when leaders will abuse their authority, slander & lie, promote mediocrity, and allow certain individuals who “fall in line” to break the rules while they discipline those who do what is right with the most rigid and harsh results as if to say “Look what doing right will cost you”…

There comes a time when, we work our entire life only to be struck down by illness right as we near retirement…

There comes a time, when we begin to walk with God, and many of our relationships fall apart and they view us as hateful and prejudiced despite all of the love we have for them…

There comes a time when our efforts & accomplishments are stolen by others and they even receive recognition for their theft as the originators of the work…

There comes a time, when our spouse turns cold and demands a divorce despite all we do to reconcile…

There comes a time in our lives when we feel lost, abandoned, and unappreciated…

When one pursues righteousness, confesses their sins openly, and cares deeply for others; one would reason that they would be valued…

What then can we do when these trials and tribulations come?

Are we to give up hope as the world seems to only reward those who agree with their values?

Sadly, so many people choose suicide as the answer to their hopeless situation when in reality there lies a hope that cannot be taken from us…

Remember this: Values determine relationships….

What we value, what we cherish, what we know as sacred….

Those beliefs will determine our work ethic, our world view, and if we differ from the world we should be prepared for the storm…

Take comfort in the following words when the tribulations of this world come to our doorstep:

Jesus gave his disciples very specific and powerful instructions in the book of John. His words are for those who claim Him as Lord and Savior. This means we are disciples, which should be understood what responsibility we have and what hardships we will face as such:

“The term “disciple” is derived from the Koine Greek word mathetes, which means a pupil (of a teacher) or an apprentice (to a master craftsman), coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning a learner while the more common English word is student. A disciple is different from an apostle, which instead means a messenger. While a disciple is one who learns from a teacher, an apostle is one sent to deliver those teachings or a message” (Wikipedia).

As disciples, then we are learners, pupils, or apprentices to the ultimate master craftsman…

So why do we expect those who don’t share these same values as our Master to appreciate ours?

Should we be surprised?

On the contrary, we have forgotten our master craftsman’s words and may have slowly began to become an apprentice of the world instead.

When the world tells us that all truth is relative we know:

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).

When we face the trouble, trial, and tribulation we remember:

Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3).

IMG_6571.JPGWhen the wicked prosper and are rewarded for their efforts we remember:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and the He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (John 13:2-5).

One could write volumes on just these few mentioned scriptures but for this writing we should note that Jesus knew what He was facing (the crucifixion and God pouring out His wrath upon Him) and He loved those who were His own to the very end! Remember, as He was dying on the cross “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Remember and read (the book of John is a great place to start) the life of Jesus and see the Son of God, born into abject poverty in a stable where shepherds were chosen as His first messengers. Shepherds were considered outcasts and lowly in terms of societal class in Biblical times. He was baptized, even though He was sinless, and He sought out disciples who were all imperfect sinful men. His three short years of ministering to them changed their lives, transformed their hearts, and He taught, healed, and stood up for truth. Those disciples went on to change the world and they all faced incredible hardships. All of them but one died for their efforts. And they were not recognized during their lives for their efforts but they were “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1b) of those who prophets who had gone before them. They knew what they were facing and they endured to the very end. Why? Because they knew as Jesus did who they belonged to, what reward awaited them, and that their love would lead to eternal dividends in the lives of generations to come.

Therefore, will we “grow weary in doing good?”

Or will we remember who we belong to, what we WILL face, and what reward awaits us?

All of this we do out of love for the one who loved us to the very end even though even He was unappreciated by the very people He came to save. Don’t give up on this world, Jesus didn’t!

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

 

The Firefighter Rescue Plan

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

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

If we had gotten to them a few seconds sooner?

Then we question God…

Why did would God allow such a tragedy to occur?

Why do innocent children have to die?

Why is it so many die from their own hands?

God, we want to save lives!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is this?

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

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

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

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

The problem lies in this simple fact-

Everyone is in need of Rescue.

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

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

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

Is anyone truly a good person by their own merit? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if there is a God?

What if He truly does love all of us?

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

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

Consider His sacrifice, His resurrection, and His message.

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

We pray that you will.

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

Amen!

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

In One Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In one moment, our lives can suddenly change…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We thought we would stand and give God our explanation…

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

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

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

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

This is the promise from God that cannot be broken…

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

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

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

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

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

He gave it all so that we may live…

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

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

 

 

 

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.

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

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

We the Post Traumatic Souls

We the Post Traumatic Souls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where we begin…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

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

Firefighter May-Day

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