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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Firefighter Parable #2 – Firefighting Procedures

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart…Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

-Excerpts from the 119th Psalm.

An important aspect of any job with risks is the education of the member and their knowledge of the procedures (to include memorizing emergency procedures), regulations and equipment standards. For firefighters, who deal with literally hot situations, it is even more paramount.

Equipment standards and methods of inspection are critical. Firefighters have to be able to examine their equipment to discern whether it is serviceable. That’s important because if their equipment fails, they or a fire victim may be injured or even killed. Obviously, with the amount of equipment they have at their disposal, they can’t memorize those standards. Instead, they have to be familiar with the regulations in order to best be able to quickly access the information necessary and use it. Clearly, they can’t stumble around checking random books and accomplish their tasks efficiently! Familiarity with the regulations is practical and necessary for firefighters.

The other half is emergency procedures. Unlike regulations, firefighters cannot go grab the written emergency procedures when an emergency rears its head! Instead, they must be memorized, in some cases memorizing, word for word, multiple steps of a procedure: ruptured hoses, ladder failures, air hose failures, building collapses, water loss, blocked exits, etc. In cases such as these, the firefighter must be able to immediately recall the necessary emergency procedure in order to ensure the survival of themselves and the victims they are rescuing.

Remember the others in the fire house? There are others who are familiar with the regulations and emergency procedures besides firefighters. Inspectors, investigators, administrative personnel, and firefighter wanna-be’s. Many are even more familiar with the regulations and emergency procedures than the firefighters are!

Thus, as with the fire house, we have two important facets of firefighting regulations and procedures. First, firefighters are familiar with regulations and have memorized emergency procedures. Second, everyone who is familiar with the regulations and has memorized emergency procedures is not a firefighter.

The parallel is clear with Christians. Like firefighters, they must be familiar with their regulations and memorize critical texts. In this case, both are functions of the Bible (there is a place for church history/tradition in the “regulations” portion as well). Christians have to be familiar with the Bible – its order, it’s general content of the books, the locations of longer texts that are rich in usefulness. People who don’t know how to find the basics in the Bible are not Christians (we are assuming freedom of religion here – this wouldn’t be true in a country or culture that persecutes Christians).

Furthermore, Christians have to have scripture memorized – beyond Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16. When David wrote, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” he was only giving one reason to memorize scripture – the preparation to resist temptation. We also need to memorize scripture to be able to apply it in rapid thinking situations where it is necessary – a church council or public meeting event. Perhaps even more important is the need to be able to know the scriptures relevant to witnessing to others about Christ. Failure to have scripture is failure to know the emergency procedure, and not only is a recipe for failure, but is evidence that the person is not a Christian.

Finally, Christians have to believe the entire Bible. Picking and choosing which parts to believe is as foolhardy as firefighters picking and choosing which procedures to learn and which to blow off. Both lead to death.

Unlike firefighters, who have to know the emergency procedures to become a firefighter in the first place, Christians certainly have a progression in this area. But, if someone claims to have been a Christian for any length of time and has not memorized some scriptures, that person is not a Christian.

Again, there are those who know the Bible very well. They know their church history, they know their traditions and doctrines, and they have memorized scriptures. However, that does not make them Christians any more than going to church does. Sadly, there are even pastors and priests who fit this category.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.

- The Second Epistle of St. Peter, Chapter Three, Verses 14-16

The relationship of the Christian to the Bible is also worth getting right, and worth remembering when discerning who is, and who is not, a Christian.


  • I'm curious as to how it is appropriate for us as mere mortals to play God and discern who is or is not a Christian. Is there anywhere in Jesus teachings that tells us we have that right to judge? In fact there is nothing in the bible that says that we must memorize the text in order to be believers in the teachings of Christ. Doesn't it instead say:

    Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are they who mourn,
    for they shall be comforted.

    Blessed are the meek,
    for they shall possess the earth.

    Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they shall be satisfied.

    Blessed are the merciful,
    for they shall obtain mercy.

    Blessed are the pure of heart,
    for they shall see God.

    Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they shall be called sons of God.

    Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    It doesn't say anywhere that he who has memorized the text and considers himself most pious is a true Christian. I believe that falls under the sin of arrogance or pride. If a person has not memorized the bible to the satisfaction of the person judging them - does that mean that they are unworthy of our compassion and charity? I'm not sure where the Christian lesson is here.

    By Blogger frstlymil, at 5/17/2005 07:58:00 PM  

  • frstlymil,
    You must have missed this part of the post.

    Again, there are those who know the Bible very well. They know their church history, they know their traditions and doctrines, and they have memorized scriptures. However, that does not make them Christians any more than going to church does. Sadly, there are even pastors and priests who fit this category.

    Also, I missed where I said that someone who 'considers themselves most pious is a true Christian'. My point, summarized, is this:

    Christians learn and believe the Bible. If you aren't familiar with or at least actively learning the Bible, you aren't a Christian. However, just knowing the Bible doesn't make you a Christian.

    I do not have the power to judge - nor do you. That is reserved for the King. However, wouldn't you agree that we have to discern whether or not we are talking to a Christian or not? If so, we talk of things that edify believers. If not, we speak of things that lead (Lord willing) to salvation.

    This has nothing to do with legalism and everything to do with helping the lost...and the found. I'm sorry you misunderstood - I hope I cleared it up.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 5/17/2005 10:45:00 PM  

  • Hammer,

    I recently had a very powerful experience. It was sorta like the "Who are you Lord?" thing. Haven't felt a thing since.
    It's like what I'd always known to be true...REALLY became true...then it wasn't. Don't make sense...don't know why I putting this here.

    By Blogger David Hunley, at 5/17/2005 11:32:00 PM  

  • Careful with this statement, Hammer:
    "Christians learn and believe the Bible. If you aren't familiar with or at least actively learning the Bible, you aren't a Christian. However, just knowing the Bible doesn't make you a Christian"

    While I agreet that as Christians we should become familiar with the text or actively seek to learn it, I don't think it makes you a Christian.

    Remember our brother's and sisters in Christ you are persecuted for having the Bible in their possesion. Most of them can't read it or understand it, very few actively seek it because of the death sentance it brings to not only them but to their family as well. I guarntee you, however,that they are Christians.
    I know this isn't exactly where you are going with this but just mentioning the need to be careful in your wording here. I also know you are speaking to a western church who doesn't have the death sentance for reading the Bible but we must strive to inform those who may one day walk into a mission field with such a scenerio happening.

    By Blogger anna, at 5/18/2005 12:12:00 AM  

  • Anna,
    I agree 100%. I know that because these posts are long,it is easy to miss stuff, so I'll point out the two parts relevant to what you brought up:

    we are assuming freedom of religion here – this wouldn’t be true in a country or culture that persecutes Christians


    Again, there are those who know the Bible very well. They know their church history, they know their traditions and doctrines, and they have memorized scriptures. However, that does not make them Christians any more than going to church does. Sadly, there are even pastors and priests who fit this category

    These are short statements in a long post, but as you said, they are important distinctions.

    You're the second person to miss my statement about knowing the Bible doesn't make you a Christian, so I'm going to go back and bold that portion.

    Stick with me through the end, and we may have your issue addressed. If not, I'll put it as an addendum. I, also, had a powerful personal experience (see "The Change" in the sidebar). I've not had one like it since. I don't think that God is in the business of 'proving' his presence to us regularly. He's given us the evidence and the instructions - we are to act on those alone!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 5/18/2005 12:23:00 AM  

  • Hammer, I have to admit I skimmed. Sorry about that. I honestly didn't think you had that line of thinking but wanted to bring up that point.
    Will read again when I'm not packing and wrestling an 18month old.

    Enjoying the parables very much!

    By Blogger anna, at 5/18/2005 01:40:00 AM  

  • Thanks for responding - and this is a good discussion, btw...Actually - I determine what a person is like by how they act - and whether or not they are Christian is not the first thing that comes to mind, since there are people of other faiths, well versed in their text, that do good works and behave a lot better than some I know that behave badly from Monday to Saturday because they'll get saved on Sunday. If they are rude to the waiter or the pizza guy - if they crowd an elderly woman off an elevator - if they ignore a homeless person and then make a derogatory comment about them rather than recognizing that("there but for the grace of God, go I") and then talk about church last Sunday - then that is how form my own opinion. As respects knowing and believing every word of our bible - there is too much evidence that the text was written by fallible humans to not be completely critical of some passages - for example I do not subscribe that the following are Christian ideology in the least - yet they are in the bible:

    Hosea 13:16 - "Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open."

    Leviticus 26:27 - "But if, despite this, you disobey me, and continue hostile to me, I will continue hostile to you in fury; I in turn will punish you myself sevenfold for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters."

    1 Samuel 15:3 - "Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."

    Then there is that whole thing about Moses clearly stating that in order to be a Christian you had to be circumsized, and the desciples later arguing the point in the book of John and deciding that just wasn't necessary. So, I personally think of the text as a tool box to use through life - I'm not going to need a phillips when it calls for a flat-head, etc...

    By Blogger frstlymil, at 5/18/2005 09:14:00 AM  

  • frstlymil,
    If we are qualified to pick and choose which to beleive and which not to believe, why in the world would anyone choose to believe the most incredible part - that God, who cannot abide sin, came to earth as a human, died, and rose again, and provides eternal life?

    The passages that you quote are from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is true, and its primary purpsoe was to demonstrate our inability to live up to the law, as well as demonstrating God's presence through his people.

    Moses never said what we need to ddo to become a Christian. He died a couple of thousand years before Christ made Christianity available.

    You are on to something with your perception of who is, and is not, a Christian. It is the subject of Firefighter Parable #3, above.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 5/18/2005 01:19:00 PM  

  • Nothing makes a person a Christian beyond faith and faith alone. Anything else is secondary at best. Knowledge of the Gospel (not gospels) is important as it is a means of providing faith, but beyond a person's declaration of faith there is no standard by which to judge whether they are Christian or not because nothing else adds or takes away from their justification.

    By Blogger Scott, at 5/18/2005 01:31:00 PM  

  • Scott,
    You are 100% right. I would never disagree with that statement.

    However, what I am seeking to do is not explain what makes a Christian, but how we identify them. We don't want to do that to 'judge' them, but we do need to make a decision about people we meet and know, so as to tailor our spiritual conversations with them. If they are Christians, we discuss things that edify. If not, we attempt to lead them to salvation.

    Does that make sense?

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 5/18/2005 02:48:00 PM  

  • Sort of yes... sort of no... Yes in the sense that fellowship with one another is a wonderful, God-given gift by which we are sustained in the faith, so it is right to seek it out. I simply dissagree with your method, anything beyond a confession of faith is too much in my opinion. Furthermore, and this is semi-unrelated to what you are discussing in your post, but our edification, I believe, shouldn't look all that different than our evangelism- both should be concerned solely with pointing our brothers and sisters to Christ crucified. "Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him [...] He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    By Blogger Scott, at 5/18/2005 07:13:00 PM  

  • Well said, Scott. I agree that edification is helping our brothers and sisters turn to Christ for everything. After all, I'm not about to disagree with Bonhoeffer - The Cost of Discipleship is one of the most important books in the development of my faith.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 5/18/2005 11:04:00 PM  

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