The Deception Of Good Intentions

Have you seen this video? It's pretty funny. I don't know if they're acting or not, but it does represent the art of deception. We've all been bamboozled by a magic trick. We know it's not really magic but we can't figure out what's going on. From one point of view, it seems like magic and from another, it's obviously not.

One of the great barriers to accomplishment is the deception of good intentions. You may be wondering, "what's wrong with having good intentions?" Nothing is wrong with good intentions in themselves, but by themselves, good intentions can rob us of actual productivity. In other words, intending to do something good is not the same as actually doing it.

But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” - Matthew 21:28-31 

This parable displays a simple but profound truth about obedience - either you do it or you don't, and your original intentions did not matter. 

So where is the deception?  Having good intentions can include making plans, dreaming out loud, and imagining the difference you'll make. All of these things give us an emotional boost. The feeling of doing good things often comes to us up front when we are first embracing an idea. We get excited about it and enjoy the feeling of it without actually doing anything. Those feelings deceive us into thinking that we have accomplished something. 

It looks like this: 
1) We get an inspiring idea 
2) The exciting feelings of accomplishing it come to us up front
3) We put off the work of actually doing it
4) We let the feelings of good intentions replace the actual accomplishment.

Have you made plans that you never completed? Have you dreamed about helping someone but just haven't found the time? Don't be deceived by the euphoria of the dream up front. You're not finished until the deed is actually done.

Social Miracle

We live in a marvelous time. We communicate and connect with others through various technologies that our grandparents would never have dreamed of. In some ways, it's made life easier, but in other ways, it's left many feeling disconnected and out of touch. The ability to see others in your phone's apps may keep you connected on the surface but can leave you without deeper, more helpful relationships. Which is why so many people are bemoaning technology, especially social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

If you are a member of a local church you've probably noticed a decline in weekly attendance and group activities. It has left many feeling disconnected from the body and the leadership scrambling to figure out what is going on and how to address it. Some have concluded that we must go back; we must force everyone to return to the methods of yesterday, but that ship has sailed. The world has changed, people have changed, and it's our job to function as the church in the most effective way for this current generation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating leaving any biblical mandate behind. I'm saying we have an incredible opportunity staring us right in the face. What if God gave us cell phones, texting, emails, facebook, twitter and other communication methods to help us? What if, instead of complaining about technology, we used it to stay connected? What if we used it to help others? What if it's a SOCIAL MIRACLE?

I know there are bad things that can happen online. That's the way tools work. I can use a hammer to build a house or hit you in the head. The hammer isn't good or evil. The person using it is. Your phone is a tool that you can use to lift others up or tear them down. You can use Facebook to judge others or pray for others. The choice is ours, but the mandate comes from God.

...and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. - Hebrews 10:24, 25

Here are some ways that you can help others and stay connected using modern methods:

1. When viewing social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, look for people who need prayer, stop where you are and pray for them. You even have a picture of them to help you visualize as you pray.

2.  Use social media to speak life and hope to others. You never know what people are going through but God does. He often uses people to post something encouraging to help others. Just be sure to pray before you post.

3. Call text or message someone who has been distant or missing from the fellowship at church and encourage them. Be prepared to get involved in their lives as God directs you.

4. If you can't make it to worship service catch the livestream later on youtube or your church's website.

5. You can also give online. You can tithe, give offerings, and even donate to charitable causes right where you are.

I believe the church will always need in-person fellowship and community, but that doesn't mean we can't help each other and stay connected through modern means. So, let's show up when it'time to gather in person for worship, fellowship or service. And when we can't get together in person, let's make the most of technology to spur each other on to love and good deeds.

Pastor Mylon Avery

Make The Trade - by Mylon Avery

"Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:10

What if I offered you $1,000 and all you had to do was give me $100? Would you make the trade? 

As God's child, you probably know that God has a will. In other words, He has a way He wants things to turn out in your life. He planned it before you were born and created you for it. You probably know that it's a good plan, that he loves you and wants to give you abundant life. Unfortunately, many Christians never truly embrace God's will for their lives. It's not because they don't believe in it. It's because they have plans of their own. They've fallen in love with their own version of how things should turn out. It's like holding tightly to that $100 when God is offering so much more. 

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, - Ephesians 3:20

...; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. - John 10:10

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11

The Bible is very clear - God has a plan for you and it is by far the best life you could ever live. But we have doubts, we hesitate, and hold onto our own vision of things. I think the doubt comes from not knowing. God doesn't tell us everything. He doesn't lay out exactly what we will do or where we will end up. He simply says follow me, and it's our job to trust Him. In essence, He is asking you to give Him your $100 before you know what you're getting in return, and that can be difficult. 

But if you know God. If you truly know Him in all of His goodness and love, then you can trust that His plan for you is better than your own. So, make the trade. Stop thinking about losing your own plan and get excited about His plan. Be willing to let go of your will and gladly embrace His. It is in His will that you will live your best, most amazing life.  

