The new LiveUP logo

Harrison Mills stepped UP.  He took the step of saying, “I have gifts and skills that I can use to make a real contribution to this Tribe” and he boldly tackled the redesign of our logo.

I love this on so many levels.  He has sat and listened and taken in what has been shared.  He’s grabbed the vision.  God is clearly moving on his heart and he took the risk of saying, “Hey, maybe I can improve some things and make a contribution”.  Amen and Amen.  Bold.  Creative.  Willing to risk.  Dreamed.  In so doing, he was LivingUP.

If you want to see it … here ya go

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We’ll be redesigning the website to incorporate all of this.

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Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt became an American symbol of the “strenuous life” – one of his favorite phrases.  He believed in hard work, in pushing the body, in living on the aggressive, muscular, energetic side of life.  He worried that his generation of men were going soft and that the body would rob the mind and then the manhood of the nation.  He was right to be concerned.  We should be terrified of this today.

He didn’t start out like this.  Born into a wealthy family, he was a sickly child with severe asthma.  He was intellectual with a fierce curiosity and zeal for investigating life, but his body failed him.  Exertions brought on breathlessness which left him weak and bedridden.  Even when he paced himself, he quickly ran out of energy.  He seemed doomed to a nearly housebound life.  His father finally intervened and sat him down and said, “Theodore, you have the mind, but you have not the body, and without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should.  You must make your own body.  It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.” 

It was a turning point.  What boy wishes to disappoint his father?  What boy does not take to heart his father’s solution to a life-altering challenge?  A family member who watched the conversation later said that young Theodore, “the sorry little specimen”, looked up at his father, “threw his head back and declared he would do it”.  He devoted himself completely to the challenge.  He lifted weights, hammered away at a punching bag, swung dumbbells and spent hours grunting himself into position on the horizontal bars.  Years went by with little improvement.  Finally as a freshman in college, it started to take hold and Teddy experienced a “miraculous transformation”.  Those dreary years of exercise, hour after hour, made him into a man who knew the power of work, of will over body, and of the need for a man to live a strenuous life.

Later in life, he tragically lost his dear wife and his mother in one 24-hour period.  He was destroyed – “the light has gone out of my life” he would write.  He had a baby daughter he knew was in need a woman’s care and what he did next shocked the upper crust NY society but it completed the process of making him a heroic man.  He handed his beloved daughter to his sister, sold nearly everything he had, and moved to the Dakota territories, where for several years, he had been investing in a cattle ranch that overlooked a bend in the Missouri River.  He remained there for three years.

Why did he go?  Why such a dramatic move?  The answer seems to be that Roosevelt needed to restore and rebuild and he knew only one way to do it: return to the strenuous and the difficult.  Perhaps those hours of lifting weights and balancing on horizontal bars had surfaced forces of soul he needed to summon once again.  Perhaps a return to the arduous physical life was the only way he knew to quell the turmoil of his heart.  Obviously, he needed space, wilderness, difficult tasks, and looming danger.  He knew this was the key to healing.  He had experienced this truth in his life before.

After arriving in the Dakotas, Roosevelt did not spend three years in a comfortable chair by the fire with a brandy in one hand and a book in the other.  Instead, he became the western hero of his dreams.  He herded cattle and broke bucking horses.  He stood down grizzlies and fought off desperados.  On one occasion, he tracked down thieves for three days across 300 miles in subzero temperatures.  Once he took the criminals captive, he then traveled another six days and 150 miles to surrender them to authorities.  And the wilderness healed him.  He tamed the wilderness around him by way of taming the wilderness of his own soul.  He grieved and got through it.  He lived in the moment, in the physical, and in intimate connection with nature.  It forced him from living entirely in his thoughts to living a rooted, earthy life in which thoughts come only after work is done.

All men need what Roosevelt found – a strenuous physical life, the possibility of harm, challenges to face, enemies to oppose, land to conquer.  Our lives push us away from this.  We work in cubicles or comfortable vehicles.  Technology serves us and keeps us from exertion.  We live in opulent blandness – overfed, over-tended, over-entertained, and overly preoccupied with ourselves.  But men need aggressive, physical lives.  They need contest and conquest, strain and struggle.  Otherwise, we lose ourselves to softness and effeminacy.  It is not much of a surprise that a New Testament world that is translated effeminate from the original Greek actually means “soft through luxury”.  It is a warning. 

