People Matter

Danny LaRay Crider (Papa)

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My grandfather passed away. It’s been just over two weeks. 

I’ve never experienced death before this. I know it’s only God that’s helped us through. I  know there will be sad days, but right now I can raise my hands and sing “It is well”, because it is. Papa is not confined to a painful, limited body. He is free to worship in the place where the Elders bow to Jesus and cast their crowns at His feet. He can endlessly sing holy to God amidst the never ceasing choir of angels… it is well.

God really is always good to us, even in pain, even when we wonder why Papa’s body had to pass from this life. We need to remember that he loved God and was living in God’s calling. 

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)

Papa lived a good, long life. He enjoyed his kids and grandkids, stayed strong in the faith, and died in love with Jesus Christ, the God of our salvation. How wonderful.

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Everything that’s been said of him was true . 

He was a giver.

He knew how to appreciate what he had.

He cherished people.

He was always the first to bring you encouragement.

He wasn’t afraid to give all he had for the higher call.

People’s feelings were always more important to him than the material things.

Everyone needs someone like Danny,” they’d say, and every bit of it is true.

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He is an example worth following; but his life is only worth following because he followed after the One life to be followed. He lived to serve. 

In all that has been said of him, I’ve concluded it to fit into this one phrase… people matter.

That was his life song. People matter. He lived by it. But that wasn’t all he lived by. He lived to please God. He fell in love with our Savior and, in turn, desired all that our Lord desired. To Jesus, people matter. And to Papa, Jesus mattered. So, in him giving himself to serving God, he gave himself to serving others. To serving people. Because people do matter. 

Some may say, “We should be less focused on people and more focused on the living Word of God.” We need to understand, though, that to be focused on God is to be focused on people; because God is focused on people. 

Every page of our Bible speaks, “People matter to Me”.

The Gospel is page upon page of God screaming “You matter to Me. You are my people and you matter.” Jesus came to our sin filled world (Isaiah 9:6; John 12:46). He obeyed the perfect will of God. He served people. He lived to die for us. He endured unimaginable torture (Luke 9:22). He flooded past the gates of Hell and took the keys to life and death (Revelation 1:18). He came back to us to prove that He’d not leave us (Matthew 28:19-20). He gave us the power He had on this earth (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5; 1:8). And He sent us out to serve people (John 21:15). He sent us to finish His work. People do matter.

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambsHe saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheepHe saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

Papa loved Jesus. Proof? He fed the lambs and the sheep. Papa taught truth to the children and spoke the Words of God to everyone around him. His children and grandchildren were fed the truth. He’d always spend time with the youth at his church and his nieces and nephews because he loved the early minds. He was feeding the lambs. He was feeding the sheep. 

Over the past few weeks, since he’s been gone, a myriad of people have come to us and told us how Papa was like a father to them. He’d make you feel so loved. He invested in the lives of the young and old. The children and the adults. The loved and the unloved. He was there for people. He showed up, and he fed the sheep. 

Papa didn’t just fill our bellies with the pleasurable things. He fed us with sustenance. He fed Jesus’ sheep with the truth. He taught us to pray for understanding in God’s Word. He taught us the way to have eternal life. He told us of the plans and path it takes to get to Heaven. When our hearts were pricked and we wondered what to do, he’d remind us of the only thing there is to do, “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39). He reminded us of the promises. 

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… Danny LaRay Crider …

Papa taught unity. He taught peace. He showed us that there was something bigger than this life and it’s worth pursuing. He told us the things we needed to do, even when they weren’t the things we wanted to do. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:1-7). To Papa people were worth dying for. He suffered much pain and physical illness part of his life and in every season of weakness and hurt, he’d remind himself and us that God is good and that there is a higher call. His words ring in my ears. “If just one soul is save through all of this, it will be worth every bit of it.” If one life is drawn back to God and falls as deeply in love with Him as I am, every pain and tear will be worth more than I can give. That was his mind set. And I believe that far more than one soul has been and will be brought to the truth and love of Jesus through Papa’s life. 

One of my cousins spoke at the burial the day after Papa’s funeral.

