December 23 – Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled – Fulfilled Prophecy

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The Promise Fulfilled

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Read Genesis 3:15, Habakkuk 3:13, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1 and Micah 5:2

Fulfilled Prophecy 

A promise was made long ago, revealed through the prophets and dating back to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. 

A Savior would be born. He’d be born to repair the damage that mankind inflicted on himself because of the sin that entered into the world through Adam and Eve. He’d be born to be the only way of salvation!

The Prophets foretold that His name would be Emanuel “God With Us”, and He’d be born in a small almost obscure town named Bethlehem. The Messiah of the world was to come to us born of a virgin to save mankind from its sin and separation from God. The Messiah was God’s own Son. Long before all these things would take place God said they would happen; revealed to us and all creation that our God would be with us. God always shows Himself faithful as His Word is true and comes to life in a very real fashion. Just as He spoke light into the darkness and it happened, He spoke to the hearts of the prophets through His Holy Word to begin to reveal the plan He had in place. 

We know that roughly two thousand years ago God’s One and Only Son was sent to us fulfilling the promises that the prophecy of the Old Testament stated would take place. He was born in Bethlehem of a virgin named Mary. 

Our God is with us!

As we enter the Christmas season we should have a sense of awe and reverence in how God fulfilled everything according to His Word. He keeps His Word!

My Prayer is that we’ll continue to be in awe of these incredible truths and that we’ll instill the truths of God’s revelation to our family, friends, or whomever God so chooses to place in our path. Especially during Christmas time!

When we celebrate His birth may we all share the true meaning behind what the world considers as just another holiday. May the truth revealed in prophecy be communicated and known through us.

Praise God for revealing Himself and that we can have the true honor and privilege of worshiping Jesus and celebrate His entrance into the world during Christmas. Let us all have a true “Birthday” celebration for our Savior this year and every year for the Lord our God fulfilled His promise through His Son Jesus Christ. 

Questions To Get Started With: 

  • What do the scriptures I just read teach me regarding how Christ’s birth fulfilled the Old Testament Prophecies? 
  • How do God’s Fulfilled Promises build my faith in the trustworthiness of scripture?
  • How do these truths change my understanding and perspective on celebrating Christmas?
  • What can I do the share the true meaning of Christmas this year?

December 16 – Family Christmas – Family Feud

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Family Feud 

By Danny Saavedra

“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy . . .” – Genesis 44:33 (NIV)

The Bible is full of stories of authentic people. God didn’t shy away from showing our “heroes” of faith in their darkest hours. Why? So we can see people with real shortcomings and struggles; people like us.

One great example is found in Israel’s family. In this story, we see Joseph—loved by his father and hated by his brothers—sold into slavery. That’s right, because his brothers were so jealous and filled with malice, they lied about Joseph’s death after selling him as a slave. 

But what happened? Joseph prospered! He went from son to slave to prisoner to steward to ultimately the prime minister of Egypt. Why? Because he honored and served the Lord. 

Joseph became top dog in Egypt, helping people through a prolonged famine. Eventually, he gets a visit from his brothers—except for Benjamin, the youngest. They came because the famine had reached them, and they heard about the surplus in Egypt. Though Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him, so he pretended to be a stranger. Testing them so he could see if they had changed, he tells his brothers they can’t leave Egypt unless they bring their youngest brother there. So, he kept one of his brothers and sent the rest to get Benjamin. 

They went back to their father, but Israel refused to let Benjamin go. Knowing his family’s need and repentant from what they’d done to Joseph, Judah said, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.” (Genesis 43:8–9 NIV). With that, Israel finally agrees.

They brought him to Joseph. Before they left, Joseph had his steward put a silver cup into Benjamin’s bag to make it seem as though he’d stolen it. This was their final test. When he decreed that only Benjamin would have to stay as his servant, Judah offered to take his brother’s place in prison. Judah’s actions paint a picture of what was to come through his descendant, Jesus, who came to pay a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay! 

This selfless act also had a major impact on Joseph. Hearing Judah’s compassion and willingness to take his brother’s place, Joseph could no longer contain himself and reveals himself to his brothers. In Genesis 45:5 (NIV), he says, “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” At last, after several years, we see a family reunited. 

The Christmas season marks the perfect time for reconciliation. You see, Jesus came to reconcile us to God, to bring forgiveness and restoration. And the story of Israel’s children shows us that it’s never too late for reconciliation and forgiveness, for healing in our lives and in our families. Are there broken relationships in your life? Maybe old friends, siblings, or a parent? Just like he did for Joseph and his brothers, God can do the same for you. All you have to do is take the first step!

