Declare Unto Them God

“We must know who God is before we can declare Him to the people” -Olivia Fortner-

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I want us to fall in love with the Bible. It is the living Word of God. The Bible was written for us to get to know God.

 

Hannah Brencher explained it so well when she said, “The Bible is rich and fatty and good for you and still the culture tells us the Bible is like lettuce. It’s not flashy. It’s not proud. But it is the living, breathing Word of God. If you want to hear Him speak, it’s a whole book of Him just talking to you.”

 

I’m going to start pushing to read the Bible more and more, because the Word of God will keep us. Something I love that I’ve always heard my mom say is “Keep reading the Bible, because it will keep you.” It will keep us in the will of God and it will keep us in love with God. Reading the Bible teaches us and opens so many doors of curiosity and learning. It is a way for us to learn God.

 

. . .

 

I’ve been reading the book of Acts lately. Today I read chapter 17. I want talk about that chapter for a bit. You go grab your leather bound Bible and a cup of coffee and let’s start reading. (Here’s a link to the scriptures if you’d like to read here).

 

 

I loved this chapter because Paul’s message is a full statement of God. 

 

 

Paul was waiting on some of his buddies to get in town.

While he was there waiting, I imagine he strolled Athen’s city streets. I can see him watching the people and observing the culture that had seeped into every bit of the city. It wasn’t good culture though. What he saw, was a nation entirely given to worshiping idols. It stirred him so deeply. Verse 16 says, “His spirit was stirred in him.”

He was so stirred that he started talking. He sought to change the city and turn it away from the sin. He spoke with leaders. He talked with those he’d meet in the market place. Every day. He disputed about the idolatry and preached to them Jesus.

Certain people heard of him and wanted to know what he was all about. They brought him to a place called Areopagus and asked him about all he’d been disputing over. So Paul stood in the middle of Mar’s Hill, and guess what he said. He called them of their faults. “I think you’re too superstitious,” Paul said. He told them how he’d watched and saw the center of their worship. He spoke of how he’d found an alter with the words “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” written on it. 

Paul saw that they worshiped a God without knowing or comprehending Him. “Ignorance,” he said. “You don’t know God, but I do… so I will declare Him unto you. 

|Definition of declare :  to make known formally, officially, or explicitly  :  to make clear to make evident  :  to state emphatically :  affirm (From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)|

 

 

I will declare Him unto you.

And there he goes, Standing in the midst of Mar’s Hill, in Athens Greece. 

 

“That God that you mark as unknown, I’ll tell ya about Him.”

 

And Paul so beautifully exclaims to them God. 

Then he tells them of the the resurrection and how Jesus is coming back for us. 

Some mock him. Some wonder. But some believe and grow hungry for the truth of God. 

. . .

I want my spirit to be stirred when I see all that is around me. 

When I see my nation wholly giving itself to idolatry, cruel violence, lust and adultery, vanity… and the list could go on, I want my spirit to be stirred. Why do I look at the sin and let it fall into the back of my mind as if it’s nothing to worry about? Why am I not stirred deep down? 

I want to tell people about Jesus. I want to let them know that He is alive and coming back for us. I want them to know God loves us. I want you to know that Jesus loves us. He’s here and wants us to get to know Him. I want to declare God like Paul did in Acts 17:24-31. I want people to believe and grow hungry for the truth of God like they did when they heard Paul’s declaration.

But how can I declare who God is if I don’t know Him myself? I must get to know God. I must cultivate a relationship with Him every single day. That is why I’m starting on scripture. Scripture and prayer.  Read Paul’s declaration of God to the people who don’t know Him, in Acts chapter 17. Print it out. Plaster it on the walls. Know who God is and declare Him to the people. Declare for yourself, the truth of who God is. 

 

Olivia Fortner

|ACTS 17:16-34|

(This post is scripture and goes with another post titled “Declare Unto Them God”)

 

16) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, 

his spirit was stirred in him,

when he saw the city

wholly given to idolatry.

17) Therefore disputed he in

the synagogue with the Jews,

and with the devout persons,

and in the market daily

with them that met with him.

18) Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans,

and of the Stoicks, encountered him.

