6 World-Changing Convictions of the Church

You tend to base your decisions on one of four motivations in life: circumstances, conveniences, criticisms, or convictions. Yet only decisions that are based on your convictions will last and leave a lasting legacy.

The people who have made the greatest impact on this world, for good or bad, are those who had the deepest convictions. They weren’t necessarily the smartest people, the brightest people, the most educated, the wealthiest, or even the most famous.

If you’re going to build convictions, you need to build them on something that’s going to last. Everything changes. Fads change, fashions change. Psychology changes. Even science textbooks change. We keep learning more and more. There’s only one thing that never changes. That is the truth of God. If it was true a thousand years ago, it will be true today and it will be true a thousand years from tomorrow because truth does not change.

The Bible says this in Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (NLT).

Saddleback has been built on six biblical convictions that are all based on God’s eternal Word. I’m willing to go to the mat for all six convictions. Here they are.

1. It’s all about God.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about profit, politics, or anything else. It’s all about God. Until you understand that, life and ministry are never going to make sense. In Romans 11, the Bible says, “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory” (Romans 11:36 NLT).

What’s the implication of that?

If it’s all about God, and it’s not all about making money or being popular or anything else the world thinks is important, then the implication is that it is more important to love God than anything else. It’s my very first priority. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (NIV).

2. Only the Church will last forever.

Nothing on earth will last forever – no business, government, or nation. But the Church will.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:18: “I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (NLT).

A thousand years from today, there probably will be no United States of America. No nation lasts forever – no empire lasts forever. Where’s the Roman Empire today? Where’s the Greek Empire? A thousand years from today, there probably won’t be a Microsoft. A thousand years from today, even many of our good Christian organizations will be gone. Nothing man-made lasts. Nothing but the Church.

I’ll give my entire life to serve the Church – Saddleback and the global Body of Christ.

That matters more to me than anything else in the world. All of our staff tithe their time. That means 10 percent of our time goes to help other churches. We’re not in this just for our church. Over the years we’ve trained more than 400,000 pastors from 163 countries.

What does this conviction mean for you and me? If we’re all going to live together forever, we better get along. It’s not enough just to love God. You must love the Church – despite all of our differences. The Bible says Christ died for the Church, the whole Church, anyone who has made Jesus Lord of his or her life.

Love is more important than personal differences in the family of God. Love is more important than political differences. We need to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

3. God expects me to love everybody else too.

I don’t know if you see the pattern here, but it’s all about love. Life is not about the acquisition of things. It’s not about achievement. It’s not about popularity. It’s about learning how to love. If you miss that, you miss the lesson of life. God is love. And he says the most important thing is to love him. The second most important thing is in Mark 12: “The second most important commandment is love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NLT).

So who is our neighbor? That’s not a new question. It was asked right after Jesus said this. That’s when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. The short answer is everybody is your neighbor. There is nobody you’re allowed to not love on this earth.

That means you’re to love the unlovely, those who are different, difficult – and even dangerous. You’re supposed to love everyone.

It’s easy to love people who agree with you. It’s easy to love people who are cool. And it’s easy to love people who are safe. But God says that he wants you to take it even further. He says we’re to love even our enemies (Luke 6:35).

It’s tough to love people who are treating you poorly – or love someone who believes something totally antithetical to what the Bible teaches. But God says we’re to love even our enemies.

4. The whole world needs Jesus.

The whole Bible testifies to this, particularly the Great Commission. In it, Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 NIV). Does it say, go and make disciples of some nations? No. All nations. Does that include Syria? Yes. Does that include North Korea? Yes. Does that include Iran? Yes. No nation is off limits. As Christians, we report to a higher authority – Jesus Christ. I’m not a politician; I’m a pastor. If Iran opens the door, I’m going. There is no place I won’t go. I’d go into hell if I could bring people out with me. There is no place I would not go.

If the whole world needs Jesus, then we have to share the Good News. To keep it a secret would be criminal. If you knew the cure for a dreaded disease – like cancer or AIDS – and you didn’t share it, that would be criminal. We have something better than that. We know the cure for the human heart. We know the cure for the deepest needs of mankind. We need our past forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in heaven – we need Jesus.

You may be a pastor, yet you’ve never made this truth your own. It’ll change your life. How? First, it’ll change your priorities. You no longer live for yourself; you’re living for Jesus.

Then your perspective changes. You no longer regard people the way you used to. They’re not objects; they’re priceless souls that Jesus shed his precious blood for. They’re worthwhile and they’re valuable. I don’t care if the person is a coke smoking crack junkie in the alley, he or she is valuable to God. We must look at people not as objects but with a broken heart.

5. Everything is possible with God.

The Bible says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26 NIV). Why did we launch the P.E.A.C.E. Plan? What makes us think that Saddleback Church could lead hundreds of thousands of other churches to go after the five biggest problems on the planet? The answer is we have a big God.

