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Identity Crisis

Updated: May 14

Pastor Ricky Bishop


Sermon Transcription:

My name is Ricky Bishop. Bishop is not my first name, and I am not an ordained Bishop. A lot of people say, "Oh, wow you're in your young 30s and you're already an ordained Bishop." Like, no, it's just my last name. They all see my Instagram, and they're like, "It says Bishop. Ricky." So, everybody's like, "Oh man, you're an ordained Bishop, like can you come and do this?" I was like, "I'm not, I'm not. I'll come and do it, but I'm not an ordained Bishop." Um, so it might not work out the way that you want it to work out.

But anyways, real quick if you know me, then you know that I love to honor your lead pastors, um, Pastor Stan and Pastor Inna. I don't know if they're watching tonight. I know the time difference where they are is mega crazy. It's always a privilege to get to sit with those two and to talk with them and to minister with them, and them minister to me, and pour into me. And, uh, it's just, it's really cool. They're amazing. You guys have amazing pastors in case you didn't already know, which I'm sure you do. I'm sure you know that.

Like I said, my name is Ricky. I am the youth pastor and young adult pastor, um, and little kids pastor and nursery pastor. Actually, I'm just the next gen pastor. I'm over all ages from zero to 25. But, um, I am not called to direct kids' ministry, so we have somebody that does that, and I just help out where I can help out, but I focus more on youth and young adult at a church called Journey Church in Vancouver, across the bridge about 20 minutes from here. If you've never heard me talk before, you're going to hear two different accents, and you're going to wonder where I'm from. Um, I'm a West Virginia boy that grew up in Philadelphia, so there's that. So, I still say "coffee" sometimes, I say "yestaday" instead of "yesterday." Um, but everything else you can tell like I'm from the sticks and the hollers of West Virginia, so it'll bounce back and forth. So, just buckle in.

Um, you guys ready to dive into the word today? Come on, let's go right in. Hey, and I'm just going to be straight up with y'all. If you know me, I like to be straight up. I like to be transparent. I like to be mega honest, and I'm just going to say if I upset you today, you can email Pastor Stan. Um, and I'll find out if he ever lets me come back to do this.

This word that I feel like the Lord has given me, um, a while ago actually, I feel like it's a right now word. And I never say that. I don't think, like, I get nervous saying, like, this is a right now word, this is a timely word. Like, I'll let other people say it about things, but I'm just like, I'm not going to say that about, but I truly believe that this is because I believe this is something that the Lord has been showing me and dealing with me in my heart.

As you guys know, I'm not a person that gets to preach because I have everything figured out. Sometimes I feel like the most messed up people get to say some things because these are things that, God is dealing with me on, and I just get to invite everybody else in on, on what God is doing in my life and the things that he's, like, you know, smacked me in the mouth with and, like, convicted me with and stuff like that. So, look at your neighbor and say buckle up and we'll see what happens. So, let's, let's dive right into it.

I like how somebody, said, and let's see what happens. I wasn't intending for that, but I'm glad they did it. I was just looking for the buckle-up part, but thank you for being so locked in. They went with the whole thing. Let's dive right into Romans 12:2, right up here: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will."

And let me just emphasize this real quick: perfect will, perfect will. God's will is perfect. And, and, and I'm going to ask this question. And, and, and there's a lot of scripture. I'm very scripture heavy today. There's probably, I had, I had like 23 different scriptures, but I narrowed it down to about 11 to 13. Um, I think I sent Ilya 11, but I might throw some surprise ones in there. Very scripture heavy. So, if you're taking notes and if I start talking too fast, I'm sorry. You can text me or get Pastor Stan to hit me up, and I'll send, I'll send all the scriptures over to you. But, um, but yeah, so how many people can agree that we are in a crisis in 2024? I think pretty much the whole room can agree with that.

Here's the thing is I'm not talking about groceries being ridiculously expensive because they are. I got one bag for $67, and if they charge me $0.99 for something one more time, because if I get paid $67.99, I'm like, if y'all can't round this, like, and then they're like, "Oh, can you, you want to round up for this?" I'm like, "I sure don't. I want you to round it down to an even $67 is what I want because grocery shouldn't be this much." They're ridiculously expensive, but I'm not talking about that, or the gas prices. Come on, like I, I'm from the East Coast. I just went to Florida three weeks ago.

First of all, my beautiful wife is here. Can I just, can I talk about honor? I can't do this without her. I'm not used to that part yet. We've only been married six months, so don't, don't, don't attack me, um, that he forgot to talk about his wife. Um, but, um, she's probably rather me not, um, but I couldn't, I couldn't do what I do without her. She's a, she's a mighty woman of God. And, and, and it's Mother's Day. Let me do that too real quick. Let me pause. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and soon-to-be moms. Like, super cool. All right, now I'm back on track. They'd be like, "You didn't, you didn't say Happy Mother's Day."

