May 15th, 2009 by iMonk
Filed under: faith, Fire Fighters, Uncategorized | Tags: Alchoholics Anonymous, ATHEISM, Chief, depression, Fire Service, God, love, Nature
I have been going through some tunnel times. I seem to be much better at getting a second interview than I am at getting a job. I am sick of being broke, church giving is down, it rains a lot, my aches have aches, and I am generally miserable. Worst of all i spent a lot of time this week with Johnny. Johnny was my assistant Fire Chief for about 5 years back when i was Chief. he saved my rear in a figurative way a couple times, and I think God used him to save my life once.
The reason spending time with Johnny put the icing on my depression cake is that he has become a practicing alcoholic. johnny is 7 years younger than I, but now he looks 10 years older. his hands shake, his face is lined deeply, his legs can hardly hold him up. His dad died of alcohol in 73, his pretty younger sister dies about six years ago, same thing. I love this man, and just know he is on the way out. I have tried praying, preaching, and invites to AA. Without a Damascus road experience he will go the way of his family. I don’t see John often, but every once in a while, in the dead of night he will stop by, drunk as a skunk and smelling worse, to reminisce and wake me up. It only happens two or three times a year.
I was with Johnny because he called me Wednesday, his mom had passed away. He needed his Chief. I was with him as much as I could be. We went to the funeral Mass at The Holy Redeemer. His mom was a strong Catholic, but it didn’t take for John. They have a new priest, and I enjoyed[90%] of his homily. Their beautiful building with its vaulted ceilings is a lot different from, Dayspring’s drop ceiling plainness. I hear they are going to sell it, and as much as I would love to preach there, i just don’t see that happening. Very Christ centered. I stayed with him for the burial and the little dinner after. We sent over a ham and some buns, it is about all I can do. I can’t reassure him, or promise reunion, he is not a believer. he told me that this existence is Hell. His theology is really wrong, but he is strong in his disbelief.
Anyway, the Godlessness of the situation brought me to a dark spot. I have to watch my self. I have been really depressed in the past, and if I let my Gospel armor loosen, and if I do not take care of me and walk closer to God i can get so down i can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I took a hike with son in law Mark, [Eutychus to us] , and took some pictures and walked the blues away. It lifted me, may you enjoy. These are from the Seven tubs Recreational area in my home County of Lucerne.
So how can you stay depressed with such natural glory around? How can i be down when God has taken me through the tunnels of cancer, and pain, and paralysis? Do I think God retired? Am I silly or simple enough to think that He who started a good work in me will nor complete it? Being around people who have shut out God really runs me down, being around God and His works is my prescription. Hope you like the photos!
Filed under: Bible study, Christ, Crazed Thought, faith, Fire Fighters, History, roots of Willohroots, Jesus, Uncategorized, What would you do? | Tags: Chief, Fire Service, training
It has pleased God to provide much of my training needed to pastor Dayspring Bible Chapel in fire-halls and in fire service. My leadership skills with volunteers [ still needing much improvement] , my teaching style, my counseling and discipline abilities were all honed in Fire Service at Mt. Zion Bicentennial Fire Dept. To me this makes biblical sense. Moses was trained as a shepherd, Nehemiah in a king’s court, Luke in study to be a physician and many more examples. God is a master of cross training.
Moving from Fire Service to His Service I have noticed a lot of comparison points where churches fall far behind firefighters. One area not lacking is technology. Churches use PowerPoint and email and websites, burning DVD’s of services and using audio visual aids with cutting edge science. This is an area in which I admit Dayspring is far behind. Other areas in the visible church could learn much from your local fire department, and my suggestion is we emulate or at least learn from America’s Bravest:
- Mutual Aid, one company calling and receiving assistance from others
- Member Retention, recruiting is fine, but keep what you have
- Leadership Hierarchy, know who is in charge of what
- Buddy System, a pair beats high card every time
- Personnel Accountability , know who is where and their condition
- Member Utilization, everybody works for the common good
- Pre-Planning, prepare for the worst, think ahead
- Bonding in powerful life relationships
- Community Service, cat in tree, pool fill, non fire service calls
- Effective Mobilization, calling out the troops in time of need
- Fellowship in leisure activities, work hard, play hard
- Emergency Reaction, no committee decisions on an alarm
- Training, the only usable personnel are trained personnel
Take a look at the picture above. A college age woman is using a Dry-chem portable extinguisher on an imaginary fire. She has been able to hold the extinguisher, feel it’s weight, hear the sound it makes when it discharges, see its range and operate it in a safe environment. She has no doubt been taught the mnemonic,P.A.S.S. Pull Pin, Aim , Squeeze, and Sweep. Imagine how her success at reducing property loss and mitigating a hazardous situation has been improved by this training. Experience has taught that well meaning people without training have failed miserably in using hand held extinguishers. More than one person has dropped a CO2 extinguisher in panic at hearing the loud roar it made when used. Many frightened people have not pulled the safety pin, and strong men have broken many handles squeezing with all their might against the safety pin. The extinguishing agent does no good against fire if not directed at the base of the flame from the proper distance.
For the cost of a refill, $38.00, this woman has been made into a firefighter who could save millions of dollars. No doubt she sees now what area the tool covers, and now understands how big a fire may be combated with this device, and has been taught when the battle is worth fighting and when to bail out. An extinguisher in the hands of a trained person is a firefighting tool. An extinguisher without training is a red can on the wall that pleases insurance companies and is usable only as a door stop.
