Tag Archives: tactics

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

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse:

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty,

What will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

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

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

God counts every one of our tears:

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

God Himself has shed tears:

“Jesus wept” John 11:35

God will wipe away our tears:

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

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

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

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

 

 

The Firefighter Rescue Plan: How to call for help?

The Firefighter Rescue Plan: How to call for help?

Let us consider each part of this scenario as one who has become lost in the ‘fires of life’:

A sudden and unexpected calamity occurs in our life and we rush in to prevent any further harm without thought of a back-up plan.  Then the situation takes a turn for the worse and the world “collapses” around us. In this moment, we feel “pinned down” by the weight of this problem.  Our thoughts turn to anger and our pride prevents us from calling for help.

The situation seems hopeless; every effort to save ourselves only worsens the problem.
Anxiety begins to weigh heavy upon our heart. The circumstances have paralyzed us and we fall upon our knees as we cry out in desperation to God: “Please save us!”

Take a moment and think about this:

What if someone knew that in the future we would need to be rescued?

What if they knew that no matter how many people tried to save us that we still would refuse their help?

What if they knew that the only way to save us was to give up their own life for ours?

Even though at that moment, we would have never asked for their help or admitted our need for their help, this person still chose to give up their life for us. Why would anyone do such a thing?

Because He loves us more than you could ever imagine.

God demonstrated His great love in this:
“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Every firefighter wants to save a life. It is not any firefighter’s wish that anyone should die. So it is with God, He doesn’t want anyone to perish. The imagery is powerful, realistic, and it is true. God chose to save us before we asked. He answered the call of our heart that we refused to make. Many of us, including myself, only chose to call out in a moment of desperation. This is where many of us meet God. When there is no one else to save us, no back-up plan, no emergency fund, and no one to call.

The plan from the very beginning was to save us all. As a firefighter, you understand the plan of redemption even if you aren’t a Christian.  One who calls for help is saved by another that he or she has never met, and never can repay what has been done for them.
Sound familiar?

Each and every moment is a gift. God has made a way home, a personal rescue plan, just for us. His name is Jesus Christ. He will reach through our darkness, give us the breath of life, and bring us through the fire into the safety of His arms.

Many have become lost on their journey in the fires of life. It is not God’s plan for anyone to be lost but to be rescued. He is actively searching for us. His love pierces through the deepest darkness and his light shines through the most turbulent smoke.  If we would but call upon his name we will be saved. 

Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Every citizen is taught from an early age how to call for help. They are taught to call 911 and they know that help is on the way. In our lives, we should not be afraid to call upon God to be saved. We should not be afraid to call out to Him for help and we should realize that He has placed a wonderful support group in our presence if we would merely ask.

James 4:2 states “You have not because you ask not.”

Each of us will face moments in life that will be more than we can bear. It is not meant for us bear the load alone. In firefighting, we go in together and we fight together. We overhaul together and we get back in service together.

It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is a sign of strength. Take the time and consider this:

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Notice something? “Your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” If those around us, that we place our trust in, are undergoing the same kind of sufferings than who better to talk to, to lean on, and to ask for help from?

Our rescue plan has been defined, the team has been deployed, and they are standing at the ready to help. In Part three of this series, we will begin to how to “End the trend” of firefighters not receiving the help they so desperately need.

Until then, start by asking God for help, and leaning on our brothers or sisters around us. Lawyer's rd 4 alarm fire

Spotlight on Brotherhood: Share the Load Program

Share The Load Program:

Featuring Mark Lamplugh Jr. from 360 Wellness & The National Volunteer Council’s Share The Load program

As first responders, we face continual exposure to stress throughout our careers. It is well known that first responders have a higher rate of heart attacks, stress related disorders (PTSD, anxiety & depression, and other unhealthy coping mechanisms), and those that answer the call for help seldom make the call when they face down the ‘fires’ of their lives.

Firefighters and first responders often don’t call out for help due to a numerous reasons. Many of us have had the misfortune to lose a loved one or close friend to suicide. Sadly, many of us have witnessed the traumatic effects on our brothers or sisters who have battled depression, substance abuse, alcoholism, and other issues.

As firefighters, we practice situational awareness, being proactive, and being well trained in our craft. Why is it that these issues continue to grow statistically in our profession? Shouldn’t we be well trained in recognizing the signs of a ‘working fire’ within the heart of our fellow firefighter? Are we not a brotherhood? What can we do to better take care of each other?

This Spotlight on Brotherhood is meant to encourage one and all that something is being done and being done well. This ‘spotlight’ is meant to draw attention to a light in the darkness. Our brothers at American Addiction Center and the National Volunteer Firefighters Council have teamed up to create the “Share the Load Program.” They are taking a bold step in the right direction. Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries is a proud sponsor of this program and it is our heartfelt mission to inform first responders everywhere that there is hope.

Yet in the face of hope, many of us do not share our burdens. We suffer in silence while our lives burn down around us. Our eyes seem to cry out for help but our words fail us. In need of rescue, many of us fail to call a personal MAY-DAY. Let us briefly explore those reasons and how this resource can overcome those objections.