He read the scripture, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22); a scripture that needs to be copied down, carved in our minds, and plastered on the walls. Jake read this verse and spoke truth. Maybe I won’t quote it exactly how he did, but he said this and it stuck so tight to me. 

“It’s not enough to be doers of good. We have to be like Danny and be doers of truth“. -Jake Walden-

Not just doers of good, doers of truth. Wow. I’m awe struck by the clarity and distinction between “just good” and “the truth” It’s not enough to do the good things if we’re not doing the true things that are the infallible Word’s of the Lord. Like Papa, we must be doers of truth

One scripture that I can say his life showed over abundantly is this, “…faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). In fact, I think Papa must’ve read the book of James a lot. He lived what it teaches. He worked, and not for the vain things, but for the good things, for the true things. I feel like this verse fits into Papa’s story so well. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18).

Many times Papa quoted these words, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8). That’s exactly what he did, too. He thought on the good things. He lived to love. He served people. He worshiped and loved and talked with and lived a life for Jesus. For this man I am thankful. 

. . .

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” (I Peter 5:10-11)


Our pastor, Pastor Tim Hammond, preached a message Sunday night about Papa. It’s titled “Danny’s Day”. I’d love for you to go watch it. 

Olivia Fortner

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Of the People, By the People, for the People.

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I believe in you. I believe you were made to do great things, and I believe that you will. I know you were formed with a purpose tied to your core. And whatever you choose to believe, I know that there is a God who loves every bit of you.

Do you want to know why? Because even before the world began He knew you (2 Timothy 1:9). He knew who you were. He knew who you were going to be. He knows the things you dream about when you lay in bed at night, and He’s so interested in who you are.  

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. -Jeremiah 1:5.

 

I like to think God has been waiting all of these years for you to finally get here. I think that maybe your story is part of what kept Him going. 

You know, there was a time when God was so angry with all people that He wanted to completely destroy every breathing thing. 

And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. -Genesis 6:6-8.

The Creator of all things was going to destroy what had the ability to be His best creation, but the wickedness they chose, lead Him to grief and shame for what He’d created. God felt deep regret for even making humans. 

BUT… there was one human that kept Him going. There was one story of commitment that kept us here. God felt regret for the people of that day, but this one story pushed God to think past His painful emotion and find another way.

 

 

What if you are a Noah? What if you are what keeps God going?

I’m imaginative about all of this, and sometimes I wonder. When Jesus was flooded with anxiety, begging for this mission to be taken and for the excruciatingly painful task to be done away with, was your story on His mind?

When He knew what He had to do, were you the thing that made the misery worth it? 

I can see Him stretched across the splintering wood. Blood and tears dripping from His body. Breathless. Aching. Feeling forsaken. Crying out to God. 

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” –Matthew 27:46

In this moment, what if He had a “flash-forward”? The memory was there because He’d already seen our lives. He knew us before He created the world. His mind was flooded with memories of the future, memories of the potential you and I are filled with.

Some say, right before you die, your life’s memories flash before your eyes. But what if, not His life, but our lives flashed before His eyes. That’s how He knew He had to do it. That’s how He knew it would all be worth it. Our lives would make the pain worth it. 

 

And now, the time has passed. Maybe He’s waited anxiously to see your beautiful story unfold. Finally, finally you are here. He couldn’t destroy all of humanity back then because your story was playing on repeat in His head. He couldn’t let that be lost forever. He loves you with the purest love possible. He endured every bit of mental and physical suffering so that you would have a chance. He died that day, fought the forces of Hell, gained the key to life and death, rose up and walked out of that grave; all for you and for me.

God gave us the mercy to keep us alive in the Old Testament, and He gave us the grace to do something with that life in the New Testament. 

Now it’s our time to show Him that it was not in vain. Every bit of love was not in vain.

 

” …It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” -Abraham Lincoln // The Gettysburg Adress

 

We have the potential to live for and love that same God who went through such things for us. Jesus was one of us, the sacrifice was made by Him, for us– the people, of all time. Let’s get out there and live. Let’s live for Him now.

Your past may not look like something He’d want to fight for, but Honey let me tell you. That past is what lead you to this present, and this present is what leads to showing God that it really was worth it. This present and our future is the opportune time to finally live a life fully alive.

 

I’m rooting for you,

Olivia