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Why Good Intentions Aren’t Good Enough

By September 18, 2018October 18th, 2018Church

As a kid, you might have heard, “You are what you eat.” Well, not really – not in the sense that you are your next meal. But that next meal will influence your physiology. If you keep eating the same foods over and over, they will have an impact on your body.

Here’s the good news: At any time you are free to change what you eat.

In 2017, I made the decision to essentially become a vegetarian. Or as Jon Shaw — our Connections and Missions Pastor — likes to say, I became a hippy.

I started with the Daniel Fast and liked how I felt. Then I decided to stick with being a vegetarian. Technically, I’m an ovo-pescatarian. When I’m in Chicago eating a deep dish pizza, I’m for as much meat as possible.

I could think about eating healthier and why it’s important. I could study up on healthy diets – probably even find an app for my phone! At some point I have to buy the food and eat the food!

Here’s our big idea for this weekend: Good intentions will not move you forward. Godly thoughts combined with consistent practice will.

Our main passage is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Unlike his other letters, the Apostle Paul didn’t write Philippians in response to a crisis. Instead, it is filled with appreciation for the Philippian church. In today’s passage, he is writing about how to live a fulfilled life. It involves connecting our thoughts with our actions.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

Put another way, what you think about matters!

For Christ-followers, what we think must always be shaped by the cross of Jesus.  We think about things that are good, noble, right, pure … these are the things we allow into our heads. It’s the thoughts we choose to dwell on.

Why? Wrong thinking will always lead to wrong outcomes. Healthy thoughts will lead to healthy outcomes.

Neuroscience has taught us about the neural pathways that get created as we do things. When we do something right, a pathway is created. A pathway is also created when we do something wrong. This is how we build habits – good or bad.

What you plant with your thoughts, you will harvest later. Your mind is like soil. It will nurture whatever you plant there. How does that happen? By putting our thoughts into motion …

9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:9).

When it comes to spiritual development: practice is always better than procrastination. Martin Luther was right when he said, “How soon ‘Not now’ becomes ‘Never.’”

Good intentions aren’t bad – they’re GOOD intentions. The thoughts are good. But they need to be translated into practice.

On July 16, 1945 we tested the first atomic bomb. The energy released was equivalent to exploding 40 million pounds of dynamite. The 100-ft steel tower upon which the bomb was exploded was completely vaporized. The surface of the desert sand turned to glass.

Here’s the fascinating part: the size of the atom that started the explosion was so small that it would take one million of them lined up side-by-side to be the width of a human hair.

The small spark of a thought combined with practice can start a chain reaction that has the ability to change our lives and our world.

For the Christ-follower, knowledge should lead to action.

22 Do not merely listen [hear] to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).

Here’s a simple formula I hope you’ll jot in your notes:

Education + Motivation x Activation = Transformation

Education is about receiving godly instruction. Motivation is the reality that you must want something different. Activation happens when you put the education into practice. All of this leads to transformation – the wonderful partnership between you and the Holy Spirit.

How can you get started? Glad you asked …

  • Read something from God’s word every day … YouVersion
  • Attend our new GROW class that meets on Sunday at 9 am
  • Join a new LifeGroup and practice together.

I’m really glad that Jesus had more than just good intentions! He did more than just intend to love people – he actually loved them. He didn’t just want people to be healed – he actually healed them.

In Matthew 8, a leper approached Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

The writer tells us that Jesus reached out his hand, touched the man, and said …

  • “I am willing” – that’s intention.
  • “Be clean” – that was action.

Communion reminds us of God’s intentions towards you … he loves you. It also reminds us of his actions … Jesus died a literal death.

My sins are forgiven because Jesus had more than just good intentions.

Experience and Background

  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in management and leadership
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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