At church and in His service we fight the very flames of Hell. How much training do we provide? Pastors have seminaries [I have deep rebellion issues on this one that I will get to later] , Lay leaders have conferences, but does the guy or gal in the pew get training? Training applicable to real world scenarios? It just does not seem so. Here is a great read by Willohroots commenter Michael Bell, found on the Imonk site where we met.
“As noted earlier, before the age of 24, most of those who will leave have already left, whether they be Catholic or Protestant.”
Mike points out What is happening, here is my take on Why: They are untrained. Putting a firefighter in a position of danger without proper training and equipment is a recipe for disaster. Best case scenario, he will quit the service feeling he is a coward and a failure, or worst case, he will die. The church is too often presented as an island of comfort, a refuge from a world of sin, a safe society where sin is presented as “their” problem and we claim to have overcome. When a young adult is loosed into a world of all nature of sin the flames are too much and the options are either to beat a hasty retreat or be consumed. There are some time honored training methods available to us, and we need to teach and preach them if we are to succeed. Here are some areas that we need to address:
- Witnessing, not tracts, not acting plastic, but sharing Jesus in a real and meaningful way.
- Confronting sin face to face, retreat is not the only tactic.
- Preparation for condemnation from the world , it is going to come, be ready, your professors [most] think we are crazy.
- Real world issues are not black and white: divorce, sex, drugs,etc, must be understood – not simply condemned.
- History of the Bible and the Church, in truth, warts and all, knowledge is power and many of our youth are powerless.
- Evils of the Church, we are His bride, but we have messed up a lot, from crusades to defense of slavery, the truth is good to know.
- Denominational Distinctives, we do things differently, get used to it. Sure ,’we are right and they are wrong’, but God forgives [whoever we are].
- Sin. Sin is fun in the short term. Admit it and do not fear, we face nothing alone, He is there.
- Forgiving, forgiving , forgiving
The church has a choice, to be a a life raft floating on the sea of society, tossed by the waves and adrift, or a surf rescue society, trained people with a mission deliberately putting ourselves in harms way , with purpose and mission , to head out into danger for the purpose of rescuing the lost and drowning. We can be strictly a social hall, offering a nice place to have fellowship, or with training and the weapons provided by God, rolling out with a higher purpose, saving the lost from the flames that never die while keeping each other as safe as possible in a hostile environment.
We were saved to serve, not sit. Our service cannot be done without preparation. Next post, Training. What say you? Are you trained? Have you been to some good classes? Share, we all need to keep sharp.
The company started in 1976, and this is the first brand new rig ever to go in the barn. My dad rebuilt the engine on their first truck, a 1956 Ford, they have come far.
I have been asked to say a few words in honor of my Dad. The guys and girls at the company really thought a lot of him. There is a plaque on the pump panel, in honor of Willis ‘Pop’ Hapeman. Dad was blessed with 53 years in fire service. I was really surprised when, at his funeral, the Pittston and West Pittston Fire Companies put the aerial ladders at full extension forming an arch for the hearse and parade to go under. we call it putting up the sticks. It is an honor seen most often when a firefighter dies on the job, but I guess dad fought enough fires in both towns to deserve the honor.
He was a leader as Fire Chief, then President, then Pop. He offered marital and relationship counseling to people who had no one else to talk to. People would confide the most private things to him. He was a very special man. I grew up in a small town where Dad wad the borough electrician. He was responsible for the town fire alarm. That meant I got to blow the siren a lot. What a thrill for a young boy to make such a loud noise! Dad had a key ring with keys to about half the houses in town, in case they needed electrical work he could get in to do it. He was trusted, and with reason. He was honest to a fault.
It will be an honor and a privilege to speak on his behalf today. There are some things I will not mention to the crowd that I would like to share with you, as shared burdens weigh much less.
My dad never saw my family sing in church. When the girls were young my wife would play keyboard, I would play guitar, and we would sing in various churches as a way to serve our God. He never saw that. I have been preacher for almost thirty years, fill in, old age homes, Church of Christ, Baptist, Congregational,etc. My dad never heard me preach. I was a soloist in churches and school , college,and churches. My dad never heard me sing. My dad did not believe as I do. He often said, “When you are dead you’re dead!” He wanted no part of church.
My readers can understand why, when he died I went through a two year period of depression. He had told me that if I became a preacher he would break my leg, and if I became a Baptist preacher he would break both my legs. Threats like this from a big powerful man must not be ignored. I was made Pastor the week he died. I stood over his bed, looking at his legs, both broken from within by cancer, and just had to wonder.
I loved my Dad. We spent so much time together as business partners, hunters, and firemen. My life was often in his hands, and he always pulled through. Once another company shut my hose line off while I was in a working structure fire on the nozzle, once. After Dad straightened them out that would not be repeated.After the 72 flood electricity had me stuck to a pipe in a basement and he kicked me off,[ he said he enjoyed that], and we will not speak of the bar fights here. As far as eternity, I have thread bare hope of a deathbed conversion. All things are possible with God, and even if we are separated after time ceases I still owe Dad much. He taught me a good trade, made me a Fire Fighter and Chief, taught me to shoot straight with firearms and people. There is no doubt he was a good and honorable man.
I need to get in fire company mode, dry my eyes and look the part of a past Chief honoring a past Chief. On a purely secular level it will be a great day, I just am not sure I can function on a purely secular level these days.
Pray for my brother firefighters, they are some of the best people I know. Introduce them to the Savior with love, Amazing Grace should be more to them than the name of the song they play at a fireman’s funeral.