So, gas is ridiculously expensive, groceries are ridiculously expensive, and I'm not even talking about a political election because we all know that's coming up. I'm talking about an identity crisis. There is a huge identity crisis. If you're taking notes today, the title for today is "Identity Crisis." Y'all's media team crushes it. Thank you so much. It's like, boom, right there: identity crisis. So, y'all already had that written down before, before I said it, so I didn't need to do that.

All we have to do is turn on our TV, whether you got cable or you're streaming 27 different platforms like me, and your, and your wife is saying, "Can you delete some of these?" And I'm was like, "I can't because football season's coming up and it's NBA playoffs right now." It's like, it's just a, it's might as well just keep it all year round because I'm going to get it back on there. But every time you turn on the TV, you can see that there is an identity issue in the generation of 2024.

And I'm not just talking about the 30 somethings, the 20 somethings, the teens, or the 50 somethings or 60 somethings or 40 somethings. I'm talking about everybody who is alive right now. Everybody who has breath in their lungs and is walking around on this Earth, there is an identity issue in 2024. Everywhere I look, I'm seeing people search for their identity in every place except for the word of God. This is going to be tough today. I might step on somebody's toes, but I'm getting to a point in my life, so, so many times in my life, where people are like, "Ricky, like you remind me of Paul, like you don't care to hurt anybody's feelings." I'm just like, "Ah, I'm not trying to hurt your feelings. It's not me. It's the word of God."

There's pastors out there that hear, like, "Oh, like you're such a Peter because you just love well and you lead and like all this stuff." And can I just submit that we have enough Peters, we have enough Pauls, we have enough people interpreting, you know, imitating those. I'm going to say interpretation for some reason, imitating those two guys, but it's time that people start to imitate John the Baptist and say, "For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." It's time for some John the Baptist mindset people to rise up and say, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

So it's going to be a little bit heavy today, so I tell you that just to kind of get into that mindset. That's where we're going. So, everybody's looking for their identity except for in the word of God. The word of God is the place where we find truth and identity. If you've never heard me speak before, I'm getting excited. It might sound like I'm yelling. I'm not mad. I'm just passionate about Jesus. So that's all I'm just going to say. So, if you're new to Bishop Ricky, I love you, Pastor Inna. If you're new to hearing me, please know I'm not condemning you. I'm not yelling at you. I'm just passionate about Jesus.

Some try to find their identity in their jobs. Let's run through some of these identity issues. As a man, I feel like I can say this because I've been there and I know what this feels like and looks like. We have men in this generation that are giving more time to their boss than their wives' needs are hurt. I'm not saying to not work. The Bible literally says that we have to work. The Bible literally says, if you do not work, you do not eat. My grandpa taught me that when I was 22 years old 'cause I thought I was going to be a rock star and just go anywhere with my guitar and make $50. He's like, "You can't live on that." The Bible literally says we must work. If we don't work, we don't eat. But we weren't meant to put work in a spot that belongs to God or our families. We weren't meant to put a job in the place that belongs to God or that belongs to our wife or our kids.

I'm going to tell you right now, God gets the best of me. My wife gets the best of me. Everybody else gets the rest of me. Like, I'm sorry to say, but today you get the leftovers of what I have to offer because my best goes to the father, then my second best goes to my wife, and everybody else gets the rest. And I feel like if we would just start to live in that mindset of like, God gets the best, my family gets the best of me, everybody else and everything else gets the rest of me, I believe that we will start to see a generation begin to see things of Heaven that we've never seen before. And that we can literally start to see on Earth as it is in heaven. Just so you know, that's what Jesus prayed, "Our Father, Hallowed be thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven."

Why Jesus gave God the best of him, gave everybody else the rest, and then he gave everybody... He gave... He gave us all, all of it at one point, but while he was here on Earth, like, he didn't forsake that alone time with the father. He got into the prayer. Others find their identity by sitting at a bar. Some try to find their identity in relationships. I'm a youth pastor, so I know what that looks like in teenagers, and I'm getting pretty good to see what it looks like in young adults.

And I know people over 25 years old have this issue that, "Oh my goodness, like, well, I'm in this relationship, um, but we broke up. I've been single for a day, so, but now I'm in another relationship. And then we broke up. I made it, like, four days this time, so I'm going to get in another relationship." This is girls and guys, men and women running around the world looking for fleshly relationships, forsaking the spiritual relationship that we were created for.