December 15 – Family Christmas – The Runner & the Wrestler

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Read Genesis 32:24-25

The Runner and the Wrestler 

By Danny Saavedra

“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him . . . He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint . . .” – Genesis 32:24–25 (NKJV)

It would be an understatement to say that there are some interesting and eccentric characters in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. And among this amazingly diverse group, Jacob definitely sticks out. 

From his heel-catching birth to getting his brother’s inheritance for some stew; from the hair-brained scheme he hatched to trick his almost-blind father into blessing him to his soap opera-style romantic saga over Rachel, Jacob had some stories to tell. If ever there were a person in Jesus’ family tree with some wild stories—the kind of stories so insane they’d have to be true—it would be Jacob.

Now, one of the things you’ll notice as you read through the many exploits of Jacob is that he was a runner. After stealing his brother Esau’s inheritance, he ran. When he wanted to get out from under his uncle Laban’s control, he ran. His default in difficult times was to run, because at heart, Jacob leaned on his own abilities in life. Even though he knew God, believed in Him, and listened when He spoke, he relied more on himself than on God.

After running away from Laban and being commanded by God to return to the land of his fathers, he sent a messenger with gifts to his brother Esau. Genesis 32:6–7 (NLT) says, “After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, ‘We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!’ Jacob was terrified at the news.” 

So, what do you think he did? You guessed it. He got ready to run again. While his brother Esau was on the verge of tracking him down, Jacob ended up alone in his camp wrestling with a man—only it wasn’t a man, it was actually God! He wrestled with Jacob in order to transform him, to bring him to a place of submission, and so God knocked his hip out of its socket. 

Why in the world would God do a thing like that? Remember what Jacob did when things got tough? He ran because he leaned on himself. But now, with a hip out of joint, Jacob could no longer run or lean on his own power. From this point forward, he would have to lean on God. His hip was a constant reminder of that!

And to drive the point home even further, the Lord gives Jacob a new name, Israel, which means “governed by God.” The days of running and relying on himself were over. For Israel, the time for standing in faith had finally come, just as it had for his fathers before him.

Like Israel, God also wants us to be governed by Him. When the Prince of Peace left His heavenly throne and became a man, He gave us the perfect example of how to live governed by God. We need to lean into Him and allow Him to lead and direct us (John 5:30; 8:27–28; Luke 22:43–44). 

Today, as believers, we can rejoice because we have the Holy Spirit of God within us to convict us and wrestle us back into a place of submission when we try to revert back to our Jacob-like ways. Spend some time today praying, asking the Lord to reveal any areas where you need to submit.

December 14 – Family Christmas – The Sacrificial Son

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Read Genesis 22:8

The Sacrificial Son

By Danny Saavedra

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” – Genesis 22:8 (NIV)

Have you ever been asked to do something completely out of the ordinary; something seemingly insane . . . something you never thought you’d have to do? If you have, you’re not alone. In Genesis 22, God gave a strange command to Abraham. 

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Wait, what? You mean the son of promise? The son of his old age? The one from whom a great nation would be built? Yes, that one. God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:2 NIV). 

There is no doubt that this must have been a heart-wrenching, indescribably painful thing for Abraham. Can you imagine being asked to sacrifice what you hold nearest and dearest? Would you be obedient like Noah or run in the opposite direction like Jonah? Think about how unreasonable and insane God’s request sounded. Isaac was Abraham’s beloved son; the future of God’s covenant rested on him. Isaac was a miracle, God’s gift in response to the faith of Abraham and Sarah. 

But Abraham heard God and immediately obeyed Him in faith. Sometimes in our lives, we’ll be faced with having to make what seems to be an impossible, difficult choice—a choice we may not understand. But when we understand the character of God and His desire to bless and fill us, we can faithfully obey Him. 

You see, Abraham knew that God’s will would never contradict His promise, so this faithful father held on to the promise, which said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called” (Genesis 21:12 NKJV). Abraham believed that even if God allowed him to sacrifice his son, that He could raise Isaac from the dead. In this we see the true nature of faith. It doesn’t demand explanations; it rests on promises. That’s why Abraham was able to say to his servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you,” and why he was able to tell his son, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:5, 8 NIV).

Now, something that often gets lost in this story is Isaac’s faith and obedience. So often, when we picture this story, we imagine Isaac as a young child. But most biblical scholars believe he was between 18 and 33 years old—after all, he had to be big and strong enough to carry all the wood for the burnt offering. 

