ave to awesome picLast week Ken kicked off the first major decision we have to make to take our lives from Average to Awesome!  That is the decision to GET HEALTHY!  He really spent his time focused on three major idols that we all can struggle with if we aren’t paying attention.  Do you remember the three idols he spoke of last week?  It was Religion, Business, and Feelings.  His warning to all of us was that we have to be very careful what we are looking towards to redeem our souls…because let’s face it, if it isn’t God you are heading towards pain.

Hey I have to tell you guys something, this is my favorite time of year.  Fall just rules.  I love the crisp fall mornings.  I love waking up and drinking coffee with a sweatshirt on.  I love the leaves changing, coaching my son’s soccer team, and I really enjoy football season!  I have two sons, and one of the things we do is watch football and play football together and it’s a ton of fun.  We go out in the backyard and the boys put their football jerseys on and go out and pretend they are Antonio Brown from the Steelers and Adrian Peterson from the Vikings, and we have quite the battles out there yelling, and laughing and rolling around in the yard.  I really enjoy watching football games with the boys, and highlights on the sports shows but this year has been really tough.  It’s been hard to watch Sportscenter or an NFL game without some very serious issues of crimes, abuse, and drugs entering the conversation.  It’s tough on a little boy to process these things as he sits watching a game dreaming of playing pro football someday.  You can’t watch a football game without hearing of drug suspensions, child abuse, and domestic violence, and I have watched my sons have to wrestle with some things that I don’t know that I would have even known about at 8 years old and 11 years old because of the decisions that these people make.  It’s pretty disappointing, but it is leading to some very important conversations in our home about what matters, who matters, and why we prioritize things the way we do!  Yes these young men on the TV are superstars.  Yes they have more money than we can fathom, and yes my children think these men are larger than life, but and it’s a very big BUT…they are still just people and people will always let you down.

Last Sunday by the time I got home from church the games had started for that day in the NFL and when I walked into the living room my son was in tears because his favorite player in the NFL is one of the men at the center of these talks of abuse, and he had a very difficult time with it…it really lead me to a great conversation for my son and I about what needs to be central in our lives.

That is where we are heading today, we need to look at a couple very important things when it comes to our health and that is where I find my identity and what I am building the foundation of my life on.

As we look at the decision to get healthy the one area that I really wanted to focus on today was people.  Whether we want to admit this or not people play a major role in our lives don’t they?  I mean I know we live in an era now where we text and email rather than talk to someone face to face, but the reality is that people are always going to be there, whether you try to hide in your home your whole life or not, you will always deal with people.  The reality is that you were created to be in community.  You have been wired by God to be with people from the beginning and I think that is why the emotions, hurts, actions of people can leave such a mark with us because it is part of who we are as humans.

Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” NIV

So right from the very start we see that we have a need to be with others it is wired deep into who we are as people.  So just through our God given nature, people are going to play a big part in our lives, the real trick to this then becomes that we don’t allow others to shape and mold how we see ourselves.  So let me ask you something today…

Where is your identity found?

We have established that whether or not we want to admit it, people have a pretty large role in our lives.  What we really have to be careful of is something that can happen very quickly if we aren’t careful.  We can have our identity stolen!

Not too long ago I was sitting in Frosty Llama with the kids and started getting alerts to my phone from my credit card company that there were fraudulent charges being made on my card…one right after the other!  It was pretty unsettling, and I called the number I was to call, and they lady told me that my identity had been stolen.  Someone had made a fake credit card and was up in Canada making charge after charge on my card!  I couldn’t believe it.  She said to me that this is a common thing, and that they had blocked the card, and it didn’t take long to get it all sorted out, but she said something on the phone that really struck me.

“She said people take identities all the time, it’s very common, and we are here to make sure we protect you from losing your identity.”

I thanked her, and within a week or two it was all sorted out and no harm came to me in any way, and what kept running through my head is wow this is a big problem, and if you take credit cards out if it, it can be an eternal problem, people can steal your identity very easily…because people matter to us!  Part of me wished that God would send me a text or email alert every time someone was pushing in on my identity!  You know just have a special fraudulent claims division that would shoot me an email saying “Sam, be careful here…your identity is in danger here!”

I wanted to establish something as we started this talk, people are a big part of our lives.  We need them in our lives what can happen very easily is that we can end up wrapping our identity up in someone else…when we do that we are in very big trouble.  We have to remember where our identity is actually found…just so I’m not leaving you in suspense your identity is found in Jesus!

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. NIV

The reality is that you have been bought with a price, by Jesus.  You are HIS!  Many of us end up hurt, wounded, and focused on the opinions of others to a point where we begin to lose our identity in what it should be in.  This is tough because people do matter to us.  Especially people we look up to, and maybe even give our love and hearts to, the issue can be that if we don’t stay focused on keeping our identity in Christ we can fall victim to identity theft, and that puts us in a very dangerous place.  We have got to remember what Paul tells us here…we have been bought with a price!  Our identity is in Jesus.

The truth of the matter is that no matter how good you are, someone will make fun of you.  No matter how hard you try someone will not like you!

I know I said that statement pretty confidently but I will be very honest with you here…that statement is not always easy for me to accept.  I want to be liked and I still struggle with the idea that someone wouldn’t be happy with me.  I could have 50 people say something nice to me, but I have an amazing ability to focus on the one who doesn’t like me.  Well, I’m working on it…Pastors are people too right?

Think about your own life right now and I want to ask you a couple of very important questions.

Whose opinion matters to you more than it probably should?  Is it your spouse?  Your mom or dad?  Your boss?  The parents of the kids you coach?  Who is it?