John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill." I promise I can read. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. And I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." Romans 1:25 through 27, "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things." I'm going to go get into as many relationships as I can. I'll worship relationships with a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

Can I... I don't know why I'm on that, but I'm telling you right now, there are no women on this Earth that can love you more than Jesus already has. I don't know who needs to hear that, but I feel it in my spirit. The best relationship, men, the best... The only way we can even love a woman is to love God. First is to lay down our lives just like Jesus did for the church. I don't know why I just felt that in my spirit. I hope that blesses somebody.

But they worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relationships with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Keep that up just right there for just a second.

Lack of identity in Jesus will cause you to fall into the traps of the enemy. He came to steal, kill, and destroy. When our identity isn't in him, the enemy will begin to trick us to adopt our identity from the world. We read it earlier, Romans 12:2. Romans 12:2 put it back up there real quick. I know, I know, I told you to stay right there. I'm sorry, I'm all over the place. You're doing great. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How do I renew my mind? I stop giving earthly things more time than I give to the Father. I get to a point in my life where I begin to say, "You know what, instead of getting right to the kitchen to do the dishes that I left in the sink the night before before I went to bed, I'm going to first get in prayer." Martin Luther King once said, "I know I'm busy, I have a lot of things to do." This was said by one of his people. I don't remember the whole details of it, but I remember the quote. He would say, "I know I have a lot of things to do and I have a busy day, but how can I even begin those tasks without spending at least two hours in prayer?" I'm not saying you have to spend two hours. God just wants something from us. I'm telling you what, 10 minutes of your time in prayer and in the word is better than zero. This is why Paul warns us to not conform to the patterns of this world.

How do we know if someone is struggling with an identity crisis? First, is they adopt the patterns of the world. That's a pretty good indicator that somebody's struggling with their identity. The second is found in Proverbs 14:9, "Fools mock at making amends for sin, but good will is found among the upright." If you find somebody who hates repentance, they might have an identity issue. If they're making fun of you, if they're in your circle and they're saying, "Why do you gotta repent? Why you AP? Why you gotta do that?" Look right here, fools mock at making amends for sin. Don't get mad at me, it's the word of God. This is not Ricky Bishop. Proverbs 15:32, "Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding." These two verses, to me, are very good indicators, help me find very good indicators of people who are struggling with their identity in 2024. These are pretty good identity indicators, I promise. I can read, these are pretty good indicators of an identity crisis.

And here's the thing, excuse me, a weird crack was about to happen. I'm seeing people get in financial trouble, so they consume themselves with overtime. Like I said, overtime is good, work is good, but it's not God.

How do you get to wake up and say every day, "Oh God's my provider, he'll take care of every need," and then sit there and worry, "Oh my gosh, I didn't work 75 hours this week, so I'm going to fall flat on my face?" I'm not saying not to work overtime. I've worked plenty of overtime. I've not gone on a vacation for eight years. That's in my secular jobs and my vocational Ministry. I'm a task-oriented person. There's people on our youth leadership team that will sit there and tell you that sometimes they have to remind me, "Hey, we can pin that for later." That's why I have people on my team and not just yes people. Surround yourself with people that are going to tell you no. That's a free nugget right there. I didn't have that in my notes or anything, there you go. I'm a task-oriented person. I like to work, I don't like sitting at home. I hate it. We work so hard to have a beautiful apartment and I don't want to be there. I did for like the first two, three months of marriage, I was like, "This is great, I'm married, I get to come home, there's somebody here, I get to talk to, sometimes she's got food cooking." But I don't like it. Just like she'll tell you, I hate sitting at home. I want to go do something. I will stay out all day long, even if I don't have anything to do. And then I'll come home and act like I worked such a hard day because it makes me feel like it makes my home feel better when I, even if I didn't do anything, I go to the church office and just sit there and I watch The Chosen for an entire, I haven't done that, we're watching it together, so she's like, "What episodes have you watched without me?" It was just a hypothetical example. But my point is, we can trust that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider.

I see people that have a bad day, and so they run to the bar or the liquor store, trying to find identity in the bottom of a bottle. I'm seeing people get tired of getting hurt by boyfriends or girlfriends, so they run to same-sex relationships, because the enemy begins to say to a woman that goes, "Well, no man will ever love you, you keep getting broken up with, you keep going from man to man to man to man to man, so why don't you just go over here and just find a woman who can love you better than any man can?" Not even realizing that love doesn't even come from the man that she's looking for. She's looking for love in a man that she doesn't need to be looking for love in, and she needs to be looking for love in Jesus. Because like I said earlier, there's no man on this earth that can love you more than he already has. And then we have men doing the same thing. We have men that are going from relationship to relationship to relationship to relationship, and the enemy going, "You know what, how about you just go over here and try getting in a relationship with another man? The world says it's okay, society cheers and applauds for this. Nobody's gonna look at you differently, you live in Portland, so make it weirder, keep it whatever the stupid slogan is in Portland.

