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Focus 4

The things we get distracted by are never as important as the thing we get distracted from. Andy Stanley

We are bombarded by distractions all the time.  Netflix.  Social Media.  Whatever it is, its 24/7.

However I think the greater distraction that we need to be aware of are hurts, disappointments and real life “stuff” that happens to us all.  Jesus said in this life you will have trouble but it is how we allow that trouble to affect us how can derail and distract us.

We get thrown off course by unexpected life circumstances and our goals are de-railed. We focus on our weaknesses or disappointment or challenges and we miss God’s power at work in our lives.

We never intend to get derailed, but it can happen when we take our eyes off Jesus. The enemy will do his best to drain our passion and wear us down until we drop out of the race. Here are some ways that the enemy works to draw our focus and slay our passion: Read the rest of this entry »

Focus 3

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 New International Version (NIV)

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

 

I didn’t want this message to be a cliché – but seriously, in 2020 we need clear vision.  What do you see?  What you focus on you will live out.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” – Proverbs 4:25

Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

27 Do not turn to the right or the left;  keep your foot from evil.

 

And while there are many reasons for failing to keep a resolution, one major factor is distraction.

Distractions and interruptions are coming and they don’t care about our resolutions or goals. They don’t care about our vision.  Right now, as we are sitting here read this we are being bombarded with more emails, texts, notifications, and look at me look at me look at me…

How well we handle distractions will greatly determine how successful we will be – not only in how the world defines success but in how GOD defines it!

Take a moment and think about how many hours a week you watch TV. How many minutes (or hours!) you spend each day on the phone scrolling…. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Youtube, email, phone, and so on are all weapons of mass procrastination.  It is easy to go down the rabbit hole and then wham bam an hour or three have passed!

The things we get distracted by are never as important as the thing we get distracted from. Andy Stanley

Vision 1

VISION is a picture of the future that gives passion in the present.

With God I believe there are 4 parts to vision.

  1. See the vision
  2. Grow the vision
  3. Be the vision
  4. Do the vision

 

The legendary sculptor, Michelangelo claimed that as he looked into the stone, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” His imagination had already created his masterpieces before his hands did the work.

Many people don’t jump start their lives because they don’t have anything to jump to! They plod along through life with little more than survival in mind. Visionaries dare to dream. They peer into the future and generate possibilities in their mind’s eye.

John Maxwell says : Vision is the roadmap to your destiny, the picture of your purpose. Without it, you may find yourself off course — or worse, going nowhere.

We all have limitations. Limited time, limited resources, and limited energy. We cant have it all.  Seeing the vision clearly helps us to prioritize which opportunities to bypass and which activities deserve our dedication.

The choices we make either draw us closer to our vision or push us farther away from it. If we’re unsure of the vision, then we won’t know how to make decisions that carry us in the right direction. Clear vision illuminates the path in front of us as we select which roads to travel down in life.

Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.  Too many times the routines of life begin to feel like shovelling dirt.  But take those same routines and responsibilities and view them through the lens of vision and everything looks different.  Vision brings your world into focus.  A clear vision enables you to see everything differently.  Andy Stanley

 

So we all now agree that Vision is important – its necessary!  But for some of us it can be one of those ethereal things we know we should have but we’re not sure how to actually get one.  You cant go buy one off the shelf and even reading amazing books or listening to inspiring podcasts may not help.

Now in talking about vision I’m not just talking about ministry.  Often in a church context we narrow our scope of what vision is to cool God stuff – which is cool and awesome.  But God doesn’t put vision in a box.  He wants us to have a vision for our lives and that can be ministry, or business, or the arts, or science or politics.  God doesn’t want us to limit our dreams to these 4 walls – to God there is no spiritual and secular.  Everything can be a God vision.

Firstly, vision is something you can ask God for.  He is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller.  God has a blueprint or intelligent design plan created for each and every one of our lives.  In Philippians 1:6 it says that God finishes what He starts.  He has a vision for your life and He doesn’t want it to be a secret.  He loves to share it!