Roosevelt reminds us we are not disembodied spirits.  We are souls sealed into bodies.  We need to work the machinery, be alive in both body and soul.  It will awaken the masculinity in us.  It will help us untangle our inner knots.  It will remind us we are men.   (from the book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men)

What kind of man … ?

Fork in the road

Here is the question for you today… “How big are you willing to dream?  How big a life will you live?”  If you have not read last week’s blog post (Wild at Heart – Adventure 2), please do so.  Last week, we discussed the Holy Spirit as the “Wild Goose”.  He cannot be tamed and we never know where He is going. Is He safe?  No, but He is good.

We said that life without the Spirit is boring and domesticated.  Jesus didn’t die to make us safe and comfortable – He died to make us dangerous to our enemy in the battle for a lost world.  And yet, too many of us are living lives of mediocrity buried by all the responsibilities we have. Where is your passion?  Where is that excitement you once had when you were an emboldened new believer unafraid to share your faith?

Why are so many men – even in our own church – seemingly checked out?  They tell me they “hear great things about Manschool” and then say “but”.  Which is always, “but I can’t come”.  Why is that?  Really?  “I have to carpool my kids”.  OK, ask your wife if she’d rather you be at Manschool one day a week instead of taking the kids on Wednesday.  I bet she’d delight in you being at Manschool.  The men that are coming are regularly telling us, “My wife loves that I am willing to get up early to be here.  She loves that I’m in Manschool.”

It’s a choice.  What path are you going to take?

Clearly, it’s easier to sleep in.  No question.  It doesn’t risk much to stay at home.  Manschool is risky.  It is an investment of your time, energy and faith.  We’re going to push you.  Men will challenge you.  We go deep and go into areas you typically don’t hear discussed in church – frank, honest, candid discussions among our Tribe as we seek to grow closer to God.

But I digress…

The question we discussed this morning revolved around just how big our lives were going to be.  All men stand at a fork in the road and Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”.  One path is an intimate walk with God.  It is Sonship.  It is accepting that God is my Father and that He chose me before creation and that He delights in me.  It is a radical choice, a radical walk.  It is the Wild Goose and it cannot be managed.  You certainly will not be able to control it.  If the Wild Goose leads you to give up your career and your home and enter the mission field or the ministry … is any part of that “safe”?

Think of Mark 10:29 – “I tell you the truth, Jesus replied, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age and in the age to come, eternal life.  But many who are first, will be last, the last first.”

This path requires huge faith.  It is a life where we cannot control the outcome.  It is a life where your vision and your dreams are so big that God has to show up in order for it to work.  It is giving up caring what others think and embracing a radical walk with God.  All of us were created for “more”.  Way more.  But our wounds, our fear, our shame, our self-doubt they hold us back and they cause us to settle for a lesser life.

The second path is the life we can control.  It is a life where a man says, “I am only going to reach so far but I will be able to control it.  My kingdom may be small but the taxes will be paid, the checkbook always balanced, the yard – even though it is tiny – it is immaculate.  I’m not going to take risks with deep friendships, instead I’ll pretty much be an island to myself.  My kids, they’ll know me but I won’t be willing to risk much with them.  My dream for them will be that they keep the law, make the grades, get a good job and stay the heck out of trouble and in so doing, my wife’s facebook posts will always show off a nice, tidy, family who has it all together.  As for missions and ministries and all that stuff, that’s really for those guys who can’t make it in the workplace.  I’ll pay my dues, rise the corporate ladder, keep my nose clean and retire with a big 401k and a whole lot of comfort.”  

This path prizes comfort above all else.  It savors control.  It’s a small path and a very small life.  But you will dumb it down, shrink it and manage it to get it to a size you can control and once you know “life is all up to me and what I can accomplish and manage within these narrow borders” then … you will see no need for God.  Nothing in your life will depend on God because you can do it all yourself. There is no Sonship here – no need for it.  You and God, you’re kind of partners and since you’ve got it under control, He leaves you alone to do your thing.