Isaac’s story gives us an amazing parallel to God’s plan for redemption through Jesus. It’s widely accepted that Isaac knew what was happening. He carried the wood of his own sacrifice and remained silent as he was being placed on the altar. He didn’t protest when Abraham raised the knife. Instead, he willingly gave himself up to his father . . . just like Jesus! Clement of Alexandria wrote, “He (Jesus) is Isaac . . . for he was the son of Abraham as Christ the Son of God and a sacrifice as the Lord.” 

In the end, God stopped Abraham’s hand and provided another sacrifice. So Abraham named that mountain “The Lord Will Provide.” Through the birth of Jesus, Christmas signifies the epic moment where God provided for all mankind. Today, as we get closer to Christmas, find time to reflect on all those moments in life when you didn’t have the answers, but God provided.

December 12 – Family Christmas -The Ark of Our Salvation

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Read Genesis 7:1

The Ark of Our Salvation

By Danny Saavedra

Something significant tends to get overlooked when it comes to Noah’s narrative. Usually, the focus is on the great flood that engulfed the entire planet or on the wickedness of humanity that led to it. But the thing that should stick out above those is the thing that kept Noah and his family safe from the waters: obedience. 

In Genesis 6:9 (NIV), it says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” Amongst a wicked generation, Noah was righteous. But what was it that made him righteous? His works? His behavior? To borrow from the apostle Paul, certainly not! Hebrews 11:7 (NIV) tells us that Noah was a man of faith! In fact, we’re told that Noah “became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” His faith in God was his righteousness and it was also what allowed him to be a man of obedience.

Today’s verse tells us: “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.’” Just a few verses later (verses 4-5) it says, “’For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.’ And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him.”

When God spoke, Noah listened. He didn’t waver. He didn’t question God. He didn’t doubt. He believed, trusted, and obeyed God. Noah built the ark as he was commanded. He filled it with the animals and got in before it even started to rain. Mind you, the ark had no wheel or rudder to steer it, only one overhead “window” to provide light, and only one door, which was sealed by God Himself. What does that tell you? It says that God was in complete control and that Noah and his family had no control over their destinies. That’s faith, folks!

Now, let’s talk about that door for a minute. Noah and his family walked in through the door of the ark and they were saved from God’s righteous judgment and wrath. In John 10:9 (NASB), Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved . . .” Just like the door of the ark, Jesus Christ is the only door to salvation, the only path to peace, and the only road to heaven.

Believe it or not, the story of Christmas is a lot like the story of Noah and the ark. When God sent Jesus—the Ark of our salvation—into the world, He opened the door to eternal life. And as we enter the Ark (Matthew 11:28), we are spared from His righteous judgment (Romans 5:9). 

In one of the most amazing sermons ever preached about Jesus, the apostle Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NIV). Have you heard His call and entered into the Ark of salvation? If not, it’s never too late! The door is open. All you need to do is walk through it. And when you do, you’ll see that a whole new world is waiting for you on the other side.

December 11 – Family Christmas – The First Family

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Read Genesis 1:27

The First Family

By Danny Saavedra

The first two people on earth, Adam and Eve, were the crowning jewel of God’s “good” creation, made in His image. They were the first family. But why did God create Adam, and by extension, all of us? What was the purpose for the creation of mankind? It’s a question we have all, at one time or another, wrestled with. “Why am I here?” 

The Bible provides some answers to this all-important question! Isaiah 43:7 tells us the first reason we were created is to glorify God. C.S. Lewis wrote, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” And that’s the second reason why we were created—so we can enjoy God forever. Psalm 16:11 says that in the presence of God there is fullness of joy. Think of it like filling up on your favorite meal, the kind that truly satisfies. 

Before Jesus came, no one had ever experienced the purpose they were created for more than Adam and Eve! Think about it: They walked with God, talked with God, and enjoyed His presence. They got to live their calling and enjoy the fruits of the Garden (Genesis 2:15–16). 

And then came the fall—the first and worst family crisis. Adam and Eve allowed their pride and selfish impulses—their desire to be “like God”—to cloud their judgment. And because they allowed themselves to be deceived by the serpent, they, and all of us, fell from grace. The worst part is that the very thing they were seeking, to be like God, they already had. They bore His image and likeness and His imprint was on their heart and soul. 

And it was in this, the most tragic moment of human history, where we see the first step of God’s masterful plan of salvation revealed. Although they sinned and were judged, God promised that this wouldn’t be the end of the line. With the coming of death, there came the promise of life. In Genesis 3, God explains how it will all go down: Women will experience pain and labor as they bring new life into the world . . . but new life will come. Men will have toil and sweat in order to live, but they will live.