Vision begins with surrender.  God I give you my life.  God I give you permission for you to lead me.  God I want to live for you.  God, here am I send me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 can sound like such a cliché but it’s a very real truth…  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

From that position of surrender God begins to stir our hearts towards “something” – and I say something because often we don’t fully know what that will look like but we can be fully assured that God will direct our paths.

When I was 16 I got saved at an easter camp and I knew right from that moment of salvation that I wanted to preach.  And even as years went by I knew that that was my vision and calling – to preach was part of my something.   As I walked with God and “grew up” that began to become more defined and clear.

There are some practical questions we can ask ourselves to help define our vision

Take some time to LOOK…

Within you: What is your passion?

Behind you: How have past lessons and experiences prepared you to pursue your passion?

Around you: What’s happening to others around you that inspire you or break your heart?

Ahead of you: What do you want to accomplish?

Above you: What part does God play in your life and dream?

Beside you: What resources are available to you?

Alongside you: Who can partner with you in this pursuit?

 

These questions might illuminate the seeds of vision God has planted within you.  Vision starts as a seed and often grows and unfolds as we step forward into it.

“In the pursuit of following Him, He brought my destiny to me. I didn’t have to chase my destiny. It came. My eyes fixed on Him, walking to Him and He aligns my steps” Kim Walker Smith

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The Power of One-Point Preaching

I got up off my knees, sat back down at my desk, and determined not to let that happen. I got rid of my alliterated points and boiled it down to one idea. Then I worked on it until I had crafted a statement upon which I could hang the entire message.

The next day, I told the story. I concluded with the idea that sometimes God will ask us to do things we don’t understand, and that the only way to understand fully is to obey. We will all look back with a sigh of relief or feel the pain of regret. Then I delivered my statement: To understand why, submit and apply. I repeated it several times. I had them repeat it. Then I closed.

When I left the platform that day, I knew I had connected. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had stumbled onto something that would shape my approach to communication.

 

 

Andy Stanley on Communication (Part 1)

Preaching on Sunday mornings is such a simple thing and by complicating it, I think we all do ourselves and the audience a disservice. It is very simple. Here is the model: Make people feel like they need an answer to a question. Then take them to God’s Word to answer the question. And tell them why it is important to do what we just talked about. And then you close by saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if everybody did that?” And that’s it. It is a journey. You take people from somewhere to somewhere.

 

Andy Stanley on Communication (Part 2)

One of the things that we talk a lot about around here is what makes for a relevant environment?

There are three things:

1) an appealing setting,

2) engaging communication, and

3) helpful information.

So the two parts that relate to the sermon are:

1) Was the presentation engaging? and

2) Was the information helpful?

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One-Point Preaching

Andy offers a basic map, or outline, summarized by the words, ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE. This map “is built around the communicator’s relationship with the audience rather than the content” (119).

  • ME and WE are about finding common ground with the audience (how the day’s topic connects with the communicator and as many people in the audience as possible).
  • The GOD section is where you talk about the text, God’s thoughts on the topic.
  • The YOU section is where the topic is applied to the audience.
  • The final WE section is for casting vision – “you paint a verbal picture of what could be and should be” (129).

 

 

Five Questions Andy Stanley Asks While Preparing a Sermon

A) What do they need to know? (Information)

  • What is the simple idea?
  • What is the one thing they need to know?
  • What one statement summarizes the message.

B) Why do they need to know it? (The motivation)

  • The key developing tension in the introduction
  • Give them a reason to listen
  • Why should they care?
  • Make them beg for the answer to their question
  • Show how society has gone wrong and give God’s answer to societies problems
  • If they aren’t convinced they need to know they will consider what you have to say irrelevant

C) What do they need to do? (Application)

  • Assign homework
  • What can we do to help them do it?