This is a WAKE UP call men.  It is time to stand on the walls and shout and wake up the men around us.  What kind of man do you want to be?

I believe a shaking is coming.  I believe Christ Community is already being shaken.  I certainly believe America is shaking.  Birth pains are all around us.  We stand perilously close to losing our nation.  Racial tensions are everywhere and our city is divided.  Many in Columbus have no hope.  There is so much more we can do, so many more lives we can impact for the Kingdom.  It is “somebody else’s problem” until it erupts in our own backyard.  Aslan is clearly on the move.  He is looking for warriors to join him.  My question to you is simply, “How big are you willing to dream?  How big a life will you live?”

Are you going to choose the safe path of control, predictability and comfort?  Or will you choose the Wild Goose and embrace Sonship with the Father?

what will you create?

here are the slides from today  … wide awake – create  there is some good info in these slides that I won’t cover below so take a look.

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You have the ability to create.  You were created to create.  To vision.  To dream and then act.  So let’s get that out of way right up front, this is for you.  You can create.  You are a creative.  Don’t believe the lie that you aren’t.  You are.  We all are.

Gary Player is one of the best golfers in history.  But his story is much deeper than golf.  He’s an avid rancher and golf course designer.  On his South African ranch, he built steps in a mountain so he can climb the mountain.  His own, personal “stair master”.  He does 1,200 sit ups a day…with a 100 pound weight on his chest.  He’s 77 years old.  70% vegetarian and he wants to get to 85%.  He eats no bacon, no sausage, no butter.  “If you don’t watch you eat, you’ve had it. Period.”  He loves America but says obesity is going to kill the American dream if we’re not careful.  At 77 years old, he takes no medicine at all.  Not one pill.   Would you give “anything” to look/feel like Gary Player at 77?

Gary Player “created” this life.  He had this vision of what he wanted his life to become and it was so compelling that it got him up at 5am every day to hit thousands of range balls – hit so many that his hands bled.  Every day.  He had this vision for being in fantastic shape and so he was caught lifting weights before the US Open back in the 60’s.  No one understood him.  But he understood where he was going and here 50 years later, he’s a rock, a fortress of a man.

So when we say, “I’d give anything to look like Gary Player when I’m 77.”  or  “I’d give anything to have that life”.  Would I really?  Really?  McManus says this in Wide Awake…

“Greatness is not simply the result of genetics but hard work. Often, the person who has the most luck is the person who won’t quit. To live a life that takes your breath away, you have to be willing to get winded. While God created through a word, we create through work. God creates by simply speaking, we create by carefully listening. There is an inner voice that calls and compels us to create. When we know what to do, we must then act on that truth. Every great life begins at the same place – the beginning.”

To live a life that takes your breath away, you have to be willing to get winded.

If you have a dream of what your life can become, you’re going to have to work at it.  God’s just not going to hand it to you.  We need to live that dream.  Once you grasp it, once you have an idea of what you can become, it will overtake you.  It will warp you.  You will not sleep like a baby because you can’t get this dream off your mind.  It will spring you out of bed early in the morning.

And despite what you may think, you can live a life worth remembering.  It is there for all of us.  Not to draw attention to ourselves.  We shouldn’t be driven to achieving fame but rather to greatness.  Doing something in life that will effect the entire course of human history.   And just when you think, “it’s impossible for me to effect human history”, consider this … effecting one life can impact history.  You can change the course of another man’s life and that can change history.

So a few of us went on Sunday morning to work at a man’s home that had two huge oaks fall on it a few weeks ago.  They almost destroyed the house and he has no insurance. By the time we got there, Ron Lucas and others had helped him get the trees off the house and get his roof repaired but the back yard is a disaster.

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We worked for a few hours putting chain saws to what we could.  We moved tons of timber out and made good progress but as you can see, the yard is still a mess and there are two huge trees we couldn’t tackle.  He was so appreciative and thankful for the outpouring of undeserved grace.

