"Identity Theft Heartsong Church"
Chris Eaves Nov 29, 2009 “Identity Theft” Heartsong Church Focus: Reclaiming the Identity God gave you. I like to be here. It’s good to be here. I feel good about being here. How bout you? Yeah, I feel good. I feel energized. I feel like I can be myself. How bout you, you feel like yourself today? Yeah, some of you? Yeah, some of you not so much. Not feeling quite like yourself today? Yeah, maybe didn’t quite feel like yourself yesterday either. Not feeling quite feeling like yourself most days? Yeah, I know that feeling. You know that feeling? What’s up with that feeling? You know that kind of feeling where things just don’t feel right. Life is out of whack somehow. Life seems to be a little off-kilter. Sometimes I’ve thought ‘this must be somebody else’s life, because if it was mine I’d be doing it all different.” Ever look around you and say “what in the world is going on? How’d I get here? What am I doing? I don’t even really recognize myself.” Know what I mean? Yeah, you know what I mean. When you don’t recognize yourself, that’s a sure sign of Identity Theft. So, we’re going to talk about that today, because that’s what’s going on in many of our lives, Identity Theft. Now, we hear about it all the time. And there’s even a new company out there now that guarantees no one will ever take your Identity. Seen those commercials? Guy puts his Social Security number on the side of a big truck and dares people to steal his identity. Big deal. I know a family business that’s been making that same guarantee for over 2000 years. A lock guarantee. But, since there’re so many Identities being lost these days, and because a lost Identity can cause a lot of problems in your life and in the lives of those around you, I thought we’d better talk about Identity Theft and how this family business can protect you. 1 Identity Theft is losing the person God made you to be. Some people already know they are not the person God made them to be. Don’t you. Some don’t. It can be tricky, and a lot of people it seems fall victim to it and don’t even realize it! So, we’re going to look at some sure signs to determine if you’ve been the victim of Identity Theft, and if you have, some ways to recover the Identity God gave you, and some solid proven ways to keep it from ever happening to you again by investing in the family business. Ready? You ready for a little pop quiz? Who do you think of when I say ‘Christmas’? Santa Claus or Jesus Christ. Yeah, I know this is kind of a gimmee. ‘Christmas’ ‘Christ.’ Alright, show of hands, honestly everybody for Jesus. No we won’t do that, might kill our morale. You’d think that’d be an easy one, but some have let the Identity God gave them slip away a little. Let’s face it, it’s easy these days to let Christmas time become a ‘cultural’ event. We want to be sensitive to all the non-Christians who want to joyfully participate in the occasion of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, but not actually have to act like it happened. Culture wants us to make it about ‘family’ and ‘sharing’ and ‘expressing love for one another.’ Heaven forbid we publicly and personally make Christmas, Jesus-centered. Culture is the Thief. Are you a victim of Identity Theft? How about this one. In the “Faith Matters” series Steve just finished last week. We talked about how Faith = Trust + Loyalty, multiplied by how much we Invest of ourselves. And last week we had Commitment Sunday where you had the opportunity to invest yourself in Jesus’ cause to rescue the world through Heartsong. Here you go, Did you make a real commitment to give your money to God in support of his mission to rescue the world? Or, did you make a real commitment to give God’s money back to God to support the mission? Oooo. I told you Identity Theft could be tricky. When we lose our Identify we sometimes think money and stuff is ours. We forget that everything we have, everything we get, everything we ‘earn’, and everything we give is first a gift that we receive from God. We are simply holding on to it and protecting it for God until it’s time for us to invest it in a good Jesus-centered thing. See, Identity Theft can happen to us 2 even when we think we’re on top of it. It can steal all your resources and use them for God-knows-what. And, often we don’t even know that it’s happened. We become unknowing victims, often times not discovering it until it’s too late, and the damage has been done. Are you a victim of Identity Theft? Last one. Are you here today hoping that we’re going to, in some way, maybe a big way, maybe a small way, help you get your life on-track, or back on-track, or at least help you figure-out some of those ‘my life ain’t right,’ ‘off-kilter,’ ‘not feeling myself’ feelings? Is that why you’re here? I ask you this honestly. If you are here for that, then you’re not alone. Over the years that’s exactly what brought many of us who are in this room right now, here. Show of hands, honestly, how many of you came here in the past or in the present for that very reason? Yeah, a lot of us, and a lot of us who don’t want to admit it. We didn’t know it then, when we came here, but our Identity, the one God gave us, was already stolen. We came here thinking or hoping that this church could help us. Thankfully, we had already learned that if you want to get better, then you’ve got to go find help. Go to a doctor for physical stuff, a counselor for mental stuff, and a church for the other stuff that you don’t know what to call. This was just another stop, albeit an important stop, on our self-help journey. Because, for each one of us it’s ultimately all about, me. Well, for you, it’s all about you. And, because of that, the Identity that we claimed for ourselves asked a straight forward question: ‘How can I use the resources around me to make me happy and healthy?’ or maybe even more to the point, ‘How can I use people and things to make me feel better?’ That’s what that Identity asks. Do you know that Identity? It’s not the one God gave you. Are you a victim of Identity Theft? When that Identity is the one you’ve chosen to use, instead of the one God gave you, then it’s all about you. We treat family and friends as objects for our manipulation for our happiness. We can be nice about it, maybe even kind and ‘loving,’ but our motivation and purpose is all the same. Strangers are just those who either help us or stand in our way, 3 nothing else. We use everyone and every thing. Investing ourselves in nothing but our own satisfaction. Instant gratification becomes, not a just a good thing, but the primary thing. Our view of people becomes “either help me or leave me alone.” Anybody here ever thought that before? Probably the same people who raised their hands earlier. Are you a victim of Identity Theft? But, you see, as we came back to this church over and over, for some strange reason we can’t really explain, we discovered something by accident that was initially a bit unsettling. We discovered that Heartsong could not help us. It could not get us back on- track, or address our ‘off-kilterness,’ or our feelings of ‘not feeling ourselves.’ And though some of us begged Steve, “Please tell me Who I am?” He and this place couldn’t do any of that, because the Identity that we had claimed for ourselves, the one that we were using, would not allow it! See we thought we could keep our chosen Identity and get fixed by this place. That was our plan, but that was not Jesus’ plan. Your true Identity is the unique set of characteristics God gave you by which you are known and know yourself. But, unlike our DNA, it can be changed, you can give it away, it can be stolen, you can stop trying to recover it, and you can just plain choose to take-on another one to your liking. And if that happens, then there you are. But, one day (God willing) you’ll look around and discover you’re using a fake ID, passing yourself off as someone else, not the person you want to be, not the person Jesus calls you to be, and not the person God created you to be. In this world many of us have discovered that if you don’t protect it, losing your Identity isn’t hard. Like leaving your wallet on a park bench. The good news is that it can be recovered, unlike your wallet. But, it requires some work. Isn’t that just the way it is. It’s easy to go wrong, but we have to use some effort to go right (My old Identity would be looking for somebody to blame for that!) But, you know what, I’m thinking most of us are willing to put up a little effort to go right, to reclaim our true Identity. I mean you made it here today, right? So, let’s not count ourselves out 4 before we even get started. So where might we look for help. I’ve got an idea, let’s look to the bible, OK? I said OK? Let’s see what Paul (who is totally one of the best at explaining all this God and Jesus stuff), let’s see what he says about where we need to start. This is in his letter to the Jesus followers in Rome. Romans 12: 1-6 from ‘The Message’ bible interpretation. 1-2 s So here' what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life— and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the t best thing you can do for him. Don' become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. ll You' be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 3 m I' speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every s one of you does, in pure grace, it' important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. 4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we' re s talking about is Christ' body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we t wouldn' amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ' s s body, let' just go ahead and be what we were made to be. Yeah, I like that. Just own the one-in-a-zillion Identity God gave you, and out of love do the unique things God created you to do. That kind of sounds familiar, don’t you think? Like …. (singing the song God has planted in your heart.) Yes. I knew I liked this Paul guy. I’m glad he’s in my bible! Paul starts off by telling us, we can begin to reclaim our true Identity by fixing our attention on God. He says, “Don'become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit t 5 into it without even thinking.” Do you ever find your self doing that? Adjusting who and what you are to fit-in? To be the right person at the right time for the right situation? Sometimes thinking about it and bending yourself to fit even when it feels ‘uncomfortable?’ We stop fixing our attention on God, and start fixing our attention on ourselves or others. We all have stories where we’ve done that. And when you find yourself doing that a lot, you lose your Identity. And, if we focus our attention exclusively on others or selfishly on ourselves, we move away from our true Identity and from God. Instead of ourselves, we should our mind and energy on God! Wondering how to do that? Try focusing your life on the nine parts of the JCL (these little cards are everywhere around here. If you haven’t got one yet, get one), focus on this and soon you’ll be doing things from a place of love, and rediscovering your true Identity. Becoming the person you were meant to be, the one God meant you to be. One with a sense of peace and joy that’s found beyond self-interest and self-love, but found in God’s love. Fixing your attention on God. That’s the beginning of defeating Identity Theft, and reclaiming your true Identity. Next Paul tells us to simply have some gratitude toward God if we want to be the person he created us to be. You know gratitude, it’s about being thankful; thankful for the life we have, the life ahead of us, the life God wants us to have, and the chance to continue on this adventure of a lifetime with him, in love. No, it doesn’t mean thanking him for the hardships and pains. It means having gratitude for the opportunity to overcome them, thanking Him all along the way. Remember, everything we have, everything we get, everything we ‘earn’, and everything we give, is first a gift that we receive from God. And, if you embrace the things God does for you and accept with gratitude the deep love in which God does them, you will begin to be changed from the inside out. And that’s not talking about being the same you, just doing things differently (that’s trying the outside- in method, and it’s much harder!). It’s about reclaiming your true Identity with Jesus and allowing him to change you, transform you from your center and working with him all along the way as it begins find its way out into every area of your life until one day, who 6 knows, you might discover your true Identity intact, and find yourself singing your heartsong. Start with gratitude. That’s the beginning of defeating Identity Theft, and reclaiming your true Identity. Finally, Paul gives it to us straight about how to keep Identity Theft from ever happening to us again. We must band together as a tribe of Jesus followers and ‘just go ahead and be what we were made to be.’ He says, “Each of us finding our meaning and function as a part of the body.” I mean there’s probably more than a few of us in here that have tried to do it alone. Am I right? Only to discover quickly or slowly that going it alone just doesn’t cut it. You can only go so far. But, when we’re in it together growing, learning, serving, investing our lives in each other, then we all get so much more out of life and faith, and have a greater impact on those around us. Isolation and going it alone will only get you so far, and it’s not very close to Jesus. But together, we lift each other up, encourage each other, hold each other accountable, support each other, strengthen each other, and comfort each other. God designed it this way. He even sent Jesus to show us how it actually works. Showed us through his life and teachings that the whole thing is to be a group effort. That’s why here we call ourselves a tribe, we’re in this together or not at all. It’s a ‘family’ business. We not just here to say ‘Hi’ to one another, we’re here for each other. Because if we’re not, then it doesn’t work for you, or me, or us. “A chopped-off finger or cut-off toe” doesn’t amount to much, and it certainly won’t get us any closer to our true Identity and the Jesus Centered Life. And that’s why if you fully invest yourself in this tribe, in Jesus’ family business you get a lock guarantee against Identity Theft. And for us, investing yourself means getting shoulder to shoulder with other growing Jesus followers. Of course, we are called to do that with our time, our energy, our creativity, and resources. But we are primarily called to do that with our lives! Sharing, laughing, growing, consoling, encouraging, serving, supporting, and loving one another. 7 And the best way we know to do that here at Heartsong is in a …. Small Group. As they say ‘Jesus taught it, the bible says it, and we believe it,’ so there. Oh yeah, and if you’ve tried it, really tried it, then you know it really works. There’s nothing better than having people in your life that are there for you through good times and bad, supporting your best (and helping with your worst) with their love and friendship in the name of Jesus. Doesn’t that sound awesome? Wouldn’t everybody want that? I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t? No judgments, no intrusions, no b.s. (that’s brazen superficiality), nothing but a group of people trying their best to own their true Identity and be the unique person God created each of them to be. Have you got that in your life? If you don’t, wouldn’t you like to at least try it? What’s the worse that could happen, you stay just the way you are? And the best, you could blossom into the person you dreamed you always could be, pick up a handful of great friends along the way, and learn what real love is! This January we’re going to give you an opportunity to reclaim and grow in your true Identity. An opportunity to connect with others who have come to this place searching for peace and happiness in Jesus. An opportunity to create some new friendships, stretch yourself a little, and help this time we share together on Sunday morning have even more value in your life. On Sunday, January 10th, Steve is starting a new message series called “Power Walking – the Jesus Method for Maximum Health” and we’ll be offering some new short-term Growth Groups to gather and explore his message every week. Groups will be meeting on different days during the week, all over the area for 7 weeks. And, all of us will be digging a little deeper, following a Guidesheet about the week’s message, and talking each week about where Steve went wrong. No, no, no. We’ll just be sharing how we understood the week’s message and how we can grow in Jesus through it. Now, I’m sorry for some of you, but the new Groups are only for those who aren’t already in a Small Group. These new Growth Groups will meet together for the 7 weeks 8 of the series, and that’s it. They don’t continue on. So you’re not being roped in, I promise. Once a week, for 7 weeks, to gather and talk about the message in the way Jesus taught us to do it, together. Now, for those of you already in a Small Group, you’re in luck. Most of the Small Group Leaders are interested in participating in this series study also. So, just talk to your Leader and see, and if your SG isn’t full, it’ll be a great chance for you to invite someone to join you for the 7 weeks! You’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the month to come, because our goal is to get everyone involved. Everyone growing. Everyone searching. Everyone digging a little deeper. Everyone discovering soul-satisfaction. Everyone claiming their heartsong. And, everyone in it together, so we can all help each other grow closer to Jesus and the JCL. Are you a victim of Identity Theft? Are you living with a fake ID? It’s time to fix that. It’s time to reclaim what is rightfully yours. Together, the people of Heartsong church, Jesus, and you can do that, but you have to want it. Here’s another opportunity extended to you to help you begin to defeat Identity Theft, and reclaim and maintain your true Identity, helping you to sing the song God has planted in your heart. We might as well, right, “since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and s s marvelously functioning parts in Christ' body, let' just (invest ourselves and) go ahead and be what we were made to be.” 9