D) Why do they need to do it? (Inspiration)

  • What would it look like if everyone in our church did this?
  • How can you inspire people to act?

E) What can I do to help them remember? (Memory)

  • What can I give them?
  • Is there a memorable phrase?
  • Is there a specific image which will help people remember?
  • Write discussion questions for mid-week small groups

 

HOW ANDY STANLEY AND TIM KELLER PREACH WITH NON-BELIEVERS IN MIND

Despite all these differences, there is one thing Stanley and Keller agree on: preachers ought to be mindful of the unbelievers in their congregation.

Stanley and Keller may be worlds apart in terms of their theological vision for ministry, but they both maintain that a preacher should consider the unsaved, unchurched people in attendance.

1. The difference between preparing and not preparing is MASSIVE.
Apart from knowing the songs and learning the lyrics, setting aside time to prepare my heart before God is the most important thing – it allows the Holy Spirit to speak, puts a verse on my heart, and gives me ideas.

6. Don’t strive when you lead, but don’t step back either.
Lead with the authority that has been given to you. Yes, there is a spiritual weight to the platform, which includes the responsibility we have to lead people to Jesus, but lead confidently knowing you’ve been given the platform and entrusted by your pastors.

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Dear Kids: Why Wait till Marriage — What No One Tells You & What I Wish Someone Had Told Me – Ann Voskamp

Your skin is the outer layer of your soul.

Your skin and your soul are one in ways that Hollywood and MTV and the mall won’t ever tell you.

Your skin and your soul are profoundly connected and this is a profoundly beautiful thing. There is no shame in this —  only the glory of God who made your body art to reflect your soul.

So contrary to what hook-up culture may be touting in the back halls of high schools and behind the closed doors of university dorm rooms — there’s nothing casual about giving away your soul.

The union of two bodies is nothing less than the union of two souls.

Physical oneness is a holy God-created ceremony to express nothing less than a soul oneness.

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21 Key Learnings from Andy Stanley and the Drive Conference

1. We don’t tailor content of our services for unchurched people, but we do tailor the experience. This is such a huge and important distinction. Opening up your service to the unchurched doesn’t mean dumbing it down.

2. Nothing should offend people in your weekend services except the Gospel. Often people get turned away not because of Christ, but because of people’s bad attitudes or strange preferences for certain kinds of music or culture.

3. A parking team is not about ‘parking’ guests, it’s about welcoming them. Even if you don’t have a “parking problem”, your welcome should start when your guests pull into the parking lot. Greet them personally and help them start their experience well.

4. Everyone has an approach to their weekend services. If there is a conflict between your goal and your approach, your approach always wins. Everyone has a template for their weekend services. If your template and approach aren’t getting you to your goal, change it.

5. If you start (a message or event) with common emotions and common experiences, not everybody agrees with your point, but everybody follows you there. Brilliant.

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The Best Jobs For Every Personality Type

Does your job fit your personality?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test, measuring preferences like introversion and extroversion, has been part of business culture for decades. Today about 80% of the Fortune 500 and 89 of Fortune 100 companies use it to analyse the personalities of employees, in an effort to get them in the right roles and help them succeed.

While the list below is in no way definitive — and personality preferences can be flexible over time — it may serve as a helpful guide for understanding yourself and what sort of personalities gravitate toward certain jobs.

Best Jobs For Personality Infographic

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**** am loving this book.  so much so that i am only reading one other book at the same time.   it shows some great insight into church ministry and reaching unchurched people.  here are some of my fav take away moments.

 

“As leaders, we are never responsible for filling anyone else’s cup. Our responsibility is to empty ours.”

 

At the end of the day, it’s application that makes all the difference. Truth isn’t helpful if no one understands or remembers it.
If you want a church full of biblically educated believers, just teach what the Bible says. If you want to make a difference in your community and possibly the world, give people handles, next steps, and specific applications. Challenge them to do something. As we’ve all seen, it’s not safe to assume that people automatically know what to do with what they’ve been taught. They need specific direction. This is hard. This requires an extra step in preparation. But this is how you grow people.