The whole time I was working this dream compelled me to the question of “what if”?  What could we create for this man?  I visioned getting those big trees out of there by calling in some favors of a tree company.  Of getting in there and clearing out all the overgrowth.  Of building him a new fence.  Of sodding his backyard and maybe building him a patio around that outdoor fire pit his Dad built for him.  Of some flower beds.  Of fixing his front yard and taking down the dead tree there.  Of fixing his outdoor shed.  In my mind I was painting this image of creating him a new yard, of giving this man some hope so when he comes home from a hard day framing other people’s new homes, he can take a lot of pride in his home.

It’s a dream.  It is creating.  It is a bunch of us living beyond self to radically impact an undeserving soul.  It compels me.  I can’t get it out of my mind.  It needs to happen.  I believe that is just one small example of what McManus is talking about in this chapter.

So you see it doesn’t have to be inventing the next Google or becoming a millionaire.  Money has nothing to do with this.  This is ministry.  If you’re driven by the prospects of billions, it’s really all about self.  If you’re driven by something that creates good for others, then that’s something altogether different.  This last quote from McManus sums it up so well…

“God designed you to be an expression of his goodness. Every time you perform a loving act; every time you choose an act of mercy, kindness, and servanthood; every time you alleviate human suffering and bring hope and joy into a person’s life, you’ve expanded the good and increased the honor God receives for creating you in his image. God loves when his children reflect his character. What matters to God is the good we do toward others on his behalf.”

That’s how we LiveUP!

who told you that you were naked?

This morning … wow, it just blew me away.  I’ve seen this 4 times now and each time, I am taken deeper into it.  This is so vital to this journey we are on.  I wanted to get you this link so you can have access to the podcast.

Please invest the 45 minutes or so to watch this.  Let me suggest that you watch it a second time with your wife.  Let God speak into your soul…

go to http://www.mosaic.org — click on podcast/streaming, video podcast and then click on the 3/9/14 episode “The Artisan Soul, who told you you were naked”

Men, this is such a critical part of our journey.  Much like the talk on the Vine, we need to pay attention to the voices we are listening to and in reality, if we aren’t connected to the Vine, we’re going to be listening to the wrong voices.  All of us have those voices – voices of fathers who told us we are half-ass and we’d never amount to anything, voices of older brothers who knocked us down to keep us in our place, voices of past loves who broke our heart and then turned to another man, voices of a coach who told us we probably didn’t need to be on the team, voices of bosses who told us we simply didn’t have what it took to make it in business.  We’ve all got them and they do untold damage to our souls.

And so, we wander around beaten, broken, ashamed and half the man we were meant to be.  And if God could pull you aside right now, He’d simply ask, “who told you that you were naked, who have you been listening to?”

You are a masterpiece, dreamed up by God long before you were ever born.  He created you to create, He imagined you so you can image, He dreamed of you so you can then in turn dream.  So many of us no longer believe this.  But you should – it’s still there buried under the silt and damage of years of lies from the father of all lies, buried under the voices of broken, wounded people.

The prayer for you right now is this – “Lord, make me a masterpiece.  I will be a work of art and an artist at work.  I will dream great dreams and imagine a future that does not yet exist.  I will refuse to let reality limit what God can do in me.”

I won’t ramble (though I could).  I simply want you to watch this video and soak it in and then, if you will, share a comment below as to what God spoke into your soul while you were listening to this.

dig deep.  dream big.  shine.

 

Wide Awake – Discover

Wednesday morning we talked about dreaming and expanded into discovery.  I know this entire dreaming concept and even this “wide awake” is hard to grasp.  I can see it in your eyes as we go through this.  Some of you sit there and the look on your face tells me, “this dreaming stuff just isn’t for me”.  That is the problem.  That is – precisely – why we chose this book and why we are talking about dreaming, discovering, exploring, creating, etc.  It is precisely because … for so many of us … it is so hard to do.

Why is that?  Why is this notion of curiosity, discovery, dreaming, exploring so hard?

For many of us it is because we are listening to the wrong voices.  We are going to DIVE hard into that next week.  Please come next week.  This is another slight deviation we will take by the Spirit’s leading but I firmly believe next week will really minister to you.

