Summary: The third of four messages on the four greatest threats to our spiritual idenitity.

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Identity Theft

March 26, 2006

Stolen by Success

Intro: Do you remember the board game – LIFE. I loved to play it when I was a boy. You start w/ nothing but a goal to win and to accrue as much wealth as possible. But along the way something happens… life! And as you experience life – you discover new priorities, you get a job, you gain a family, but despite these new additions, the goal of the game remains the same – WIN. In fact, the winner of the game is determined by who has amassed the most stuff w/ the fewest number of setbacks. Sound familiar?

Trans: In many ways what I’ve just described is the American dream – get all you can, can all you get, eat what you can and can what you can’t.

Insert: Can I let you in on a secret? God’s dream for you isn’t the American dream. His dream is far greater and far more important than the comforts of today – His dream has eternity in mind.

Trans: We‘re in a series entitled Identity Theft where we’re investigating the (4) greatest threats to spiritual I.D. Theft. So far we’ve looked at what do to prevent being Robbed by Relationships and Mugged by the Mirror. Today we’re going to interrogate the topic of being Stolen by Success.

Note: When we started this series I introduced you to a toy that requires you to place different shapes into a bucket. In particular, we talked about how you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole no matter how hard you try. Likewise, we talked about how Solomon tried to fill the God-shaped hole in his heart and failed.

Note: If you remember, the Bible says Solomon tried, “Everything under the sun” only to realize that “It’s all meaningless. It’s just like chasing after the wind.” Why? B/c you can’t cram a square peg into a round hole and you can’t use the things of this world to fill the God-shaped hole in your heart. But boy how we try. In fact, many people try to fill the hole w/ stuff b/c they think that more stuff they have the more successful they are.

Insert: I recently received an e-mail entitled, The House that Golf Built. The house was amazing; I can hardly describe how immaculate and beautiful it was. One wall was missing open to the Pacific Ocean overlooking one of the Hawaiian Islands. At the end of the slideshow it read, “This is one of Tiger Woods homes.” But do you think for one second Tiger would choose his stuff over his dad whose health is failing. Do you think he is successful b/c of all of his stuff? Man may say yes, but that’s not what God says. I think Solomon had it right, he wrote:

Verse: I have also learned why people work so hard to succeed: it is b/c they envy the things their neighbors have. But it is useless. It is like chasing the wind. Ec. 4:4

Note: What’s Solomon’s point? Whoever has the most toys only thinks he wins, but he’s only fooling himself. B/c success isn’t measured by how much stuff you own or how many games you win, but by whether or not God has your heart.

Insert: Just yesterday, my two daughters had their first soccer games. And I must confess that I was one of those idiot parents running up and down the field yelling for their kids – I don’t know what happened. But when Madeline scored her first goal, I wanted to yell like a Spanish soccer commentator – Goooooalie! I didn’t but I wanted too. Why? B/c I was proud of her. But listen! Even if she would not have scored, I would’ve been just as proud of her b/c of who she is. What she does is neat, but she is so much more than a goal in a soccer game.

Trans: Nonetheless, of the (4) threats to our identity, the drive to succeed might be the most difficult to apprehend, b/c we so desperately want to be liked/respected. Face it – we’ve been groomed from birth to win. The scary thing is that in many ways we believe that “whoever has the most toys wins” is as great of a truth as “God so loved the world.” That’s why we try to tie deeds to grace.

Insert: The question is why do we have such an insatiable desire to succeed and be #1?

Story: When I wrestled, I wanted to win at all cost. I’m not proud to tell you my philosophy was to pin my opponent as quickly as possible. If I couldn’t pin him, then I’d hurt him. If I couldn’t hurt him, then I’d run up the score to end the match early. I’d do whatever was necessary to not have to go 6 min. and ensure that my opponent feared ever having to face me again. Why? B/c I was wanted to be the best – to win and to dominate. What’s the phrase, “Everyone loves a winner?” I believed it, and I wanted to be loved. After all, I had an image to establish and uphold – and winning feels better than losing.

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