We don’t believe there is help out there so we don’t call?

“The first step in getting help is to make the call. Simply call 1-888-731-FIRE (3473) any time day or night. Calls are free and confidential. A skilled, trained Intake Counsellor will answer your call. Make sure you identify yourself as a firefighter, EMT, or family member of the fire service. The Intake Counsellor will listen to your problems and concerns and identify local resources in your area, or when appropriate, locate national treatment options that work within your needs and insurance capabilities. Trained assistance professionals who are members of the fire service are available to talk, and the licensed counsellors at AAC treatment facilities have undergone intensive training specifically on the culture and needs of the fire service.”(from NVFC website)

Would they understand? Yes, they would!

When we hurt, who do we feel the most comfortable talking to? Our fellow firefighters! One of those licensed professionals is Mark Lamplugh. Mark Lamplugh Jr is a 4th generation firefighter and former Captain with the Lower Chi Chester Fire Company. He is now a national treatment consultant with 360 Wellness specializing in First Responder Services. Mark has placed and referred 100’s of firefighters nationwide. Mark dedicates his life making sure every firefighter gets the help they need for Addiction and Mental Health issues. mark

360 Wellness has access to the best treatment centers and clinicians across the country. Let our experienced wellness specialists match you with a treatment center or clinician that meets your needs and gets you on the road to full recovery as soon as possible. We make sure to get you the
best possible help available. Call our wellness hotline and speak with a wellness specialist to help you find the best help possible: (800) 901-1640

Mark W Lamplugh Jr
Chief Executive Officer
Cell: 561-762-9729
www.360wellness.org

 

The citizens are taught to call 911 when in need; why don’t we call for help?
When you call 1-888-731-FIRE, the Fire/EMS Helpline any time day or night there will be a licensed professional ready to help us with problems such as: “alcohol or drug addiction, depression, suicide prevention, stress or anxiety, critical incidents, PTSD, stress caused by financial or stress problems, relationship issues, work related concerns, or psychological issues”

When you call, you will receive compassionate, non-judgmental support you can trust. Depending on your individual needs, you can speak with a trained fire service member who understands what you are going through, you can be referred to local resources to help with your specific problem, or you can be admitted to a treatment facility where there are licensed counsellors trained in the fire service culture. If a treatment center is needed, the Fire/EMS Helpline will work with your insurance to make sure there is no cost to you.” (From NVFC)

Brothers and sisters, there are fellow fire service professionals who are ready, willing and able to assist us by ‘sharing the load.’ We are not meant to carry our burdens alone. It is our hope that if you know someone in need, you are in need, or this will help your department that you will reach out. We have included the links to the following resources that are available:
Share The Load Program from the National Volunteer Fire Council: NVFC Share The Load

In our next Spotlight on Brotherhood we will continue to share the valuable work of other organizations that are helping lift up our brothers and sisters. Until next time, come along side one another and lift them up! Encouragement! We all are in need of it. May God Bless those who take courage to the next level by being strong enough to share their pain.

The Ultimate Fireground Commander

Isaiah 43:2

“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!

When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you.”

Who is able to:

To stretch the right line, to the right place, at the right time…

To be on point, never missing a cue of a tense situation…

To stay calm no matter the chaos and provide the right words to inspire others…

To mitigate every circumstance with the proper tactic…

To be well equipped and always ready even when others fade…

To have the ladder at the window at just the right moment to make the rescue…

To reach through the darkness and make the grab..

To breathe life back into someone when all hope is lost…

To extricate from an impossible set of circumstances as if the metal couldn’t hold them…

To do all this and never boast, never seek recognition, and prepare to do it all over again…

This is the embodiment of servant leadership. This is an analogy of what God does for us each and every day through Jesus Christ.

If you will let Him, He will take command of your life. He will never lose track of you. He will never forget you. He will always be there for you. And His light will shine though any darkness.

For He has conquered death and defeated the fires of hell.

He is the Ultimate Fire Ground Commander and His name is Jesus Christ.

Will you let Him take command of your life?

The Portable Radio Analogy: A One Sided Conversation

Have you ever listened to radio traffic at an incident and thought to yourself

“How is anyone ever supposed to respond when the IC won’t stop talking?”

If someone was to transmit a MAY-DAY how would the Incident Commander even know?

I have struggled in my prayer life more than any other area of my Christian walk. I have been guilty of never letting go of the microphone. My prayers have been a way of merely reporting to God what He already knew.

If Prayer is communication with God them shouldn’t we allow Him a moment to respond?

The problem that most of us have is this:

We think we are the Incident Commander and we think we should be doing most of the talking. In reality, we are the firefighters and we should be listening to the Ultimate Incident Commander for direction and guidance.

In our lives we should all “take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James) and understand that in order to hear someone speak we must not be talking.

Pray and learn to let go of the microphone as we all wait for His response. “Before they call, I will answer. While they are yet speaking I will hear” Isaiah 65:24

God will answer but are we listening? “Be still” and listen as He speaks to your heart.