Who is it that has the power to ruin your day?  What happens when the wrong email hits, or the wrong comment is made to you by that person?  Should it wreck you?

What do you do to seek validation?  How far are you willing to go to be liked?  How far would you go to get the affirmation you want?

Can you forgive someone who hurt you?  If you can’t forgive someone that has hurt you it should be sending up a signal that they are carrying too much weight in your life.

Listen if you have clear answers to these questions in your mind it is a very good sign that you are the victim of identity theft.  Let this be your alert, there is possible fraudulent charges happening in your life today!  Your identity may have been compromised!

Listen to Paul’s words here…

Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.  NIV

The last time I spoke to you guys, this verse came out…and as I put it in the sermon and read it from the stage it really shook me up.  That is a very strong statement that Paul is making, you can’t be a servant of Christ and still be trying to please people.  Wow.

While we don’t have God emailing us and sending us text alerts when our identity is being stolen, there are some warning signs that I want you to see today.

Signs of a stolen identity:

  • You don’t spend time with God. You just don’t have the time.  Now you have time for other things but not for Jesus.  We prioritize what is important to us.
  • Your personality changes depending on who you are hanging out with at the time.
  • Nobody knows the real you.
  • You make decisions based on the opinions of others.
  • You spend more time thinking about people than you do God and what should matter.
  • You can’t be transparent about your issues. You have a lot of friends praying for your unspoken issues.
  • You can’t be happy for your friends when something good happens to them.
  • You can’t say “NO!”
  • You feel pressure to lie about your age, weight, your little league sports career, etc. to look good to others.

Listen to me, if you are looking over this list and some of these are true of you, you have been the victim of identity theft.  The reality is that you have two choices:

  1. You can continue to fight to win people over.
  2. We can find our identity in Jesus.

Remember He died for us, He bought us at a price…we are God’s!  So it’s time to put fraud protection over our life and find our identity in Jesus!  So how in the world do we do that?

It all comes down to our foundation!  Listen to Jesus’ words here…

Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  NIV

You know there is a lot of things that contribute to who we are as people.  I am a husband, a father, a pastor, a road biker, a soccer coach, and a sports fan.  What’s funny is often times people will describe you based off of some of the things they see as your passions and interests.  They will tell you things about me; “Sam is a preacher, or a Steelers fan, or a road biker” because they see those things as parts of my life, but the reality is that while I enjoy all of these things…they can’t be the foundation of my life!  My foundation is found in Jesus.  The sad thing is that too many of us find our identity in weak foundations.  For my son as his hero in the NFL fell into more and more trouble this week…he felt hurt, and like the rug had been pulled out from underneath him.  That is so tough for a young man to figure out, looking up to a superstar athlete, who just seems so much larger than life.  Actually it’s tough on all of us adults to figure out isn’t it?  The reality is that people are not a solid foundation.  Wealth, accomplishments, people, they just can’t be our foundation because they will absolutely let us down!

So look at your life.  What causes your life to crumble?  I’m talking about what keeps you up at night in worry?    Whatever that thing is in your life that is your foundation.  You see if your foundation is anything other than Jesus you are destined for a great crash!  Your wealth can be taken from you.  People will let you down, even your boyfriend/girlfriend…even a 20 year old millionaire athlete will let you down…do you know why?  It’s because people are not God.  I’m going to tell you something crazy here today…people make terrible gods.  Your spouse, your pastor, your friends, even Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings…they make terrible gods.  If you are banking on Ken or I to hold your house up for you, we will let you down…even with Pastor in front of our names on our emails.

So here’s the big questions then- How do we make God our foundation?  Let’s go back to what Jesus said again in verse 24…

Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

He says it pretty clearly there doesn’t he?  If you want to make me your foundation you have to put my words into action.  Can I ask you something today, can you take Jesus’ words and put them into action if you don’t know what his words are?  Have you spent time with Jesus lately?  Do you read the Bible?  When was the last time that you really sat down and soaked in God’s word?  Jesus is pretty clear that we can have him as our foundation for life…the perfect one can be the ground you build your home on…and the way you do that is to put Jesus’ words into practice.  So engage his words…and center your life around Him…otherwise we are destined for a great crash.

Identity theft is a growing epidemic in our culture.  It is easy for someone to take your identity.  It is easy for us to get so caught up in life that we begin to build our foundation on very imperfect things.  I know, I know, you have watched all the movies and you know that you are dating that one special person that now completes you.  We saw Jerry McGuire too, can I tell you something.  That special person is dreamy, and cute but they do not complete you!  You have to be very careful here.  I know you love your husband or your wife…but your spouse makes a terrible god.  I know these football players and rock stars are amazing talented people, but they make terrible gods.  I know you see Pastor Ken or myself on this stage and we preach to you, but let me be the first to tell you…we make terrible gods.  We are all people, and we will absolutely let you down at some point.  Your foundation must be built on Jesus, study his words and put them into practice!

It’s hard these days to watch the news.  It’s hard to watch an NFL football game with children because we continue to hear of tough things that kids just aren’t ready to hear…but maybe this is God’s way of trying to remind us of something…people just cannot be the foundation of our life!  If they are, we are destined for a great fall!

We must make a decision to find our identity in Jesus we are his, he paid the price for you and I!

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. NIV

So as we leave here today and head into another week of dealing with people at work, at home, at the sports fields, and all through life, I leave you with this thought.

As we take our lives from average to awesome we need to make a decision to be healthy.  We must guard our hearts from identity theft, and build our foundation of life on Jesus, because people will let you down.  If your identity isn’t fully on being God’s, and your foundation is on anything other than Jesus, you are destined for a great crash.

Make the decision to be healthy, engage Jesus’ words and put them into action today!