The wrong voices.  You listen to the voices that say, “That’s a foolish pipe dream” or “You will never succeed in that” or “Your last venture failed, whatever you do, don’t risk it again.”  Perhaps you’ve been burned by love – you gave your heart and it was crushed.  You think you’ll never love again.  Perhaps you have some real pain from your father and never felt like you measured up and that voice of doubt whispers in your ear.

Whatever “it” is, so many of us have lost the capacity to discover, to dream, to explore.  But you need to know that desire is innate in you – you were born with it.  All of you.  You have incredible capacity to dream and create and discover.  Man discovers new things every day – new cures, new systems, new fertilizers, new solutions to social problems, new patterns to fix manufacturing processes, etc.  In fact, if all of us no longer had the capacity to dream/create/discover, the human species would cease to exist.

So what is it for you?  Where are you in this?  Do you believe you can still dream?   If not, does your life kind of feel like it is on a dead-end street?  What about this instead…

“I want to drink of the deep mystery and keep growing and learning and exploring and discovering.  I want to see that which was once invisible to me.  I want to begin to live that which was once unimaginable.  I don’t want a dream so small that my brain can contain it.  I want to pursue a dream so big, whispered into my soul by God, that it terrifies me. (i.e. a dream so big God HAS to show up for it to happen)”

Do you believe that is possible?  Does it compel you?  Does that statement stir something in you – some lost treasure buried under the silt of your life?  It’s there and that statement gives you just a taste, just a whisper of the life that is possible in you.

And by the way, to clarify, this isn’t some prosperity gospel.  We’re not talking about you becoming the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk though for some of you, perhaps that business visionary is there just waiting to be awakened.  But our focus is on the spiritual side of this.  I’m talking spiritually – that spiritually, you need a dream.  You need to never quit discovering, pushing, dreaming, visioning.  God is whispering a role, a ministry, a service into your life and for many of us, it is buried under the silt, buried under the voices that tell you “it will never work”.  THAT is what we are after.  We want to drown out those voices and dig into the silt to find the treasure God gave you that just now sits there awaiting your discovery of your inner purpose.  The last page of David Platt’s book Radical closes with this…

“So what happens when radical obedience to Christ becomes the new normal?  Are you willing to see?  You have a choice.  You can cling to short-term treasures that you cannot keep, or you can live for long-term treasures that you cannot lose: people coming to Christ; men, women, and children living because they now have food; unreached tribes receiving the gospel.  And the all-consuming satisfaction of knowing and experiencing Christ as the treasure above all others.

You and I have an average of 70-80 years on this earth.  During those years we are bombarded with the temporary.  Make money.  Get stuff.  Be comfortable.  Live well.  Have fun.  In the middle of it all, we get blinded to the eternal.  But it’s there.  You and I stand on the porch of eternity.  We will stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, resources, gifts and ultimately, the gospel He has entrusted to us.  When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream.  We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more TV, pursued greater retirement or been more successful in the eyes of this world.  Instead we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.

Are you ready to live this dream?  Let’s not waiver any longer.”

And let me end with this about Mark Sivak (with his permission).  I have been watching Mark and observing God doing things in his life.  We had lunch a month or so ago and I heard his story and heard the stirring in his heart.  I had tagged Mark as a key future leader of this community of men and in our discussion, he said essentially, “there are just some things I cannot do, like speaking in front of people.”  We talked about fear and about which voices he is listening to.  Mark really gravitated to the session we had on staying attached to the Vine and he dove into a season of Lent.  Last week he emailed me…

“I have been spending time during this lent season seeking The Lord.  He has talked to me a lot about how to live as a man and about manschool. I’ve been writing what he’s been saying down.  I will walk forward in whatever capacity he calls me to in manschool. We should plan on getting together to talk in the coming weeks after he releases me from this time of “solitude”.  I have unplugged almost completely for a little while, taking vacation from work, and being still before Him.”

