Tag Archives: Salvation

There has to be more to life than this-And there is!

While reading the story of the prodigal son to our daughter I had to pause for a moment as I felt God speak to my heart. The story tells us the younger of two sons who tires of the harsh labor of farm life and goes to his father asking for his share of the inheritance now. The father is sad, yet grants his son’s request. 

The son goes and spends all that he has on wild living and is happy for a short time. Then his inheritance runs out and none of his ‘friends’ come to his aid as he is in desperate poverty.

He finds himself alone at the lowest point of his life he has ever been. And the scripture says “Then he came to himself.” This is the moment where he realizes what he had and what he gave up. 

Have you been there? 

Have you felt that moment where you realized that all you have done is not worth what you gave up to get there?  

This is a dark and sorrowful moment but THERE IS hope for the broken hearted:

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; 

A broken and contrite heart

You, God, will not despise.”

(Psalm 51:17)

As we read in the story, we can all draw a comparison to the prodigal son in that he realized what he had done.  

As I read this story, I noticed that as the son returns home to ask his father’s forgiveness his father sees him and races out to meet him. He doesn’t condemn him, He doesn’t ridicule him, and surprisingly he throws him a party to welcome him home. Because the Father knows the son’s heart. He knows that he not only is sorrowful for his past but has repented & turned away from what was wrong.

My friends, in life we are guilty of many things but what matters is the state of our hearts. God is patient with each of us and longs for us to “come to ourselves” and return home. 

He is ready to run out to meet you and has made a way home through His son Jesus Christ.  

2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God is ready for us all to come home. He isn’t mad at us. He loves us and has proven it through the Jesus. I pray that wherever you are, when you come to yourself, realize that you can come home.

God is ready and waiting with open arms…

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The T-Shirt Firefighter & the Bumper Sticker Christian

double-oaks-2nd-alarm-full-view-1024x768 The T-Shirt Firefighter and the Bumper Sticker Christian

It is not uncommon to see a person wearing a T-shirt that indicates they are a firefighter. In many instances, the words or pictures on these T-shirts are not pleasant and are often proclaiming actions this individual isn’t living out. This often angers firefighters who take the craft of firefighting seriously. But what about our faith? Do we take it as seriously as our place in life as firefighters? What about those who wear T-shirts or bumper stickers claiming they are Christians but live a life that is contrary to what God’s word proclaims? Shouldn’t this cause us to pause and reflect on what’s more important?

Perhaps you have heard it said: “I’m not a Christian because they are all hypocrites.” Sadly, this is true for many of us. We claim a belief that we often fail to consistently live out causing more harm to Christianity by our poor examples.

“It is an extraordinary difficulty quality to fake. It is beautiful to see demonstrated in someone’s life. However, it is equally obvious when it is lacking. What is it? It is a healthy, consistent, and balanced faith” (Stephen Arterburn).

Stephen’s word’s ring true that it beautiful to see the love of Christ demonstrated consistently in someone’s life. This in fact, is a living Epistle of God’s handiwork written before the eyes of the world for all to see that God can save, God can transform, and God can do anything in anyone’s life if they will put their trust in Him.

Make no mistake, this is not a condemnation of those who strive to follow Christ and fall down as most of us do. This writing is for those who claim merely a title and not a relationship with Christ as many of us often fall into this trap. Their belief is only as deep as their devotion. How do I know this? Because this was my life until 2006 when I felt the weight of conviction. The conviction came from the Holy Spirit, showing me that I was leading others astray by claiming a belief that I didn’t truly have.

For firefighters, we often are angered or frustrated by those who claim to be firefighters but fail to consistently train, improve, or perform well when the call comes in. Yet, we who take such a calling so seriously, often fail to live out the values of our own faith. We find ourselves in an uncomfortable place of self-conviction as we stand in front of the mirror realizing it is we who have failed.

In our faith we often fail to live out our belief in the following examples:

We claim Christ, yet we compromise truth, condemn others, criticize, all instead of living out our faith in truth and love…

We claim o be good & dedicated parents; yet the hours we invest in our careers far outnumber the time we spend with our spouses and children…

We claim to love Jesus; yet we fail to consistently do what He says. (Luke 6:46 46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

We claim to be Christians, yet our finances prove we love our possessions more than our creator. Jesus counsels us on the dangers of loving riches more than God. One such example is the counseling of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22-23 “So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”

We claim to be witnesses of the Gospel, yet we share more gossip & slander than the Good News. This can be seen in our lives where we pray for someone on Sunday and then gossip among ourselves about their concern during the week. We have to remember that when others allow us the privilege to pray for their private concerns that this isn’t an opportunity for us to gossip; it is an opportunity to intercede and strengthen our own prayer life.

