11.07.2014

What would you post on God's Facebook Wall?

I am feeling a little nostalgic this morning as God brings back the faces of many youth Donna and I have had an opportunity to minister to over the years.  Back in 2011 on a Wednesday night I asked some teenagers to write down a question they would want to post on God's wall if He were on facebook.  I was overwhelmed by their honesty and heart felt questions.  Maybe you can identify with some of them.

  • God, What is my purpose in life. I need you to show me my path, I’m so confused. 
  • What is my purpose?
  • Why do you make certain things happen?
  • God, why did you put up with our evil and wicked ways for so long?
  • Happy Father’s Day! Love you! Will we be able to fly in Heaven?
  • Hold me close. Love ya!
  • Will you be my Savior and love me?
  • Come back to me.
  • Truth is I don’t know you too well and we should get to know each other better.
  • God, you've been God to me at the majority of my life. I love you for that. You’ve blessed my entire life. I apologize for the times I cursed you. Continue to work in me. 
  • How great Your love for us. We don’t deserve your love!
  • I love you.
  • So I was thinking the other day...I kinda miss that super feel good feeling...but don’t worry, I got my Bible so we can hang soon. K bye.
  • I love You.
  • Thank You.
  • Thanks for everything even though I’m ungrateful You bless me anyways.
  • Thank You, God, for answering my prayers in the way that you know is best for me; whether it’s what I want or not, I know it’s right.
  • The Lord my God, you are truly a great man. I just want to thank you for all the beautiful things you have created and just for life in general.
  • Thank you for everything that has been going on lately, good and bad. I love you. 
  • Thank you.
  • Thanks for being there for me.
  • You’re the best. Thanks God for always being there.
  • Thanks for everything and for life. It’s been good so far. I look forward in where you lead me.
  • Thanks. Love you. Are you real?
  • Dear God, You’re the most awesome thing that’s happened in my life.
  • Hi God! Thanks for letting me wake up today. You’re the best! So I was wondering why the world has to be so chaotic?
The youth that wrote these have had many more life experiences and opportunities for their faith to grow since writing these questions.  I pray God continues to draw them close and watch over them.  I wonder what questions they have now. I can see myself in their statements as well, can you? What would you post on God's Facebook wall?

11.06.2014

Thank You For Posting My Bail for the 2014 Muscular Dystrophy Lockup


I wanted to take a moment to all those who posted bail for my incarceration to benefit Muscular Dystrophy.  All of the proceeds went directly to children here in Anderson, SC which enabled them to go to a Summer Camp structured specifically for them.  I have had the priviledge of meeting children and their families over the years who have been recipients and it melts my heart.  I treasure my friends and family that joined my passion for helping these children.  The lock-up event is over but if you would like to give, my page will remain active for 45 days for donations.

Thank You!

James


9.18.2014

Family First

One reason for Donna and I moving closer to home was to be available to take care of our parents.  This picture is the view from my mother's hospital window where she has been for the last week.. Many friends are praying and God is proving His faithfulness more every day. Thank You God for the opportunity to take care of the ones who have taken care of me.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

The faithful love of the lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

9.15.2014

My Monday Morning Preaching Hangover of Discouragment


First off, I love what I do!  The fact that God has allowed me to represent Him to others is mighty humbling. Yesterday was a tremendous day for our church! In the morning service I had the privilege of leading my first deacon ordination service and in the evening I watched in amazement as two missionaries shared how our church is impacting our world. I am elated that God worked in such a special way.  He seems to be doing a lot of that lately. With everything that went right, why would there be any cause for discouragment?


The fact is, I can focus on the few little things that went wrong over the many things that went right.  The good thing is, it drives me to shore up all the areas of my life and ministry. The bad thing is losing the blessing of what God is presently doing.  The Bottom Line is after a week of ministry and being concerned for my mother who is in the hospital, my spiritual tank is running low.  Monday mornings seem to be the worst for me. I am reminded of Elijah who does a great work for God yet finds himself hiding in a cave shortly there after [1 Kings 18-19].  I am certainly NOT Elijah but I can identify with the highs and lows of ministry. There is a euphoria that occurs when anyone gets to experience God's Holy Spirit at work in, around and through them.  It is a feeling to which no substance or relationship can compare.  However, as with any mountain top experience, at some point we must go back down in the valley. This is where we grow.


I Love When God Uses My Own Words Against Me :)

This morning was one of those "hangover" moments where I really wanted to have a pity party.  I wanted to wear the badge of discouragement for all to see.  It's funny how sometimes we think we are entitled to happiness all the time.  Jesus made it clear we are entitled to nothing.  God reminded me of what I have told people for years.  When you are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, pick up a bible, look in the back for topics you are dealing with and read the verses referenced there.  God reminded me of a few things this morning:


1)  In times of discouragement it is important to keep your FAITH.
  • [Exodus 9:1] “Go back to Pharaoh,” the Lord commanded Moses. “Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.

2)  When The Moment Discouragement Shows Itself, PRAY!
  • [1 Samuel 1:10] Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.

3)  Do Not Let OTHERS Discourage You! [I preached this a few weeks ago]
  • [Nehemiah 4:1-4] Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, 2 saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!” 4 Then I prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land!
4)  Make Discouragement Drive You Back To God's PURPOSE!
  • [Nehemiah 4:10-14] 10 Then the people of Judah began to complain, “The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.” 11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.” 12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!” 13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. 14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
5)  Turn Discouragement Into OPPORTUNITY!
  • [Philippians 1:12-14] 12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to read this article.  I pray that if and when you face discouragement that this post may help you.  The great thing about discouragement is that it only comes for a season.  Everytime we interject God's word into our lives, it has a way of realigning us to His will.  God's Word has been the aspirin for this Pastor's monday morning hangover, I pray if you are discouraged you may do the same.

9.02.2014

Preparing For My New Vision Family Reunion

New Vision - 1992
It has begun!  I have dusted off my 5-String Bass Guitar, cranked up the amp to eleven and started the process of charting out songs for our Charleston Southern University - New Vision Reunion. New Vision was an ensemble that played over 100 concerts a year for churches, youth rallies, prisons, rotary club meetings, and Walmart Grand Openings (Ok, Kidding On That One).  At one point, we had been in just about every church in SC and NC. (Not literally but it felt like it).


Our Director, Dr. Rick Brewer (@rickbrewer) valiantly led us not only as a group but pastor and friend. Hard to believe it has been twenty-two years since we performed together. We shared many hours, miles, hardships, blessings and close calls together in a 15 passenger van and cargo trailer.  I am forever grateful for my New Vision family. (Those before and after me). Those years shaped me into who I am today and gave me friends for a lifetime. I look forward to seeing them again in October.


New Vision Van
First song on deck was "You'll Still Be Lord of All" by Truth.  Man those songs became just as special to me as those I played them with. Next, I will continue to brush off the cobwebs, stretch the fingers and try to find the bass player I once was :) Next on deck is "There Is A Hope" by Truth.

Also, a big shout out to Mark Childers (@bassmmmbass) who played bass for Truth and is currently playing with Carrie Underwood. I am grateful to have had the privilege of meeting you and trying to woefully replicate your lines on many of our songs. You Rock!


5.21.2014

And The Winner Is . . .

Our culture is obsessed with recognizing its own achievements.  We see this played out in countless televised awards shows.  Celebrities among the entertainment an athletic industries want to recognize and exalt those who standout in their field. In a strange narcissistic way they are elevating themselves.  Like a child clamoring for their parents attention we all have the tendency to say to the world, "Look at me, Look at me".

I am reminded of a church I served where we renovated a meeting space.  When taking out the walls that made a closet we found many trophies where teams from the church had won softball and basketball seasons.  Most of the trophies had pieces that were broken off, tarnished or represented people that did not attend the church anymore. They were a reminder of what was.

We are reminded in Daniel 12:3 that treasures, fame and accolades we receive while on this earth are fleeting.

"Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever."

No one can be faulted for trying to achieve rewards.  They are a representation of hard work and battles that were fought and won.  However, we must remember that they do NOT carry ETERNAL value.  When the world ends, our trophies will be destroyed.  True biblical wisdom leads us to invest in people rather than awards.  Those we impact with our faith and lead to Christ will be stars that will shine forever.  I know I have received some trophies in my lifetime but the ones I treasure most are those who God allowed me to influence for His glory. 

Remember to invest in people. Those who come to know a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ will shine forever.

3.31.2014

Who Would Have Thought, Google Plus?


I have been on Google+ since its beta inception in November of 2011.  I have embraced social media and have the obligatory Facebook and twitter profiles too.  I have found that my Google+ social circle integrates so much more with my life.  I guess because I have jumped into the whole Google ecosystem.  Every picture I take is saved, every post is recorded and at random times Google will give me a gift of a generated video or picture from my feed which they call Auto Awesome.  I have realized there is no such thing as privacy within Social Media, so I just try to live my life in a way that I do not have to worry about it.  Friends on Google+ do not ask me to play games, add to their farm or forward a message if I am "really" their friend. If you have done that, it is okay ;-) I am still your friend. Google+ seems to be a little simpler. To be clear, I am not a sponsor or receiving any compensation from this post in any way.  Google+ just works for me.

Anyway, Google+ just added a new feature that tells you how many times your profile has been viewed.  I noticed today that mine over 500,000.  I never would have guessed it would have been that many.  I pray that all I have shared in all of my social media is reflective of how blessed I am by God's saving grace.  He has given me a family that love and support me and a calling that keeps me passionate for Him and others.  I am not perfect but I am in a process.  If you have stopped by to take a look at my life, I am honored.  If you were trying to cause malice, I am praying for you. If you are one of the many persons God has used to pour into my life, for you I am eternally grateful! 

God Bless,

James
https://plus.google.com/+JamesStrickland/about

3.21.2014

My Wife Is Up To Something

My wife Donna has once again planned a weekend to the tee and given me no instruction on where we are going. All I am to do is "go with it" and rest. It is amazing that after all these years that she still puts so much effort into our marriage. God has blessed me with her. Don't know where I will end up today, but regardless she will be by my side.