And some said, What will this babbler say?

other some, He seemeth to be

a setter forth of strange gods:

because he preached unto them

Jesus, and the resurrection.

19) And they took him,

and brought him unto Areopagus,

saying, May we know what

this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

20) For thou bringest certain

strange things to our ears:

we would know therefore

what these things mean.

21) (For all the Athenians and strangers

which were there spent their

time in nothing else,

but either to tell, or to hear

some new thing.)

22) Then Paul stood in the

midst of Mars’ hill,

and said, Ye men of Athens,

I perceive that in all things

ye are too superstitious.

23) For as I passed by, and beheld

your devotions,

I found an altar with this inscription, 

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship,

him declare I unto you.

24) God that made the world

and all things therein,

seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth,

dwelleth not in temples

made with hands;

25) Neither is worshipped

with men’s hands,

as though he needed any thing,

seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

26) And hath made of one blood

all nations of men for to dwell on

all the face of the earth,

and hath determined the

times before appointed,

and the bounds of their habitation;

27) That they should seek the Lord,

if haply they might feel after him, and find him,

though he be not far from every one of us:

28) For in him we live, and move,

and have our being; as certain also of

your own poets have said,

For we are also his offspring.

29) Forasmuch then as we are the

offspring of God, we ought not

to think that

the Godhead is like unto

gold, or silver, or stone, graven by

art and man’s device.

30) And the times of this ignorance

God winked at; but now commandeth

all men every where to repent:

31) Because he hath appointed

a day, in the which he will judge

the world in righteousness

by that man whom he hath ordained;

whereof he hath given assurance

unto all men, in that he hath

raised him from the dead.

32) And when they heard of the

resurrection of the dead, some mocked:

and others said, We will hear thee

again of this matter.

33) So Paul departed from among them.

34) Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: 

 

ACTS 17:16-34 King James Version

 

Olivia Fortner

 

People Matter

Danny LaRay Crider (Papa)

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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It’s All a Trust Fall

 

I stand here, blind to the evidence of human presence. I close my eyes. Take a deep breath, and let myself fall back into the empty air. My stomach tenses. My muscles brace for impact. They told me they’d be there to catch me. I know they’ll be just beyond the point of catching myself. I’m tempted to throw my leg back and stop the fall, but no. I’ll prove that I have trust.

And just before I hit the ground, as soon as I fall too far to bring myself up again, I sink into their embrace. A breath of relief floods. I knew it! I told you I trusted. I did it. The worst part is over and I know within myself that I can do a trust fall.

 

Trust is Faith

 

This life takes trust. It takes a whole lot of surrender. Living this life takes surrendering our entire selves to God. We have to trust He’ll protect us in our surrender. Because trust— is faith.

Trusting God is hard. It’s hard because we are people who have to see it to believe. It’s hard because trusting God takes hearing, and we’ve been let down too many times by someone who didn’t keep their word. We’ve tried trusting by hearing. We’ve heard them say we could trust them; but the words we heard never happened. Hearing just doesn’t work for us. We want to see.

Trusting in God is hard because people are not always trustworthy.

People have let us down so many times, until we stand back up and decide that we will not trust again. Our walls climb high keeping us from trusting anyone. We will trust no one but ourselves.

 

I know, at the beginning God told me He would be here. He told me He would be with me. He’d be right behind me if I needed to lean back.  I can trust He’ll catch me before I fall. He said He wouldn’t leave. Everything was so clear. I could trust. His voice was so close, I knew He had to be right there with me. But it’s been a while since I’ve heard the nearness. I don’t hear Him shuffling behind me. I can’t see Him. What if He’s not standing to catch me? It will hurt too badly to fall. Oh, please be here God; please be here to catch me. 

 

God is not people.

 

Trust the promises. Trust that He’ll be there. He said He would, and He will.

 

So, we ask the questions like, “How do I trust when my faith is weak?” or “How can I trust His words when I don’t even know what His words are?”

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17

Dig deep into your Bible. It’s there. The words of God are there for you to hear. And when you hear, you will receive faith and your faith will be your trust.