We claim to be saved from our sins; yet our lives reveal a different story of lust, foul language, lies, adultery and more. For myself, the hypocrisy of living a double life was a weight that I could no longer bear. I lived a very rough and perverse life while at work and then would attempt to be the good “godly” man at home. God began to convict me of this and has been slowly hammering away my old behaviors, habits, and things that kept me from being close to Him.

James reminds us that if we claim something our actions will ultimately reveal our hearts:

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14).
Jesus reminds us that if we know Him, love Him, and remain in Him our lives will be living proof of our belief: publicly and privately.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43:44).

In closing, we who claim to know Christ out to be living lives that reflect the depth of our relationship. Therefore, we should all be investing more into our time with Jesus so that when we wake up to face the world that they would see Him in us. Otherwise, if we say we love Jesus yet we act like the secular world we may hear Jesus’ words:

“Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

May we all take the time to strengthen our relationship with the One who loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16b).
God bless,

Andy J. Starnes

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 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

Not So Rapid Intervention 

As firefighters, we understand that no other words on the radio bring more intensity and emotion than these: “May Day, May Day…”

Yet, we also know that the rescue of our own is often the most difficult and least successful in some instances due to the obstacles we face in order to rescue them. We understand it takes numerous firefighters to rescue one and the effort is not as the acronym implies as “Rapid.”

But what about when we see those around us heading for trouble? 

What about when we see their pain, their suffering, and yet despite our efforts they refuse our help?

Why is there a trend of others suffering in our world today? 

Not just a physical suffering but one of despair, anxiety, depression, and many people seem to be constantly at war with one anyone who disagrees with them. Yet we claim to be a peaceful people. Why is it that in a nation so prosperous, seemingly lacking nothing, we are divided and seem to be in a sense of inner conflict with not our enemies but one another and even ourselves? 

The fire service is not exempt from this, as we often see “the brotherhood” attacking one another over tactics, matters of opinion, and even making personal attacks on our own. How hypocritical of us yet therein lies a deeper problem for us to ponder.

Consider the profound wisdom of Tim Clinton:

“Interestingly, as today’s prosperous generations search for purpose, meaning and value, many are experiencing a pervasive sense of emptiness and isolation. And why shouldn’t they? In a world flooded with distresses like father absence, abuse, violence, marital discord, and emotional problems there is a natural epidemic of escapism through consumerism, drugs, alcohol, sex, and suicide. Earnest Becker accents this thought concluding ‘Modern man is drinking or drugging himself to death…or he is shopping which is the same thing” (Tim Clinton, p.4-Caring for People God’s Way).

We see a world full of every type of material or physical pleasure available to us yet these numbers confirm Dr. Clinton’s wisdom that we are not at peace as we seek escapism:

• 6.7 % or 15 million Americans suffers from depression

• 40-50% of American marriages will end in divorce (Firefighter divorce rates are as high as 70% in some states)

• 24.6 million Or 9.4% had used an illicit drug in the last month (alcohol and substance abuse is on the rise among firefighters).

• And approximately 40 million Americans look at pornographic material daily (This is an increasing problem in the fire service as well).

• Suicide is becoming the leading cause of death among young adults in America today (ages 25-44). We lost more brothers and sisters in the fire service last year to suicide than in the Line of Duty.

With this overwhelming evidence in front of us what is the source of our emptiness? 

Why is it that we are not at peace? 

Why are we using such unhealthy coping mechanisms to attempt to deal with the trials of life? 

As firefighters, we often are guilty of rescuing others but refuse to reach out for help because of our own pride. We feel ashamed of our problem and don’t want anyone to know. We often push this problem down, refusing to deal with it, and it becomes a cancer to our souls. Then the failure to deal with it begins to cause collateral damage in other parts of our lives.

Whether you believe in God or not it doesn’t negate the fact that all of the answers we seek neglect the One that will truly heal us. It is paramount for us to note that this problem is not a physical, emotional, or psychological one; it is a spiritual one and can only be healed by the One who took upon our punishment so we may have peace:

Jesus Christ…

No other name has brought more peace and more conflict…

No other name has more literature or evidence supporting His existence yet He is denounced as either a false teacher or an “opiate of the people.”

No other name has the power to save us as “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.” (Acts 4:12) Yet no other name is more attacked by those He actually died to save.