I affirmed his time of solitude and staying attached to the Vine and encouraged him to dig deep into what God was telling him.  And I reiterated that I see him as a key leader going forward and he replied back…

“He has delivered me and will continue to deliver me to show me that He is able and my all in all.  I am grateful that I can do “nothing” on my own, because then I am drawn to The vine where I get the real nourishment.   I’m ready and joyful to step out and let The Lord use me, and to be part of the work He is doing (in manschool).  All His works are awe inspiring.  He has overcome (my) fear and I must learn to walk in faith with Him in ministry as he calls me.  He is worth more to me than my flesh or pain or humility.  I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch life go by, I don’t want to squander my talents and be driven by fear, there’s no life in it.  But we live by faith.”

Beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  The Lord has overcome Mark’s fear and he is now saying, “I will step out and go where He calls me” and “I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch life go by.”

Mark is attached to the Vine, staying attached to the Vine and he is listening.  Isn’t it sweet how the Lord has spoken truth into his heart and knocked out those voices of failure telling him, “you can’t speak in public”.  Do you see how this works?  Do you see how a great man can get beaten onto the bank and vow never to get back into the River, to no longer dream, imagine, envision, discover and create?

Whose voice are you listening to?  That is the critical question at this juncture of our journey together and next week, something special is going to happen as we dive into this.

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The world needs you to live your most heroic life.  Just look around you.  This planet is reeling and running towards disaster.  We need you to step UP.

McManus said, “We have unimaginable freedom, opportunity, wealth, resources and are probably the most leveraged culture in human history for success and yet we have runaway depression, an epidemic of suicide and an overly medicated culture.  Is it possible that we have consumed and consumed and consumed and taken all that we can for ourselves rather than to create and create and create for the good of others?”

This is a huge statement.  It is what we’ve been talking about as we LiveUP we strive to LiveOUTWARD rather than consume inward.  It is a radical thought.  When you’ve been hurt or let down or disappointed, it is so easy to turn this inward on you and “consume”.  As we think of how this makes me feel or how this hurts me or how angry it makes me, things start to spiral out of control.  The more we make it about “me”, the deeper into the muck we sink.  Thus, perhaps is a key reason, we have become a depressed society.

But turn it the other way, what if when your children hurt you and disappoint you or when the burden of this thing you must do to help a friend weighs on you — what if — what if instead of turning it inward, you LivedOUTWARD?  What if instead of focusing on self, you instead focused on the child and what she needs.  Yes, she disappointed you or made you mad but she needs you.  She needs you to love her.  Yes, the burden of meeting the need of a friend which takes away your night or your weekend can strain you but what if instead, you simply focused on what it is your friend truly needs rather than how this “puts you out”.

We have consumed, consumed and consumed and taken all we can and it leaves us empty with an even deeper void than before we started.  These things make it hard to dream.

We’re talking about dreaming and the call to your most heroic self.  We hear a lot the phrase, “If you can dream it, you can do it” and that’s simply not true.  There are things I cannot do no matter how much I dream about them.  But the converse is an undeniable truth – “If you don’t dream it, you’re not going to do it.”  We need to dream.  You need to dream.  There is something out there just waiting for you to dream it up.  Imagine.  Create.  Be able to see a world that does not exist and imagine a future yet to be created and see yourself as the person you have yet to become.

Your imagination is supposed to unleash you so can begin to pursue that life.  To dream a dream that so compels you that it demands to become your life.

What is that for you?

Or, do you find all of this seemingly impossible?  Do you sit and think, “Man, I’ve got so much junk in my life and I am just so barely hanging on that all this dreaming stuff is sort of like, ‘yeah, whatever'”

Then let me remind you of Jeremiah and his words of each of us being “A dream in the mind of God before you took your first breath.”  You, my friend, are a work of art…a Masterpiece.  You have gifts, talents, skills and abilities breathed into you by the Mighty Lord as He dreamed you up into existence.

Who are you going to believe?  The enemy who whispers in your ear, “It’s too late, you’ve got too much baggage” or, the Master of the Universe who dreamed you up as a work of art and gave His son as a ransom on your behalf?

You need to dream.  You need to sit back and let God speak into your soul.  He can dream far bigger than you ever imagined.  You need to be still, attach to the Vine and let Him feed your soul and then see what dreams He has for you.

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