 

 

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” -II Corinthians 5:7-

 

“The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.”  -2 Samuel 22:3-

 

“Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.” -Psalms 115:11-

 

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” -Proverbs 3:5-

 

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” -Proverbs 30:5-

 

“The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” -Nahum 1:7-

 

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” -Psalms 20:7-

“It’s not easy. Don’t give up. It takes everything you have when you’re called to Love.” -Echoing Angels-

 

-Olivia Fortner-

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What is Trust?

Trust is the action taken to get to Faith. “For without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6. 

 

The opposite of faith is fear. 

 

The backbone of faith is trust. 

 

The legs of faith is obedience. 

 

When we have to know all the details about a trial, we’re walking by sight; but when we trust God while we cannot see the outcome, we’re walking by faith. When we trust and accept without question, we move into a dimension of greater peace and intimacy with God. When it looks like there’s no way out for you, just trust, believe, and pray. 

Faith is born in the storm, and conceived in the impossible. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t stop short of the prize. The greater the conflict the greater the victory. “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalms 37:5.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Verse six tells us our reward for trusting the Lord. He will direct us in our lives and help us travel in the right direction. Sometimes we hear people say, “I wish I knew what I was supposed to do in this situation.” What they need to know is that the Lord will direct all of us if we will trust and acknowledge Him. 

People trust in things everyday. We go to our light switch and flip it on, expecting the lights to come on. We don’t even think about the electricity coming through the power lines. We trust, if we have paid our bill, that the lights will come on when we turn on the switch. We should have that same trust in God to supply our needs. 

If we pray, fast, and believe, it is the equivalent of paying our power bill. The power is there for our benefit if we have done what we need to do.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

So pray and trust. 

-Rebecca Crider-

 


 

Rebecca Crider first and foremost loves God. She loves her husband, children, grandchildren, sons in law and all of her family. She is so devoted to them and their wellbeing, spiritually as well as physically. She is a prayer warrior and an encourager to many.

If her family is well and happy, she is happy (also the beach; that makes her happy too). Her goal is to be with Jesus for eternity and take somebody with her. 

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Thank you to my lovely grandmother for writing this guest post.

Fear is Afraid?… Of What?

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Trust.

Let all the fear flow out of your fingertips. Let it all flow out of you.  

Fear. We don’t need it. What we need is trust; but it’s hard to trust when this fear is captivating. Sometimes it gets a grip on us. Sometimes fear twists our stomachs into knots and tries to kill all hope of trusting. 

This fear is hard to fight. We throw our fists at it over and over again and don’t seem to gain any lead way. Why can’t we get ahead? I know that fear is no weak creature. I know it’s strong, but it’s not the strongest.

Imagine us without fear. Stop for a moment. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself if fear touched you no more. Don’t imagine how you’d be if fear had never entered you heart. That fear was necessary for who you are. Just imagine life without fear, beyond this point. Go ahead, do it…

Wow. Awe struck. Right? Yea, me too. But guess what, it’s even better than that. Your life withoutl fear is better than you can imagine because it’s a life with full trust in God. Utter surrender to the God above all gods (Psalm 135:5), the God who really loves you and just sits, giddy everyday, waiting for you to come and talk. He looks at you and says, “Wow, I love that wonderful human of mine.” 

What about fear then? How in this world do we accomplish a life without fear? 

Fear itself is more afraid than any of us have imagined we could be. Why else would it be trying to keep us from our potential? Fear is afraid of what will happen if we step into our Higher Calling. Fear knows that if it will ever let us free, even for a moment, it will face complete destruction and annihilation. 

Strange to hear. Fear is afraid. Ha! You’d never expect it, but it’s true. 

 

“And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

-Deut. 31:8-

We can overcome fear through Christ, Jesus. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” 2 Timothy 1:7. God is more powerful than all things. He’s not the one giving us fear. He’s giving us the power to overcome it. The Lord is our light and He is our salvation. Who can we be afraid of then? God is the strength of our life. Who will we fear? (Psalms 27:1) 

 

It is time to live in victory over the fear that has haunted us for so long. Let the Fear be afraid of us because we have overcome it.

 

“Let the darkness fear.” -Rend Collective-

 

-Olivia-

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