Mylon Avery 

Trust The Shepherd

Life is so complex; we cannot begin to fathom its depth. The world has obstacles and hurdles that may surprise you but they do not surprise God. 

Psalms 23: 2-3 says, “He lies me down in green pastures, leads me beside quiet waters, restores my soul, guides me in the path of righteousness for his names sake.” How can we fear the walk of life when our shepherd is God? 

No matter where we are in life, God has been there. The moment you are in may feel hopeless but God has made a path for you. All we have to do is walk the path in trust in the lord. It is easy to be fooled into thinking that God doesn’t care about your problems. I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth. The Bible says God loves you so much he has the hairs of your head numbered. We are God's children and He cares for us, deeply. So the next time life gets scary or you feel lonely remember these steps. 

1. Check your faith in God. 
Proverbs 3: 5-6 says, “Trust in the lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path”. Often, the first problem is that our faith is rocked by our situation. Check your faith regularly to make sure you’re believing in God not your circumstance. 

2. Remind yourself that God is right there with you. 
Isaiah 41: 10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” The world wants you to feel alone. When you are isolated, you are weaker and more vulnerable. Ignore this attack, it is never true. God is always with you. He will never leave you never forsake you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

3. Pray and Believe 
Mark 11: 24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Prayer brings you closer to God and when you get closer to God, you are further from your problems. 

4. Be positive
Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” God’s children should be filled with joy. Even when it’s hard put a smile on your face because you know God has won the battle for you already. This world cannot break you if your joy is in the lord! Follow the above steps and the difficulties of life will become less of a problem and more of an opportunity for you! 

- Joseph Avery

I'm Hungry

But all those things that I might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ's sake. Not only those things; I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage, so that I may gain Christ and be completely united with him. I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life. - Philippians 3:7-11 GNT

I wonder what happened to the hunger in God's people. I wonder when it changed. What happened that made us desire the things of the world more than Jesus? Christianity for many has become a way to get more stuff. Just apply faith to whatever you desire and you'll get it. If you want more, you can get more. Don't get me wrong, I know God blesses His people, but when did Jesus become the pathway to possessions instead of the prize we would trade everything for? When did Jesus stop being our goal? When did knowing Him, sitting at His feet, hearing His voice or seeing His face become less important than having an easy and trouble-free life?

I believe that a fresh move of the Spirit is about to break free among God's people, and it's being birthed in those who are tired of seeing Christianity as an avenue to Earthly prosperity. Yes, they are weary of a God who exists only to provide them with more wealth and a stress-free life. They've had what the world has to offer and they've found it empty and meaningless. People everywhere are hungry for something real. People are hungry for Jesus. Our hunger drives us to break out of old habits and religious rules. It drives us to trade our time and money, our desires and dreams for a moment at His feet. 

Hold on! It's going to be a wild ride. The religious institutions are being shaken and much of the dead weight has got to go. Pastors like me better be ready. Don't try to control it lest we find ourselves attempting to put the move of God in a familiar religious box. We cannot put new wine into an old wine skin. It will be different, messy, sloppy, beyond our control, powerful, real, beautiful, difficult at times, it will cost us our lives, but it will be worth it all just to know Him. Our goal is Jesus. We hunger for Him. He is our obsession. He is all we want. We want Jesus.

Leaving the COMFORT ZONE

The comfort zone is a place where we get stuck; where our roots are ground deep; where we do and say just enough to stay where we are, who we are, and what we are.

Our futures crumble beneath the rot. We say things like, "Not today". That turns into "Next year" and it eventually becomes the thing that never happened. We live in our comforts, some of us will even die there. 

Our marriages are in trouble because the comfort zone says we’ve loved each other enough and marriage is too much work. Our finances barely get us through because we found a job that’s easy and paying bills isn’t fun.

The church is in “jeopardy” because the pews got comfy and we started sleeping on God. The faith of the public is a fading ember because we decided to give up on the work of Christ. The comfort zone traps us and keeps us hidden from God's glory. The comfort zone tells you pity is easier than prayer. 

Today ask yourself, what if Jesus stayed in his comfort zone? What if he was never born in a manger and instead stayed seated the right hand of God? What if he never carried the cross because the comfort zone said he didn’t have to? What if he never rose on the third day because it was easier that way? What if Jesus left the weight of my sin on me?  I am so glad Jesus left the biggest of comfort zones in heaven. He did what he knew he must do not what was easy, and he bought eternity for us all.

Don’t get stuck. Don’t let the devil imprison you in the comfort zone. God has more for you but you can’t receive what's next if you’re not willing to let go of what you’ve got. Maybe you’ve got to lose the job you have now to get the finances you’ve been praying for. Maybe you had to go through rough patch in your marriage to build trust. Maybe God's waiting on you to say that confident prayer to heal you. 

Who knows what God has in store for you but I can tell you none of it is in the comfort zone.

-Joseph Avery