And then, in Genesis 3:21 (NLT), God gives us a preview of how He is going to fulfill this promise. It says, “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” You see, in order for God to clothe Adam and Eve and take away their shame, He had to kill an animal, to shed its blood. Why did He need to do that? Because the cost of our sin and shame is death “and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). 

The story of Christmas is the moment when God’s promise of life became reality. How? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

Jesus came to take away our sins, to restore us to the purpose for which we were created. Because of Jesus, we can glorify and enjoy God even more intimately than Adam and Eve ever could. We not only get to walk with God, but we have the Spirit of God within us!

October 21 – I Will Remember: Two-Way Communication

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Read Habakkuk 2:1-20, Genesis 32:22-32

A quick glance at the Old Testament prophets tells us that although each played a critical role in speaking truth to God’s people—often prior to or during times of tragedy and crisis—prophets had hard lives. Most were the target of persecution and attack. They were sometimes beaten, imprisoned, and mocked. 

However, each also possessed a quality which we can demonstrate during times of personal or global crisis—open communication. Habbukuk, the 7th-century prophet who prophesied an imminent Chaldean invasion to the people of Judah, is a fascinating example of what it looks like to communicate openly with God during times of uncertainty and fear. 

Meaning “embracer,” his very name foretells what we will see as we read through the three chapters of Habbakuk. It’s a back-and-forth conversation which goes something like this: Habbakuk cries out to God for help and God responds with reminders of what he is doing. 

In one moving verse, Habbakuk exclaims, “I will take my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me” (2:1). Can you just imagine? It’s the picture of stubbornness—of complete trust that God will answer and that Habbakuk will wait as long as necessary to receive that answer. Only a few verses later, the Lord does respond; but in his response, he tells Habbukuk that his answer will not come now: “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (2:3). 

Perhaps this conjures up images of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32 and his cry that “I won’t let you go unless you bless me” (v. 26). In times of difficulty, we keep pressing forward with God. We believe and trust that the more we press into him, the more he will offer back to us. 

Crisis reveals a communication channel that is two-way. We cry out to God, and he responds. We wait upon God, and he answers. It’s time to sit on our watchposts and see what God is trying to say to us. 

Questions for Reflection

Cry out to God. And then wait. Believe he will answer. And be in awe of his response. 

How can we speak the truth to those around us that communication with God can be a two-way street?

July 4 – Back to the Basics – Creation

Read Genesis 1:1 and Colossians 1:16

“In the beginning, God created…”

When sharing the Gospel message to the unbeliever, this is the beginning!  We so often overlook this important truth when discussing the Gospel, but did you know that this is often the truth claim that presents the biggest hurdle for believers and non-believers alike?  It’s important to focus on this truth, because without establishing God as Creator, the rest of the Gospel message just sounds like a nice idea, or a good story.             

The claim that God created everything explicitly states that He created it.  All of it. By Himself. More quietly, though, it implicitly states several other things.  I pray that by considering these out-workings of Creation, you are drawn to conviction and praise of God the Creator!  

First, if He created it, He owns it! God owns his Creation.  And after reading Colossians 1:16, there should be no doubt about how much of our physical world He is responsible for! God is the rightful owner of it all, which grants Him dominion over it!  Dominion means “ruling or controlling power”, which means He makes the rules, and all perfect understanding can be found in Him!  His dominion is the reason for the moral certainty of Christianity.  The scientific laws that govern our physical universe and the moral laws that are universally accepted in our society can be known and trusted because God is Creator!

Secondly, if He created it, it is good!  We know this because God is good (goodness), and God doesn’t change (immutable).  This means that God doesn’t stop being good for a moment in order to do something dastardly. If God is good, then there must be some other reason for things that we perceive in God’s Creation as not good. 

Lastly, if He created it, it ultimately answers to Him! This is perhaps the most difficult thing for sinners to accept.  The Bible says that ‘even the rocks cry out to Him’… how much more then should we?  If God created it, He owns it, we know that it is good, and we are compelled to accept His Lordship over all that makes up our lives.  For sinful hearts that yearn for self-control and self-determination, this can be difficult. 

As you ponder God’s creation, let us pray and consider the aspects of Creation that affect the Gospel; the bigger story about God loving us so much that He pursues us even to the death and crucifixion of His Son.  Science, culture, and even well-intentioned Christians debate methods, time frames, and specifics of Creation that are awesome things to ponder, and make for super interesting reading.  When boiled down, however, the ultimate implication of God as Creator is that He owns it, He is Lord over it all, and it is Good! 