Yet no other name is more neglected, more abused, and more evicted from our society than the name of Jesus. Why is this so? 

Consider with me for a moment the words of Jesus…

For those who carry heavy burdens: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

For those who mourn: “Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).

For those who are anxious: “Cast all your anxiety upon Him, For He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

For those who feel alone: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

For those who have been tempted: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matthew 4:1).

And for all those who feel that God has forsaken them, even Jesus cried out on the cross as He was dying: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

And the ultimate reason for us all to look to Jesus is to remember that:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life” (John 3:16).

We must realize that the source of our emptiness, our anxiety, our struggle is a cross shaped scar upon our hearts that only Jesus can heal. He has done the work, paid the price, and “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). 

We often try everything to heal this brokenness except Jesus. We try healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms only to find ourselves still empty. We often come to the end of ourselves before we come to the beginning of God. We fall broken on our knees and cry out in anguish and even shaking our fist at Him when He has been there the entire time pleading for us to let Him in. Then we begin the search for Him but we only do so when our hearts are sincere:

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

And what do we find? Do we find prosperity, pleasure, and all our problems go away? 

No…

We find something even greater. We find peace. Peace amidst the storm, knowing that God is with us. We find reassurance knowing that He will never leave us. We find Joy knowing that we are forgiven despite our past. And we find new opportunity in this hurting world as we go and share the message we have received. 

Thus, as we go out into our daily lives let us look upon our struggles with a new found strength. A strength that doesn’t fail us because it isn’t our own. A strength that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). A strength that tells us each and every day that we are loved, we are forgiven, and that He wants us to share this life changing message with others no matter how much they assail, object, or persecute us. We will love as He loved, through the pain!

May we all seek Him and be found today,

In Jesus name I pray,
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.

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

Out of the Flames-Jarret Keith Testimonial

We thank our brother Jarret Keith for courageously sharing his testimony with all of us. Read on for encouragement:

There have been some recent occurrences that have changed my life and I feel the need to share it with all of you. I have recently decided to accept Jesus into my heart again. I accepted him into my heart before and strayed away from the word of God. But this past Friday I was at work at the Fire Dept. Several things occurred that day that really made me mad, upset me, and disgusted me.

That night A broadcast network called CBN happened to be on, so I watched. During the show they talked about several different things, those things they talked about just happened to be everything that happened that day….that’s not coincidence! The Lord reached out grabbed me and shook me through that show.

At the end of the show, the host made this comment, “If there is anyone that doesn’t know Jesus or knows him but needs to let him back into their hearts, please pray with me now and repeat after me.” I did, and it felt like the whole world lifted off my shoulders! I let him back in! (This is the part that gets interesting.) As I said earlier I have asked him to come into my heart before, done right for a little while, then I would get back on the same path I’d been on. (And no not drugs, just attitude, temper, my mouth and not following God and doing what he expects of me.)

This past Monday, I was on shift at the Fire Dept around 1:10 in the afternoon on Monday we were toned out to a structure fire. We arrived on scene and from the outside looked like we could go inside, make a good interior attack and knock it down. Myself and my Lt. put our air packs on and stretched a line to the door and popped the door open. As the door swung open black smoke that banked all the way to the floor started flowing out. As I made entry into the house on the nozzle, I got about half way across the living room and something wasn’t right, it was just too hot, my instincts were telling me to get out (or was it my instincts? Could it have been something or someone else.) I told my Lt. to back out, something wasn’t right and it was too hot. As I came out of the door we sat and watched the smoke for a few seconds to come up with a new game plan.

All of a sudden, about 20 seconds after we backed out a flash-over occurred. the Fire came towards the door and rolled right over the top of mine and my Lt’s head. Jesus had surrounded us with his loving arms and shielded us from that flash-over. Also where the fire was at in that house would have taken us about that long if not a little longer to get to it. If we had kept going and not backed out I would probably not be writing this post right now. We would have been caught right in the middle of the flash-over. Myself and my Lt. are blessed we did not keep going. I firmly believe that what happened Monday was the Lord giving me an example. I feel with all my heart that when that happened he was telling me, “This is why you need me, this is what I can do for you, this is how I can protect you, this is why you do not need to stray away from me again.” I firmly believe he reached out to me on that Friday through the host of a Christian network and then Monday showed me why I need him in my life and my heart through that fire when the flash-over occurred. God gave me another chance and this is where my new life begins!

If this story has inspired you and you would like to know more about how to receive Christ as your savior email us at bringingbackbrotherhood@gmail.com

God Bless,

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries