Available? The Value of Divine Appointments:

Available? The Value of Divine Appointments:

Have you ever been interrupted?

Have you ever thought “I just don’t have time for this right now?”

Has someone called, showed up, or caused a change in your schedule because of their urgent need?

As firefighters, we stop what we are doing to answer the call of “an unscheduled appointment.” Yet when our loved ones interrupt us we seem to forget that we are still servants to our fellow man: on and off duty.

Consider this:

Most of the ministry of Jesus was through interruptions. As He was on His way great crowds would follow Him, people would reach out to touch him, people would bring their children to Him, and each time He would bless, heal, and feed them.

What can we learn from this? We are often too focused on the destination and often miss the blessing of the journey. How many opportunities to help or impact someones life have we missed because we were so focused on ‘just getting there.’

Ministering like Jesus means being available to others despite our schedule. The number one enemy of ministry is busy-ness. We were created and saved to make a difference and this occurs by God’s appointments.

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” James 1:22
A friend of mine recently thanked me after a phone conversation where he was sharing some very painful personal trials. He said, “I called someone in the church that said they could help me and the minute I started talking I felt as if he was trying to get off the phone.”

I began to understand that at that moment God had taught me a very powerful lesson. I didn’t fix my friend’s problem nor did I have the means or abilities to provide a solution. Ministering to others requires that we be available and that we are vulnerable. Neither of these is convenient or comfortable but they require a sacrifice of our time and our heart.

Are we willing to give of our-self so that others may know of His love?

We must decide which is more important?

Our schedule or His?

A completed to-do list or a changed life?

Think about it…

When it comes to making a difference; no appointment should be necessary.

Forgiveness: Withholding the greatest gift

“While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” Romans 5:8

In life, we are often wounded deeply by individuals and even more so by those close to us. These events lead us to feel bitter, hurt, and justified in feeling anger towards them. We even go as far as condemning them.

Take a moment and look at forgiveness from another perspective.

What if we caused someone great harm?

What if we went out of our way to persecute, ridicule, condemn and falsely accuse this person?

And our actions ultimately lead to their death. Would we feel that we deserve their forgiveness?

Consider the life of Jesus:

Jesus led a life of love, teaching, and healing everywhere He went. He committed no wrongs yet others condemned Him because of His message. It made them feel uncomfortable and exposed their sinful ways. So what did they do?

They falsely accused Him, paid witnesses to lie about Him in a trial, and then He was tortured, ridiculed. and He was made to carry the very thing He would be killed on for a half a mile.

When we think of every face in the crowd that were shouting “crucify Him” and suddenly we see our own face staring back at us.

We often ridicule and say bad things about others who make us feel uncomfortable by their good works. We look for chinks on their armor because we feel inferior. When they mess up; we call them hypocrites and gloat at their misfortune.

We then tear others down at their expense to make us feel better. Yet, we call ourselves good and some of us even claim to be Christians. It is our bad example that causes many non-believers to reject Christianity.
Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 15;

“These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Matthew 15:8-9

“How are we to share the love of God if our own methods aren’t loving?” (Ravi Zacharias)

Are we truly “loving one another?”

Jesus chose to die for us even though “we were sinners.” He forgave us and He even goes a step farther. He wants a close and personal relationship with each of us!

When we take a new look at the cross and realize that our sin put Him there…We don’t feel worthy of forgiveness. Yet, He forgave us.

So let us take a look back at our own lives for a moment from the perspective of Jesus:

Despite those who have wronged us, hurt us, and betrayed us we now can realize that we need to Forgive them for we have been forgiven much.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each another, just as in Christ, God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32

If we fail to forgive others when we ourselves have been forgiven so great a debt; we are actually condemning ourselves.

Jesus said “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14

As Christians, we must forgive and show God’s love to others no matter how difficult. For if we fail to do so we are actually leading others away from Christ and condemning ourselves.

Let’s speak the truth in love and live out our beliefs by forgiving others as Christ forgave us.

Facing Hard Times? Help is on the way!

Facing Hard Times? Help is on the way!

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character hope. “ Romans 5:3

How do we glory in our sufferings?

Not many of us look at the problems of life as something to be happy about. As firefighters, we solve problems for others but respond differently when they affect us.

Why is this?

As a firefighter, we understand this concept better than we would like to admit.

We understand that in order to be a better, stronger, and more disciplined that we have to endure many hardships.

Training, education, and exercise are some of our disciplines. But what about applying those disciplines in our own lives?

In our actual service we see tragedy, illness, death, and loss almost on a daily basis. This can carry over into our personal lives and cause us to cope in unhealthy ways that are destructive to those around us.

Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves:

Do the hard times we face in life make us weaker or stronger?

Each moment and each experience is an opportunity to produce “perseverance, character, and hope”

These moments and experiences are not meant for us to internalize and let them destroy us from the inside out.

They are meant for us to share, draw on each other’s comfort, and to use them in the future when we face even more difficult moments.

We are not meant to carry these burdens alone. Remember that!

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

This is a brotherhood and that means we carry one another’s burdens together! We do everything as a team so why should one of our brothers/sisters have to face a personal crisis alone?

These moments can define us or destroy us. Through Faith and Fellowship they can be a source of strength.

The Application:

As we face hard times in life we must remember to share our pain with others. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that we are human.

Without others calling for help, the fire service would not need to exist. With that in mind, begin by calling out to God and to our brothers/sisters for help.

Consider this tactical benchmark check list for our lives:

Size-Up: Pray! Tell God what your facing and share it with someone you trust.

Transfer Command: On an incident, the higher ranking officer takes command upon arrival. In our lives we don’t have to wait on God’s arrival. He is always there. Let Him take Command.

Follow His IAP: Immediately Apply Principles- God wants us to do our part; which demonstrates our faith (trust) in Him. Start mitigating the problem by following His plan.

Report to Rehab: As we work on the struggles we face we will become weary.

This is where we are to radio Command: “God, I am tired and weary”

And Jesus replies “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Remember as a firefighter, when we arrive at an emergency what do we do?

We go to work resolving the problem. Why?

Because we have confidence in our training and in knowing that help is on the way.

“Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear” Isaiah 65:24

So Pray and remember that our confidence is directly correlative to our dedication to God’s word. Our ‘training’ is our study and application of God’s word.

Then we are get to work on the problem knowing that help is on the way.

In closing, hard times will come but it is how we choose to respond to these moments that will impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

Let us practice the principles of God’s word as the ultimate training for the problems we will all face.

Firefighters Turning the Test into a Testimony

Firefighters Turning the Test into a Testimony

The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.
—1 Samuel 17:4

In life, we can become so wounded by our trials that we begin to slowly give up. Our focus begins to become so limited that all we can see is the depth of our pain. Our heart is so heavy that we see no victory in these moments.

But wait..

“Open your eyes.God has surrounded you with people in need of His care. It’s your turn.Wait for the kingdom by participating in it.” D.Schmitt

How will our life remembered?

Will our life be remembered as one who struggled and gave up or one who struggled and helped others?

Will our life have an impact on others and whether or not we cared enough to make a difference. This is accountability on the highest level.

A difficult principle to grasp is this: Our pain can provide purpose.

Our life and its experiences have divinely prepared us to help others through trials, tribulations, and failures.

When we share our pain and open up our wounds that is when others will feel that they can share their pain with us.

There are those close to us that are in need of fellowship. Their facial expression may hide their silent cries for comfort but we know better.

Why?

Because we have suffered, we have been hurt, and we have experienced pain therefore we know what to look for.

Lets take our tribulations and show the devil that he has not won. We are not defeated! And neither are our brothers and sisters around us.

By God’s grace we will not only rise again but we will dare to share what we have been through to help others.

Open up and realize that we are in a mission field. Their are many people around us right now that are divine appointments set by God that only we were meant to help.

This is our moment will we take the next step and answer their call ?

SLICERS, DICERS, AND NOW: NICER!

SLICERS, DICERS, AND NOW: NICER!

The fire service is alive with research, livid debate, training, and education.  Sadly, many passionate firefighters suffer from the fall out during the passionate process of fire service change. It’s like trying to smile while having a root canal. We all want to improve but deep down there is an inherent fear of change.

A quick look at the internet reveals ‘spirited debate’ and heated battles between some of the fire service leaders and on many fire service blogs and discussion boards. 

Many firefighters become disheartened and feel that they are under attack during these moments.  As a member of a research project that takes more than its fair share of ‘spirited debate’ I welcome the discussion.

Let me explain:

If you had a classic car that you poured your life savings into, all of your sweat equity, and years of restoring it; would you let just anyone come in and start making decisions about paint color, accessories, interior, etc.? Absolutely not! You poured your life, your passion, and quite a bit of your financial resources into this vehicle and you are not about to let just anyone come in and change what you have worked so hard to build from the ground up.

Sound familiar?

Firefighters are passionate, they are dedicated, and they have (rightfully so) developed a sense of ownership over the way we do business. I applaud each and every firefighter who debates, discusses, and passionately defends his or her position because it means that you CARE!

However, I do believe that there is no place for tearing each other apart and destroying others brands or businesses simply because you disagree with their tactical playbook. We are better than that. The discussions that I have witnessed and seen online are reduced to name calling and hyphenated discussions that are a waste of time and a blemish to the honor of what we are trying to do as a fire service.

With that being said, might I suggest a new acronym to guide us through the murky waters of change. Consider these principles the next time you have a ‘discussion’ about change.

NICER

N: Now- As you discuss controversial, new, or change in the fire service before you respond take a moment and consider how far the fire service has come and how change has benefited it along the way.

I: Integrity- Consider the remarks that you make can me repeated, twisted, and  misinterpreted by others very quickly. Your remarks reflect who you are. Consider the impact of your words before you speak them.

C: Community-remember the person you are talking with is a part of the firefighter community, the brotherhood, they are our family member, and we should honor them even if we disagree. “Don’t sacrifice a relationship just to win an argument” (Alan Brunacini)

E: Encouragement is in short supply these days. As you end the conversation, whether you agree or disagree leave each other with encouragement. They care enough to discuss the subject which reflects the depth of their passion for the job.

R: Respect, Reflect, Refine: The fire service reminds me of Christianity. There are a lot of churches out there, trying to save souls, but are inefficient because they are too busy arguing about the best way to save someone.

We let our differences get in the way of the main objective. Respect each other, reflect on what was said, and use it to refine your own knowledge and beliefs. But most of all remember the mission is to save lives! Your purpose should be to educate not cause division within the ranks of our community.

Let us lead change and be above reproach. During the course of each others education we should be building relationships not tearing them down.

God Bless,
Andy

#Firefighters Who will save us?

#Firefighters Who will save us?

In our journey there will come a time in our lives when we realize that all that we are, all that we have, and all that we have done is meaningless. Something is missing and that something is a someone: Jesus Christ.

It’s at the point where we notice a pattern of reaching goals, acquiring possessions, working for recognition, and it hits us that each time we reach the pinnacle we are faced with another mountain to climb. It seems that it’s never enough. We are never at peace or satisfied. All that we have grasped and worked for has yet to fulfill this longing in our hearts.

Why is this?

We then begin to understand that there is a void in our soul that no material possession, no drink or drug, and no one individual can fill. This void in our heart is a cross shaped scar that can only be healed by the redeeming blood of Jesus.

But many ignore God’s great Rescue mission through His Son Jesus. Our great pride becomes our worst enemy.

Yet in our prideful stubbornness, we quietly and fearfully dismiss this inner longing, and put it out of our focus. We scoff at others who follow Christ and say words like “I am a good person.”

The devil and the world are a constant threat to us focusing on our Godly relationship.

Pulled closer or Pushed away:

The trials, tribulations, and day to day monotony of our lives can either be a distraction or a reminder of our need for God. We will either recognize our brokenness and call upon God or we will dismiss it because of our anger, the hypocrisy of Christianity, and the unanswered questions that remain in our hearts.

But God isn’t mad at us and we should never judge a belief system by those who choose to abuse it. Of that were the case, many of us would never be a firefighter because there are bad firefighters. We would never goto the gym because there are out of shape people there. And many of us would never marry because the divorce rate is so high.

The pursuit of an inner longing is not based on the performance of others; Our salvation is determined by Gods love and our willingness to accept His offer. A gift that many refuse because we cannot comprehend the principle that one would die for another who refused to acknowledge their love.

Consider this: A firefighter takes an oath to take great risks and even sacrifice their life if necessary to save someone that they may have never met.

Now, does the concept of Jesus dying on a cross to save us sound so far fetched?

But what if we accept God’s gift?

How are we to seek relationship with God through Jesus when our family, our work, and our friends tell us to take the easy road?

For the author, the fire department was a spiritual detriment but now as a firefighter each day is a “spiritual opportunity”. Each day is viewed as an opportunity to share the life changing message that God has given freely to us all.

Failing to Search & Rescue:

As Firefighters we are so focused on training and our duty to the public that we often miss the greatest opportunity to make a difference that lies right in front of us:

Our brothers and sisters in the fire house.

We have the duty and privilege to share God’s good news with ourselves and our brothers in the fire station.

Romans 5:8 says “God demonstrated His great love in this: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”

As a firefighter we took an oath to lay down our life, if necessary, to save someone else’s. We will not know the day, the hour, or the person if this time ever comes.

We can only train ourselves: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to prepare ourselves to save another’s life. Yet God has already made the rescue of all mankind; rather than waiting on the firefighters to arrive to save us all we must do is make the greatest 911 call ever made.

Consider this concept:

God sent His son to die for us before we ever recognized our sinfulness or our need for Him.

When someone calls 911 they are crying out to us for our help. Out of our great love for our fellow man we respond willing to risk our life for someone we may have never met.

God provided for us before we ever called for His help. “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

It was His plan to redeem us from the very beginning:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son to condemn the world but to save it.” (John 3:16-17)

We are all born with a need for God, and it is only through Jesus that this can be fulfilled. Let Jesus come to our rescue today. May we all place our hope in Him and our future is secured. It is as simple as ABC

Admit that we need help: God I am a sinner and I need help.

Believe: Dear God, I believe that Jesus is your Son, that He died on the cross for our sins, and on the third day He rose from the dead defeating the power of sin and death.

Confess: Dear God, I confess my sins to you and I accept the gift of forgiveness by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Please walk with me, guide me, and keep me on the path to a closer walk with Thee.

If you have prayed this prayer, we ask that you would contact us. We would love to follow up with you and assist you on the wonderful journey of walking with Jesus.

It is our hope and our mission that every firefighter will come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood
Founder
Starnesandrew1@gmail.com

Bringing Back Brotherhood: The Mission

Bringing Back Brotherhood: The Mission

Are you tired of the negativity in the fire service? Have you noticed the increasing trend of our brothers and sisters struggling?

Do you believe that we do a great job of helping others but fail at helping one another sometimes?

If you have ever felt this way? Has your once passionate desire for the fire service been diminished by others? If so, read on….

Roughly a year ago, God put a burden on a firefighter’s heart. The fire service had become a spiritual detriment but then God opened the eyes of that blind firefighter and showed him what it truly is:

A great spiritual opportunity to encourage one another!

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

This Lost Firefighter has been found and has began to see others as God sees them.

Firefighters everywhere are hurting, they need encouragement, and the painful realization that occurred is that God had not failed them. It was the firefighter who had failed.

He chose to let the world drain his passion. He allowed others to change his attitude. He drank the poison of bitterness and blamed the world.

The mission of Bringing Back Brotherhood is to encourage firefighters with the hope of Jesus Christ.

This message will be shared through the vulnerable and often painful moments that we all face. The power of a testimony showing that you can endure, you can make a difference, and no matter the circumstances:

“Nothing is impossible with God.”

Through the power of sharing our lives and what God has done; therein lies the bridge to connect to our brothers & sisters who feel lost.

If you have felt the call, the inner desire to do something more, we offer our story to you. We offer our pain and our lives as an open book to you in the hopes that you will look to the one who will always provide.

It is our mission and prayerful hope that if you have become lost that you will come home. Know that there is one who is searching for you and He wants you to come back home.

He offers you hope, comfort, and encouragement that the world can never take away. Begin your journey home today. Don’t let the world destroy our calling, let’s Bring Back Brotherhood one changed life at a time.

May God Bless each of you,

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries