10.02.2019

You Will Get Up Again


Dear believer, keep going, keep getting up, and keep depending on God! This will not overtake you!

9.26.2019

Are You Seeking Revenge?

Photo by Comfreak @ Pixabay
Whether it be in great or small degrees we all have dealt with the desire to seek revenge.  There is a deep desire within us to see things be made “right” when we have been “wronged”.

There was a man who was bitten by a wild dog. It looked as if he may die of rabies, so the doctor told him to consider planning out his will.  He took his phone out and began to type out a note.  Minutes passed and he was still feverishly typing. Finally the doctor said, “That is surely a long will you’re making.” He replied, “Doctor, who cares about a will I am making a list of all the people I’m going to bite!”

Why do we have the desire to hurt others when we are hurting?  Some call it karma, others call it payback, but in the end, does it really make us feel better?

You may or may not be familiar with the story of David in the Bible.  He was the boy who killed the giant, Goliath.  He became a hero and very popular among the people of Israel.  He became so well liked that King Saul began to feel threatened by Him.  The King was so insecure that he used his influence to put a price on David’s head to be killed.  David knew this and ran away.

Later David had the perfect opportunity for revenge, but would he take it?

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Taking Revenge Is A Decision We Make That Brings Consequences: 1 Samuel 26:7-9)

7 So David and Abishai went right into Saul’s camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him. 8 “God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” Abishai whispered to David. “Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!” 9 “No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one?
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David could have killed the king right there but He feared God more than the threat to His life.  Revenge calls you and I to lose control.  We think with our emotions and fears, rather than an objective look at the hurting we are causing someone else. Getting revenge does not make what was done to us right, it just makes us wrong, too.

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Leave The Revenge To God (1 Samuel 26:10-11)

10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!”
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It was God that caused the men to fall asleep and gave David the idea to take the king's spear and water.

If we give God our bitterness, anger, rage and desire for revenge, He will take that burden off of us.  He will also, in time, take care of the situation, without you having to compromise yourself.

We must remain loyal to God over seeking revenge for ourselves.  In the Bible you see King Saul was not loyal to David, but David was loyal to God, and God was loyal to David.

If you read the rest of David's story, you will find that God definitely dealt with King Saul and the actions he took against David.  He also honored David for his choice to not take revenge into his own hands.

HUMAN REVENGE HURTS US, STAYING LOYAL TO GOD SAVES US AND ALLOWS GOD TO DEAL WITH OTHERS.

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So if we are not to take revenge, how are we to respond?

Ephesians 4:32
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
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Can you imagine your life and this world if forgiveness was offered more than revenge.  The truth is you can change the world but it begins with you.

8.26.2019

Guest Post by Fire Chief David Burnette


I am excited to announce that over time, I have invited some guests to post on this page.  These are people that have influenced me over the years.  Would you please welcome to the page Fire Chief David Burnette of Broadway FIre Department.  David has been in the fire service for 27 years with 15 of those as Chief of Broadway FD of Anderson County.  Take a moment and read David’s story in his own words.

I am a Christian. Have I always been? Well, I am, but at times, I’ve had my doubts. This is why. I was saved and baptized at a very early age. I’ll never forget that feeling I had sitting in my big sister’s bedroom, asking Jesus to come into my heart. Even that early in life I felt as if a burden had been removed from me. Little did I know what that burden was until later in life. You know, the burden of life itself.

Jesus has always been with me, even during the times that I wasn’t with him. I grew up in a good ol’ Baptist Mill Hill Church. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve met some amazing people through this church. Then, I grew up. Life kicked in. For a while I tried to keep up and attend church, but I just wasn’t winning the battle with myself. I had a job that had me working a lot of weekends and I begin to feel that the Sundays that I didn’t have to work were my days to rest. Even when I did make it to church, I wasn’t there for the right reason. This went on for a couple of years. Then one day, God woke me up.

The job that was providing such a wonderful life was gone! I was devastated and couldn’t imagine what to do. I did what I was taught in my youth. I turned to God for guidance. Again, I was going through the motions, because this is what I was taught to do. Then, I was awakened again. Divorce hit me out of the blue. This time, I listened. I found a great church that was different from what I was used to. It was a little out of my Mill Hill church background. There’s nothing wrong with that church and it is still full of some awesome people. I just needed something to grab my attention. And boy did it ever. It was a culture shock. 

The music, the attire, the time, and several other little things. I was used to dressing up, getting to Sunday school at 10 and preaching at 11, ending at 12 on the dot. We sang hymns from a book. Not now. Up tempo modern music, starting at 10 and ending somewhere between 11:00 and 12 (most of the time). I love it. Since that time God has shown me many things and has even given me back some things that were missing in my life. I’ve gone back to school and earned another Associates degree in hopes of finding another good job to help make life a little smoother. Also, I still can’t believe it, he sent this awesome woman to come into my life. 

God is good. Relationships are better when God is in the middle of it. I see now that some things in my past, two of which are mentioned above, just didn’t have God in the middle of them. Heck, He wasn’t even invited. I thank Him for humbling me and showing me that. I had to be broken to be fixed. Now, I’m not the perfect Christian and I know it, but I’m trying. I’m not the best Christian, but is there a such of a thing? Was the late great Billy Graham a better Christian than I am? No, not in God’s eyes. He was better at it, but we’re both convinced in the FACT
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died on the cross to forgive us for all our sins. That is what counts. If you are going through some things and have hit the wall like I did, take a look around. It might just be God trying to wake you up.

I’ve been in the position to save a life many times, sometimes I did and sometimes it just wasn’t meant to be. However, that wasn’t really saving anything. I was just preventing someone from going home because God wasn’t finished with them yet. If you feel yourself needing to be saved from your current life, give me a call. I can’t save you, but I know a guy that can. His name is Jesus. He can put you in touch with his Dad and save your eternal life!!! Please don’t wait to
long. Time is running out. God is sending His Son back soon to get the rest of His children and bring them home. You don’t want to miss out on that!! Every day is closer to that day!! I’m looking forward to it, and I hope to see you there.

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Thank you David for sharing your story with us.  You truly live what you say!  We all look forward to more content from you!

8.21.2019

How To Be A Better Friend

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay 

My parents always told me to have friends you must be a friend.  I am sure they had no idea how that would apply to today and social media.  I believe that although it's different today, our basic needs are still the same.  If you want a better social media feed with true connections, try these things:
  • Rejoice with someone that has a reason to rejoice.
  • Laugh when something is funny, better yet find something to make your friend laugh.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously (You and i will never be as good as we want people to think we are :)
  • Don't be too proud to cry with someone who is crying.
  • If you don't know what to say in a tough situation, just be there in the moment and stay quiet.
  • Don't tell someone if they need you just call or text.  They will not do it.  Make an effort to help them with whatever you've got.
  • If you tell someone you will pray for them, do it!
  • Find something you can add to this list and do it.
John 15:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

8.20.2019

Why Did I Become A Firefighter?

I have only shared this story with those in the fire service and those closest to me.  For too long I felt guilty for having this double life.  Some in churches I served would say, “We don’t pay you to be a firefighter.”  People would always ask, “Will you leave a church event to go fight a fire?” to which I would respond, “Only if it is my house!”  I have tried to keep the “ministry” life and “Firefighting” life separate, but God has shown me how dumb and exhausting that is.  There are a lot of similarities between the two I can share at a later date.  I post this not for my glory, only to tell the story of what God has done.  I hope you enjoy it.

Why did I become a firefighter? 