When we see this truth properly, we can submit to Him with full confidence in our salvation.  Spend some time marveling at God’s Creation, and thanking Him for the complex beauty that makes up our world. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Craig French

May 10 – What Does the Bible Say About Marriage/Co-habitating?

Read Genesis 2:18-25

What does the Bible say about marriage?

Wow! It says quite a bit…and these 400 words are supposed to summarize all of that? Well, we certainly won’t address every detail, but let’s bullet point a few of the biggest takeaways. Whether you are married, single and wishing you were married, or have influence in the lives of others fitting into the above two categories, God’s word provides some important insights. Here we go!

Not everyone should marry! That may seem like an unusual place to start, but it is important to understand. Both Paul and Jesus point out that single life can be leveraged for the sake of singular focus of service for God and His kingdom (Matt. 19:11, 12; 1 Cor. 7:8, 9, 25-38). If you feel like you are missing out on something because you are not married or in a romantic relationship, you may actually be uniquely positioned to serve God and others.

Marriage involves a man and a woman! The Lord created men and women as beings with gender defined by anatomy. Beyond telling the story of the first marriage in this passage, Moses also draws out a principle for all time. Within marriage, a man and a woman leave and cleave (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5).

Marriage is the context for sexual expression! Indeed, God created men and women as individuals capable of sexual intimacy. But the One who created this intimacy also defined the context for its expression. The appropriate context is in a marriage relationship between a husband and a wife (1 Cor. 6:12-7:5).

Marriage requires love and respect! Both Paul and Peter outline the importance of those qualities for the marriage relationship. Just as in the relationship between Christ and the church, husbands are to love unconditionally and sacrificially. Wives are to demonstrate respect (Eph. 5:21-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).

Marriage was intended for a lifetime! That is part of the “one flesh” relationship. As we have often heard repeated in marriage ceremonies, “What God has joined together, let no one separate!” Divorce was never intended as an option for people. In fact, it is often a reflection of hardened hearts (Matt. 19:1-12).

The Bible makes some bold statements that define God’s intentions for marriage the way He designed it. There is blessing in pursuing His design!

Steve Kern

April 30 – Say What Now? – “Leave your Country, Family and Land and I’ll Give You a Nation, Name and Blessing”

Read Genesis 12:1-5

Abraham’s story is one of my favorites, maybe because of the trust exchange between Abraham and God. 

I’m so glad I’ve been re-reading Abraham’s story recently. 

As most know, Jake and I are expecting a baby girl, Emma, due in October. Trusting the Lord to try again after losing our baby last August was harder than I thought it would be. A good friend would ask me, “Are you scared? Are you ready?” I would always answer “Yes!” and “Yes!” I think it was because of the trust I have in Jesus. 

Knowing and believing the Kingdom perspective and knowing that Jesus changes everything helps my journey to sustain my trust in the Lord. Jake and I believe in a loving God who only has the best in mind for us, our family and our children. He is a God who loves us more than we will ever know. 

However, it is not always easy to trust. 

If you read Abraham’s story and think “he must be a super spiritual guy to be able to trust the Lord with all He asked Abraham to do”, the answer is no. Abraham was a normal guy just like you and me. He knew the Lord, He knew the power that God processed and He trusted Him because of his personal relationship with God. 

I think the difference between those who trust the Lord and those who do not is the question, “How well do you know God?”. 

Knowledge doesn’t equal intimacy and lack of intimacy equals lack of trust. 

I compare this to our closest relationship. For me, this is Jake. I don’t trust him just because I know about him, I trust him because I know him. I know him better than most. I see things most do not and vice versa. There is a trust exchange much like between Abraham and the Lord. 

When you look at your life, can you say that you fully and intimately know the Lord? In that intimacy with Jesus comes the trust exchange.

Do you have that? 

Charles Swindoll’s book “So You Want to Be Like Christ” dives into the notion that knowledge does not equal intimacy. He says in chapter three while focusing on slowing our pace through silence and solitude that “If you refuse to be still, if you do not seek times for silence and solitude, you may gain some knowledge about God without knowing Him at all”.

Abraham knew the Lord intimately and, therefore, the depth of trust was built. Asking Abraham to leave his home may have been scary and filled with uncertainty, but it was nothing compared to knowing and trusting his Lord and following after Him. 

Where are you? Are you filled with a depth of intimacy that allows for a trust exchange to grow or are you focused on knowledge and pride of pedigree?

As you read through Abraham’s story, put yourself in his shoes and see what your choice would be.

Kelly Lawson