Jesus also said: “According to your faith it will be done unto you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV). You know what the implication is? God’s waiting on you. God is waiting for you to trust him. God wants to use you. He wants to bless you. He wants to do amazing things in your life. He wants you to be a world changer. You just need to stop saying, “I can’t.” That’s a lie. All things are possible to him who believes God. God gets the most glory when we trust him for the impossible.

6. History’s conclusion is inevitable.

I believe this with all my heart. It’s a fait accompli. It’s done. It’s finished. There’s no doubt. I’ve read the final chapter. The Bible tells us how it’s going to end. One day, God’s going to wrap it all up here on earth and he’s going to take his children who’ve trusted him to heaven for ever and ever. In Matthew 24 the Bible says, “The Good News about God’s Kingdom will be preached in all the world to every nation, to every people group, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 ICB). It’s a certainty.

Fellow pastors, we are not trying to bring in the Kingdom here on earth. It’s not going to happen here on earth. What we are trying to do is populate the Kingdom of Heaven. We want to take all our friends and everybody else with us. We want to get people into the Kingdom of Heaven, where they’re going to be for eternity.

These six convictions of mine are behind everything we do at Saddleback and everything I say. It’s all about God’s glory. God gets glory when I love him with all my heart. He gets glory when I love you and other people in the family of God. God gets glory when I love my neighbor and the people I’m least likely to love. He gets glory when I love my enemy and when I treat them with dignity and respect even though they disrespect me. God gets glory when I share the Good News with everybody. God gets glory when I trust him with problems in my life that cannot be solved except through a miracle. And God gets glory when I know and trust that the end is inevitable and, in the end, he wins.

> Read more from Rick.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Ruth Kamau — 09/16/16 9:20 am

Thanks for that its very encouraging yeah i agree with you all we have to do should be to the glory of God

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Vision is a Dream That Can Be Implemented

It’s been said many times by many different people that everything rises or falls on leadership. I don’t think that’s ever truer than in ministry. Charles McKay, a former professor at California Baptist College, used to tell us if you want to know the temperature of your church, put the thermometer in your mouth. That’s a good statement. You can’t ever take people farther than you are yourself, spiritually or any other way.

I remember when I was interviewed on the Acts television network by Jimmy Allen, and he asked me about starting new churches. He said, “How important is location?” I said it’s very important, the second most important thing. But the most important thing is not location, but leadership in a church. I see churches in great locations that aren’t doing anything and I see churches with good leadership in poor locations doing great things.

Leadership is the key.

You don’t have to be a charismatic leader (in the emotional sense) to be a great leader. Some of the greatest charismatic leaders of this century were also the worst — Stalin, Mao, Hitler. They were all very charismatic people, so personality has nothing to do with dynamic leadership.

Leadership and vision

It’s not the charisma of the leader that matters; but the vision of the leader. Whatever your assignment may be in your church, no matter what your ministry concentration may be, your number one responsibility of leadership in that area is to continually clarify and communicate the vision of that particular ministry. You must constantly answer the question: Why are we here? If you don’t know the answer, you can’t lead.

As a senior pastor, my job is to keep us on track with the original New Testament purpose of the church. That gets much more difficult as the church grows larger and larger. When we were very small, the only people who wanted to come were non-Christians. We didn’t have a lot of programs. We didn’t have a children’s ministry or a music ministry or a youth ministry. The people who wanted all those things went to churches that had them. Now I meet people coming over from other churches every week. This new dynamic presents an acute problem. Every one of these people carries in a load of cultural baggage. They expect Saddleback to be like the church they left. The first words off their lips can be, “At our old church, we did it like this…”

How can I politely say, “We don’t care how you did it at some other church.”?  I don’t mean to be rude, but the vision of the church someone just left isn’t the key issue. Our vision in this church is the key issue. Therefore, I must continually clarify and communicate Saddleback’s vision to everyone who walks through our doors. I must make clear what we are doing and why we are doing it. No one can be left in the dark to the question of vision. At Saddleback, we constantly communicate our vision through the membership class, through social media, and in any way we possibly can. Our purpose for being is always out front where everyone can see it. Everyone needs to know why we are here and catch our vision.

Leader or manager

Vision is the main difference between leadership and management. Management consists primarily of three things: analysis, problem solving, and planning. If you go to any management course they’ll be composed of those three things. But leadership consists of vision and values and the communication of those things. If you don’t clarify the purposes as the leader, who’s going to?

Most churches are over-managed and under-led. Your church needs to be managed, but it also needs to be led. You have to have both. When you only have management in the church, you get the problem of paralysis of analysis. It’s like “Ready… Aim … Aim … Aim …” And they never fire. Management without leadership results in constantly analyzing and looking, but never actually doing anything. Don’t get me wrong. You need managers within the church as well. Without them you end up with a church that says, “Ready…. Fire!” without ever taking the time to aim. You need both.

The power of vision

Some people have dreams, but not vision. There is a difference. A vision is a pragmatic dream. Lots of people have great dreams. They have grand ideas of all they would like to accomplish, but they can never get their dreams in a concrete form where they can do something about it. A vision is a dream that can be implemented. It’s specific. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific.

Every Easter Sunday I stand back and marvel at all God has done in our church. We started on an Easter with a handful of people.  Now, every Easter we have even more than the year before as thousands upon thousands gather together. That’s incredible to me when I think how it all just started with a little vision.  And from that we’ve watched a movement happen. That’s the power of a vision.

> Read more from Rick.


Are you ready to clarify vision and direction for your organization as a leader? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Saddleback Church Models Transparency When Asking People to Give

We’re right in the middle of our Daring Faith campaign at Saddleback and lives are already being changed in amazing ways! One element of this campaign is that we’re asking people to give to some really big goals. We’ve printed a brochure helping people to clearly understand every aspect of the campaign, and one section of that brochure is designed to help people have confidence when they give.

A Church Worthy of Your Support

Any time you are asked to consider giving to an organization you should ask three questions:

1. Do they have a track record of success and effectiveness?

2. Do I trust the leadership and have they proven to be competent?

3. Will they make the best use of my gift?

With a 35-year record of effective ministry, global impact, world-wide respect, and countless changed lives, you can be certain that your gifts to Saddleback Church will produce the greatest impact for Jesus. After planting 15 campuses around the world, training over 400,000 other churches in the purpose driven strategy and sending PEACE teams to every nation in the world, it would be difficult to find a more influential church. At Saddleback, your gifts spread the Good News Around the world, feed the hungry, care for the sick, make disciples, train the next generation, plant churches, promote reconciliation, and so much more through over 500 different ministries – all through ONE organization! It’s like having a one-stop-shop for ALL the causes you care about!

Here are seven reasons to support Saddleback Church:

1. We are built on biblical purposes

From the beginning, Saddleback has never wavered from its commitment to Jesus’ Great Commandment and Great Commission:

– We celebrate God’s presence through worship.
– We connect God’s family through fellowship.
– We demonstrate God’s love through ministry.
– We educate God’s people through discipleship.
– We communicate God’s Word through evangelism.

2. We have wise and loving leadership you respect

We are fortunate to have Pastor Rick feed and lead our congregation. Time Magazine named him one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” Newsweek named him one of “15 People Who Make America Great,” and USA Today, CNN, FOX and other media outlets often refer to him as “America’s Pastor.” Pastor Rick and Kay have given their lives in service for us.

3. We have financial integrity

Both internal and independent external audits have given Saddleback a spotless 35-year record of wisely stewarding funds.

4. We have a heart for helping people who hurt

Saddleback invented the signature ministries of Celebrate Recovery, the PEACE Plan, The Daniel Plan, and many other ministries that are now replicated by other churches worldwide. Whether it is caring for those with HIV&AIDS, supporting individuals and families affected by mental illness, adopting orphans and fostering kids, offering hundreds of thousands of hours of free counseling, or feeding 100,000 needy families, this church practices faith through loving action.

5. We have next generation ministries

Saddleback’s commitment to supporting families in raising their children is seen in our deep investment in both our children’s and student ministries, which are second to none. The result is that today we have pastors on our ministerial staff who grew up through our children’s and student ministries.

6. We have daring faith and bold dreams

If you want to be part of the future, this is a church with a global vision and willingness to take giant risks in faith.

7. Your life has been changed by Saddleback!

Every weekend, over 25,000 changed lives gather for worship at one of our 15 campuses. Your gifts to Daring Faith will enable your church family to reach others with the same transforming message of Jesus that has made such a difference in your own life. Pass it on!

A little bit of transparency can go a long way when helping believers understand more about the church to which they give their tithes and offerings.

> Read more from Rick.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Current Trends in Church Space Design and Use

from an interview with Tony Morgan and Mel McGowan

You’re going to love this connection. Mel McGowan spent nearly a decade with the Walt Disney Company, he founded Visioneering Studios, a nationwide architectural and community development ministry which was awarded the 2008 Solomon Award for “Best Church Architect”. He has been named one of the top 25 cultural influencers by OC Metro magazine for his role as an “Architectural Evangelist”.

TONY: What’s a current trend that you’re seeing churches across the country begin to embrace?

MEL: I’d say that the biggest shift that I see is a move away from the paradigm of a “campus” (what I call the “Acropolis” model) to that of true community gathering place (the “Agora” model). Increasingly, both established megachurch pastors and next generation leaders are increasingly uncomfortable with the notion of a one-day-a-week, single use, internally oriented megachurch campus in which the parking lot sits empty the rest of the week. Like the ancient Acropolis, the faithful (who have made a prior commitment to “ascend” to the sacred space) are separated from the rest of the community.

The roots of the internally oriented “campus” paradigm come from monasteries and cloisters. To the outsider, this “Christian country club or compound” can seem intimidating at best and completely dissonant with the “Unchristian” perception of Jesus (as described in Gabe Lyon’s book). To the insider/Christian, it becomes to easy for this to facilitate an insular “Holy huddle” lifestyle.

With that said, some mistake the only alternative as an “anti-building” or underground house church approach. I tend to agree with my friend Chris Seay when he told me that real estate development and building can be one of the most incarnational acts that we can join God in. The trend that I see is rediscovering the role of ecclesia (Christ-centered community) as an “anchor tenant” in the heart of our cities and communities. I hesitate to use the “Third Place” term because it has been co-opted into the old campus model to mean repainting the lobby in Starbucks colors and serving coffee on Sunday morning. The real power in the term has roots in the ancient Greek agora (the predecessor to the Roman forum, Medieval piazza, and the American town square), where sacred space was always “in the mix” of where people (believers or not) “did life.”

This is what is keeping our five Visioneering Studios drinking out of God’s fire hydrant across the country is a “both/and” approach for churches that aren’t satisfied with putting up a “No Vacancy” sign at the front door of churches that are experiencing strong growth and evangelism. We believe that what this looks, tastes, and feels like should be different for each community.

  • For Austin Stone, it was a “For the City Center” (a non-profit business incubator for secular and faith-based organizations dedicated to providing renewal and redemption in Austin).
  • For Mark Batterson in Washington DC, we’re redeveloping a former glassworks and historic rowhouses on Barracks Row (the “Main Street” of Capitol Hill) into a vertical mixed-use block integrating subterranean parking, ground-level retail (a satellite of their award-winning Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse), a children’s attraction, and two performing arts/concert venues (doubling as ministry space).
  • Also in DC, near Dulles we’re converting a former Anheuser Busch distribution center (the “Bud building”) into a 70,000+ square foot “N Zone” indoor sportsplex that will also be the first permanent venue for New Life Christian Church.
  • At Saddleback’s 100+ acre campus in Southern California, we’re working on a master plan as part of Rick Warren’s “Decade of Destiny” to line parking lots and structures with a pedestrian oriented mixed use “Main Street” which will link the existing campus core to the 100% retail intersection at the church’s perimeter. This will allow the thousands of parking spaces to support the first “downtown” that the newly incorporated city of office parks, strip malls, and residential tracts has ever had.

TONY: How do you see this trend impacting the future of churches?

MEL: I tend to agree with Alan Hirsch that the “both/and” approach is generally the way to go. There was a time when the attractional “megachurch” model seemed like a generally accepted SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). I see a strong parallel with the idea of the church as a participant in authentic “Third Places” and the “Future Travelers” initiative described by Alan and Dave Ferguson in “On the Verge” in which fast-growing attractional megachurches are finding balance by integrating missional-incarnational approaches into their DNA.

In some ways, this is really less an emerging trend than the rediscovery of a “timeless truth” in that throughout the history of our species, sacred space was central to the physical space of community, from the tribal circle to temple courts to the great squares of Europe. It was really only after World War II and the rise of wrong-headed Modernist planning and zoning that cities not only forgot how to facilitate sacred/secular Third Places at their heart, but actually made them illegal by requiring separate land use zones for residential, retail, etc and making churches “beg for the forgiveness to exist” in other land use zones through the onerous Conditional Use Permit process.

I see this trend as relevant for the future of churches at all sizes. For the megachurches with large properties, a simple approach is to consider their parking “moats” as “greyfield redevelopment” potential sites in which synergistic community buildings (sports, commercial, educational, etc) can create “bridges” back to the community). For smaller churches no longer interested in fitting into the “Seeker Sensitive mega-campus mold”, we are finding that establishing themselves as a legitimate community development corporation, a non-profit arts group, or a quality gathering place (eg. Coffeehouse) opens doors to “Main Street”, in-line retail, and obsolete commercial sites opens doors to the city in the same way that the old model announced “we’ve arrived, so give us land use entitlements so that we can not pay property or sales tax, and be a ‘black hole’ in the social life of the city six days a week” closed doors.

If you are intrigued by Mel’s thinking, you may want to pick up one of his books. He is the author of Design Intervention: Revolutionizing Sacred Space (2008) and Saving Suburbia: From the Garden to the City (2009). You can also follow his Travelogue at MelMcGowan.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mel McGowan

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COMMENTS

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Mr. Todd McMichen — 11/10/12 8:53 am

Tremendous article! The future is present and pastors will be required to possess a powerful vision. The day of building a building and we will grow is gone. Vision first, be brave, don't quit, and build to propel the vision.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.