That’s a pretty good question that could take a book length post to answer.  I will try to make it as simple as possible.  Short answer, “God led me to it”. I never thought when I took a tour of a fire station in elementary school that I would one day become a firefighter.   I remember my wife and parents were not excited about it.  Why are you going to run towards something everyone else runs from?  That was a good question to which I could only answer, “What if it was you that needed help?”  I would want someone trained to help you and I wanted to do that  for others.

Fast-forward to when I am in my late 20’s.  A friend at the church I was serving was in a fire department. I thought it would be cool to see the station, trucks, equipment etc never knowing I was about to get bit!

One night I was invited to ride along on a call.  It was a nasty car wreck.  I can still see the firemen using the Jaws of Life to cut that person out of the car.  They moved in sequence like a well oiled machine.  The trucks lit up the dark night with light towers and their warning lights.  As I mentioned a moment ago, I was bit hard by the desire to be a part of such an amazing experience.  I began to hang around the station more, got to know the crew and finally got up the nerve to get my certifications to do what God was calling me to do. I was very blessed to have a Pastor and church that let me adjust my schedule for a few weeks to get the training I needed.

Once I received my certifications I began volunteering at the fire station across the street from my church in my down time.  I laugh now when I think about how I thought I was ready to take on the world because I had my certifications.  I found that veteran fire crews have a way of knocking you down a notch and I was grateful because I needed it.  Those men that showed me the trade and gave me the tools necessary to fulfill this calling will always be heroes to me. 

A move to NC led me to another department.  I thought they were very “lucky’ to have a person of my experience and knowledge.  Again fire crews have a way of humbling the proud.  I was told fairly quickly that this is not SC so quit telling us how you used to do it. When the county decided to phase out the volunteer departments in lieu of all paid staffing, it was like a death.  I remember riding the last call on the back of Tower 383.  The thought in the back of my mind was, “This is it!” There were many great years of service there, memories and friendships on both sides of the paycheck I still have to this day. 

After moving to SC I thought my volunteering was over.  I would pray to God, “Why do I have all this knowledge and experience about the fire service yet I am not using it.”  Let me tell you something, “God is only finished with you, when He decides He is finished with you!”  In 2016 I endured a bus wreck with my church, the passing of my father in Dec and the passing of my mother in May 2017.  I am not going to lie, those days were a living Hell, that God was walking me through each day.  During the bus wreck there was a calmness and expectation to help those in need because of the training and experience I received.  As I spent much time in hospitals caring for my parents, it stoked the fires of my time as an EMT.  I knew deep down inside God wasn’t done with me yet.

Our local fire department had a fundraiser picture drive, so Donna and I went to get our pictures made.  As I walked in to that fire station it had that “smell” that every firefighter knows, (Part smoke, part diesel fumes, and part gear.)  It was intoxicating.  There were some members staffing the table for the photographer and I simply asked them if they needed any help.  Little did I know I was talking to the Chief and two officers.  I went through the application process and after some time it was official, I was in a fire department again.

This time I came in humbled knowing nothing.  You see, just because you have credentials and experience, every department does things differently.  I see everyday I get to do this as a gift from God.  To go from thinking I would never be able to do this again to being given a platform to fight fire again overwhelms me with God’s grace and mercy.  It is an extension of my ministry, It is my outlet, it is part of my calling.  There is so much more to say but for the purpose of this post I will end it here.  If it were not for God, my wife, my church and my friends, this would be impossible.  

Stop telling God what He can and cannot do in and through you.  Everything you go through will lead you to Him, if you only make yourself available.

Romans 8:28 New Living Translation (NLT)
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Thanks for Reading,

James

7.30.2019

God Is Our Refuge

Hey friends, I just shared this verse on my facebook ministry page. Stop by and take a look. Like it, share it or leave a comment if you have time. How is God moving in your life today?One friend had a prayer answered and another is in need of prayer. #Godismoving

'God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude'

Psalms 46:1-3
https://my.bible.com/bible/116/PSA.46.1-3

7.23.2019

Your Worth Is Found In God


God reminded me of something this morning. Worth is not found in what others think about us, but solely in the value He places on us. Too often it is easy to get sidetracked and sidelined by the desire to fit in and be like everyone else. I speak as someone who often deals with wanting to be liked, or pleasing other people. Too often through no fault of theirs, comparison becomes a noose that attempts to choke out my faith. This has been a life long journey for me. Am I getting better? Yes.

I remember my father-in-law who has preached for many years told me long ago, "James, your gonna have to toughen up your skin if you are going to be in ministry". That is a realization I have grown into. You must toughen your skin not to keep people out but to be able to remain true to who God has created you to be.

Do not let the opinions of others define you because they change daily. God is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Your value is found in the gospel of Jesus. You are worth dying for!

God cares for you. Even the most minuscule details of your day are orchestrated and ordained by Him. Today, fear God, not man. Live in the value that God has placed upon you, not what others try to place on you!

'And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.' - Luke 12:7

7.20.2019

Seeing The Face of God Through Special Children and A Fire Truck


I had the privilege of helping Erik Aiken and Jesse McElrath with Broadway Fire Department in doing a Firetruck "Display and Spray' for a group of children with special needs yesterday. The was an event sponsored by an organization called A Night To Remember.

I have done many of these presentations over the years to kids who could care less, but these kiddos thought it was the coolest thing ever. We don't claim to be a heroes but these children, parents and leaders made us feel like one. I truly saw another aspect of the face of God in the eyes and faces of those precious children.

Here's what Jesus says . . .

(Luke 9:1-3 NLT) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

Children with special disabilities do not want our pity, they want our attention and love. They are children who do not let their situation define them. They live their lives and love like anyone else and those who care for them are the true heroes!!!!!!!!!

I Am Starting A Facebook Page



I'm starting something new today.. . 

It's something I have been praying about for some time. I am starting a Facebook page to begin posting my thoughts on life, ministry, faith and fire. I wanted to start a FB page to go in tandem with this website. I will be moving most of my public type posts to this page. I do not seek the limelight, but believe this is God's prompting. I will say more about this soon. There will be at least one post a week. I would be honored if you would like, follow and share it. I look forward to your ideas, comments and journey as I begin to "step up" this part of my life and ministry. God Bless


www.facebook.com/jamesbstricklandministries/

7.17.2019

Move Those Mountains


This post is more for me than anyone I guess but today has been crazy and It isn't even noon. I have had to opportunity to fight a fire a large with my brothers and sisters of the ACFD, get relieved to go home, clean up and get ready to send off a dear friend of our church that passed away this week. Later tonight at 6:30pm I will lead our Wednesday night prayer meeting and bible study.

I am not posting this for attention or replies. I just want to thank God for revealing to me that for much of my life I have been waiting on God for the next thing rather than fully living in all He has provided in the now. I can't believe I get to do what I do and know the people I know.

Also, many may think that conducting a funeral comes easy to a Pastor but truthfully it is not. I am fortunate enough today to know this sweet lady lived her eulogy. She lived Jesus in front of all and walked humbly. Thanks for taking a minute to read this and whatever you do today, thank God for providing it.

If you think you don't have the faith to make it, take heart! Jesus said in Luke 17:6, that if you have the faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains! That's the funny thing about faith. It is always stronger than you think and like a muscle only hurts when you use it :)

Be blessed today and move those mountains!

7.10.2019

Thank God For The Roundabouts

Image by Tayyab Bashir from Pixabay

Random thought for tonight's lesson: 

Exodus 13:17 says that when Pharaoh let the Israelites go, God did not lead them along the main road which was the shortest route because it was more dangerous. He took them on a roundabout way through the wilderness while guiding them with a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. Sounds like the journeys God sends us on may not be the most direct route, but there are reasons He takes us on the roundabout. Also, He guides us if we will just look for Him! 

What lesson has God showed you on your roundabout journey?