 

“God often showcases his power on the stage of human weakness.”

 

“The sermon begins in the parking lot.”

 

“Purpose should determine approach.  At the end of the day, it’s what we do, not what we purposed to do, that defines our lives and reputations.”

 

  1. Practical Teaching (what I’ve called Relevant Equipping/Teaching)
  2. Private Disciplines (what I’ve called Personal Spiritual Practices)
  3. Personal Ministry (what I’ve called Taking Risks in Life or Ministry)
  4. Providential Relationships (what I’ve called Meaningful Spiritual Friendships)
  5. Pivotal Circumstances (what I’ve called Moments of Crisis)

 

Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

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Today is Day 16 in the 30 Days of Hustle and reminded us about the DIP that can sometimes happen when we’re dreaming.

you know, that moment when everything feels stagnate, including your heart.

when the going gets tough, and life interrupts.

when the shiny new thing feeling wears off.

when the results deflate your determination.

it happens when the novelty of the choices and the hustle become meh.

 

The concept is simple. Seth Godin argues that in any endeavor or goal there is a period of easy wins. He uses learning Spanish as an example. When you first start studying, it’s fun to pick up those initial words and you feel like you made some progress. But after this rise in your ability, you hit what he calls the Dip, a time when things get hard.

This is the valley of any adventure where most people quit. This is conjugating verbs or the 7 days in a row when the scale doesn’t move an inch. This is the Dip. And I would suggest that depending on what you are trying to do, it can start happening as early as day 16. So if you are in the Dip or will hit it soon, here are three things I think you should do:

1.    Admit it. Sometimes, just giving yourself permission to acknowledge that’s where you’re at is very freeing.
2.    Reconnect with your WHY. Remember that from day 2? Studies have shown that if we’ll reconnect with our WHY during difficult times it actually helps us get through them.
3.    Tell your WHO. Don’t go it alone. Tell the person who is holding you accountable what is going on.

The Dip isn’t fun, but it’s often where a lot of growth is hidden.

Jon Acuff

 

Dip happens.

it happened for me when i woke up at 2am on friday morning, knowing that the alarm was going off at ten past six regardless of how well i slept.

when the numbers stayed the same despite no soda and no sweets for 16 days.  16 DAYS peoples!

surely there must be a movement, a reflection of the effort and intention.

 

My WHY is so that i can feel more energetic, master nasty habits, be a better wife / mother / leader, be happier in my own skin.  its about going the distance and increasing capacity for every area of my life.  its about stepping out of the boat and living the dream.  its about living for health and strength.

My WHY reminds me of the core of my motivation, it is the prize i aim for.  Its the reason i can say no, because i’m saying YES to something greater.

 

 

When your dream takes a dip you’ve got to reconnect with your WHY and renew your motivation and purpose.    Its about finding new ways to reenergise your passion.  sometimes its about just doing it, even when  you don’t feel like it.

 

i like what Andy Stanley said in a recent YOUR MOVE podcast – I am doing a great work and i cannot come down.  its a quote from Nehemiah 6 when circumstances and people and negativity try to put a dip in Nehemiah’s dream.  Nehemiah keeps his eyes firmly on his WHY and HOW and resists the dip.  He is doing a great work and will not be discouraged or distracted.

 

I am doing a great work.  I will not come down.  I will not let the dip deter me or determine my destination.

 

 

What do you do to keep motivated when you hit the dip in pursuing your dream?

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“i am doing a great work and can not come down” Nehemiah 6:3

Nehemiah was in charge of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His enemies had tried many methods to stop the work and then they realised that it all hinged on Nehemiah and invited him to the valley of “Oh No” to assassinate him.

Nehemiah responded with “I am doing a great thing and I can’t come down”

In our lives the message is: Don’t be distracted, don’t come off the wall.

You are doing a great work and can not come down.

If Nehemiah had come off the wall he would of been killed. If we don’t give attention to the wall in our lives then it could destroy us.  You have no idea of the result of your building, of being focused, of doing the great work and not coming down.  In your families, in your church, in your ministry, in your school and workplace.  in your life.  You are doing a great thing.

God is doing a great thing through you.  You are positioned by God in your life for such a time as this.  you are called to know God and make Him known.  To demonstrate the reality of His love and grace.

Coming down can compromise and halt the great work of God in your life.

What is calling you down off the wall?

What is distracting you from the great thing?

What strategies is the enemy using to pull you away from your purpose?

Mend the breaches.
Invest in the priorities.
Build the wall.

I am doing a great work and i cannot come down.

Lean into God’s will for your life and build the wall.

Don’t give time to things that destroy your focus.

“i am doing a great work and can not come down” Nehemiah 6:3

Check out the message by Andy Stanley here: <<Watch the series of videos>>

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Now the universe is built on laws. Men of science throughout history have known that everything in our universe is under the reign of law. The entire world of physical science is dominated by laws. Whether you’re talking about everything from astronomy and agronomy and biology and botany clear to the end of the alphabet and zoology, all of those areas of study are absolutely predictable, because the universe is built on absolute physical laws.

If you are driving down a road at 100km hr and get to a corner that says 45km hour – chances are pretty high that you’re going end up getting hurt because the law of physics is in operation. Even if you have a Christian radio station on. And a Christian bumper sticker. The laws of physics apply to you regardless of your salvation status.

I the same way the laws of life and living apply to us.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:7-9

 

Direction determines destination. Every time.

We have to connect the dots between the choices they make and the outcomes they experience.

Are there discrepancies between what you desire in your heart and what you are doing with your life?

Direction is everything.  Direction determines destination.  That is why we cannot afford to live disconnected lives. When we discover those subtle and sometimes not so subtle discrepancies between intent and lifestyle we should stop and pay attention. 

We should break the habit of drawing a circle around individual decisions and events and dismissing them as isolated occurrences.  These are steps.  Steps that lead somewhere.  Because life is connected.

The principal of the path is operating in your life every minute of every day.  You are currently on a financial path of some kind, you are on a relational path, you are continuing down a moral and ethical path.  And each of these paths has a destination.  My hope is that by becoming aware of this powerful principal you will have the wisdom to know which path to choose and the courage to stay the course.

The challenging aspect about picking the right paths is that the choices are NOW.  The outcomes are LATER.  The decisions you make today have ramifications down the road.

Andy Stanley

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

In what ways should we acknowledging God?

What does that look like in real life?

What does it look like to NOT acknowledge God?

What is the consequence of acknowledging God?

How can we connect the dots between where we are today and where we are going tomorrow?

 

Define Vision:

Vision means: “a clear sense of purpose regarding what God wants to do through your life”

How does vision affect your life?

What does the bible say about having vision?

How do we get vision and purpose?

What is one thing you can do this week to step towards that?

 

Are we exchanging a bowl of stew for things of eternal worth – like esau? (Genesis 25)

 

Behavioural therapists and others who study human behaviour will tell you there’s only one difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. “It’s all about their habits,” they say.

1. They reveal what you value least—and most.

2. They reveal where you spend your time.

3. They reveal the state of your mental health.

4. They reveal the state of your spiritual health.

5. They reveal the state of your physical health.

 

1. They reveal what you value least—and most.

A habit as simple as arriving late or constantly procrastinating can show what you rank at the bottom of your scale of priorities—and also what you rank at the top. What do you hold as important and unimportant in this life? Just take a look at your habits. They will speak for themselves—and most likely, they will speak to others as well.

If you have a habit of working hard, helping others or always being on time to work, it shows that you see a great deal of value in your future, your character and your work ethic. Likewise, if you are perpetually late, interrupt times with friends because you always answer your phone or commit initially only to back out late, it will be clear to the people around you what comes first in your life—and what doesn’t.

2. They reveal where you spend your time.

Habits don’t just happen overnight. If a habit takes 30 days to form, then those 30 days will tell you a lot about your commitments. Are you cutting down on your Starbucks habit so that you can read Scripture in the morning before work? Or are you routinely hitting snooze and falling off your exercise program 10 days in? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and have to make choices about we’re using our time. We make trade-offs based on what we deem most important at the time—for better or for worse.

3. They reveal the state of your mental health.

OUR HABITS ARE SHAPED BY EITHER A SELF-DISCIPLINED WILL, OR A POWERFUL FELT NEED—AND THE LATTER CAN OFTEN PULL US INTO HABITUAL SIN.

Some habits are internal, more than external. They live in our thought processes, our attitudes and our outlook. And if these mental habits go unchecked, it can cause us to live in a state of mental compression because our habits are living our lives for us. But the truth is, mental health is the beginning of all habitual health problems. If a habit, such as envy, lust, comparison, discontent, takes root in your mind, that mental habit is eventually going to be given the reins to the rest of your health if not taken care of.

4. They reveal the state of your spiritual health.

Your habits play a massive role in your sinful nature. Our habits are shaped by either a self-disciplined will, or a powerful felt need—and the latter can often pull us into habitual sin. If you really think about it, most sin is derived from a habit that has been formed over an extensive period of time, and then exposes itself when that habit yearns to be activated. On the other hand, forming habits of prayer and worship can also create virtuous habits that can counteract the destructive pull toward sin.

5. They reveal the state of your physical health.

We’re a society of busy people—and there’s a multitude of fast food, drive-thru options just for our convenience.

Look at your food and exercise habits: do you make late-night taco runs, put off your gym membership renewal, lounge around playing video games all weekend? Or do you make it a point to work out three times a week, floss your teeth daily, fill your cart with produce? Your habits will tell you a thing or two about your physical health.

It’s easy to go about our days as usual—with our habits and routines fixed in place without a thought. But if we do evaluate our default patterns, we might learn what we’re doing well and where we have room for improvement. And in 30 days, we might even be able to turn ourselves around.

 

 

What habits and behaviours are you trying to establish or change?

What attitudes do we need to have?

How do you determine / classify if you have a good attitude or wrong attitude? What is the bench mark? How do we find out?

 

 

How do we CHANGE our attitudes?

  1. Romans 12:2 RENEW YOUR MIND

– read the Word of God, read His promises

– act on the Word of God – resist own thoughts/attitudes and CHANGE the way you think and behave

– Neurological Change happens when we renew our mind – we make new neuro pathways

  1. Get a big person who can see a bigger perspective – meet with a mentor – be honest about attitudes and things and allow them to speak into your life

 

 

How do you define and weigh success and failure, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable, in any particular situation?

Are you satisfied with where you are now?

What do you think some of the obstacles to getting to the destination?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPW3EB5U0bo

 

**** notes from the best housegroup in the world last night

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“The problem [in that] is, all they had was chemistry. They didn’t know very much about relationships because they thought, ‘If I meet the right person, I don’t have to be good at relationships. They’re going to be good at relationships, that’s why they’re the right person.’ So they get together, get married, and then they have problems. Guess what kinds of problems they have? They have relationships problems, not chemistry problems. And they didn’t do anything to prepare for the relationship. They just thought love will keep us alive.”

“In children’s stories, if you can just get [the prince and the princess] together, the rest takes care of itself. Some of you are dating, and some of you are approaching relationships thinking like a child, reasoning like a child, talking like a child. And it’s time for you to put the ways of childhood behind and [realize] this isn’t about magically finding the right person – that’s fantasy … it’s not reality.”

~ Andy Stanley

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