The enemy is twisting everything. Like I said, he's here to kill, steal, and destroy. And men are falling to this sin of same-sex marriage. Women are falling into this sin of same-sex marriage, mostly because I feel like they're looking for love in all the wrong places. And men, you just don't realize the purpose and the plan that God has for your life. You don't realize the children that he wants you to raise up to be warriors of the kingdom of heaven by being a warrior of the kingdom of heaven yourself. And there's women in today's day and age that don't realize that yes, they can be a mighty woman of God. Read the book of Esther. There's so many more I can name. Paul literally calls, in Romans 16, this is another free nugget. I forget her name off the top of my head, sorry, it's in my notes. I was going to take time to go to a different completely screen and look for it, but he literally calls this woman a deacon of the church.

"So, women, why? Men and women, why? Let the enemy lie to you whenever God has a plan for your life. He's got a purpose for your life, but it includes Him and excludes sin. 48.1 183 Americans die by suicide every single year. 1.7 million have attempted suicide in a year.

People not liking what they see in the mirror, so they decide to go into a procedure to change the way God created them to be. Now think about 2024 and tell me that there is not an identity crisis in this generation. Through Ephesians 4:22 for me real quick, sir. Ephesians 4:20. Oh, did I? That's... never mind, you don't have to throw it up there. It's literally, 'The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy.' Or no, 4. Did I give you 4:22? Boom, that... oh, y'all got it right there. I've been turning around. Well, was that here last time? I was here, I turned around the last time I was here too. Pastor Stan's probably like, 'Why does he keep turning around?' I never told you I was a smart guy. Don't claim that. You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires. We read this scripture where God said that God turned them over to their lusts. When I read that, I think about, you know what, I feel like there's a time where God's just like, you know people, like they were acting crazy, they were whatever, this is just... this is, I'm telling y'all, this is grain salt, this is Ricky Bishop of you. This is what I call the BIV, the Bishop International Version. You're just getting a little paraphrase of what goes through my brain whenever I'm reading scripture sometimes. So, don't go out and be like, 'This man said...' But sometimes, I just feel like God's like, you know what, I'm just going to wash my hands of this. It's like, alright, well, you don't want me to intervene, you don't want me to do anything, you don't want to spend time with me, so go ahead. I'mma turn you over to it and it will literally destroy your life. But the good news is, we have a God who loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life, everlasting life. So, that means, what does that mean? What does that mean? That means that if I can realize that I'm trapped in sin, I can cry for help and I can call on Jesus to save me.

There has to come a time, Church, where we decide that we can't look for our identity in earthly things. The church has been quiet long enough. There's a statistic out there that says that our region, Washington and Oregon, um, I believe it just says the Pacific Northwest in general, is the 11th most unchurched region in the United States, number 11. That's not far from the top 10. And the statistic says unchurched, and everywhere I go, I'm seeing different churches, I'm meeting different Believers of Jesus in the Pacific Northwest. When I first moved out here five years ago, my dad was like, 'You're going to a whole another world.' And when I first got out here, it literally felt like I was in a third world country, like doing missions work. I was like, 'God, I'm not called to full-time missions,' that's how I felt. The 11th most unchurched and I saw this word unchurched and I sat on that for probably four years and until about a year ago, I realized that this Region's not unchurched, it's just too quiet. That this region has gotten so comfortable with being silent that we're not seeing people stand up to stand up against the things of the world to proclaim the name of Jesus. That's really what I'm seeing in this region. I don't believe this region is unchurched, it's just too quiet. And we've been quiet far too long. There are people out there who may have never heard or maybe they are too far into the Trap of the enemy to remember that there is a God that loves them and if the church stays quiet, that person may not hear it when they need to hear it.

So whether you're at your jobs or whatever you do from a day-to-day basis, you gotta let people know, 'Hey, Jesus loves you. Hey, there's a God that created you for a plan and a purpose.' Go up Genesis, who I almost read wrong, almost said Galatians 1:27, you don't gotta turn around, Ricky, it's right there. So, God created Mankind in his own image, in the image of God, He created them; male and female, He created them. And we have so many people fall into this sin of same-sex relationships. We have so many people that are looking into a mirror and say, 'You know, I don't like what I see, so I'm going to call my doctor and say I want to change this.' And what gives us the right? Like, I was in a museum in Florida a couple weeks ago and I'm looking at all these expensive paintings, lock in with me here, I promise I'm going somewhere. And I'm looking at all these expensive paintings and I'm just like, what would happen if I just pulled the pen out of my pocket and started doodling myself right on that painting? And that's when this scripture just popped into my head that God created us male and female. How dare we try to mess with somebody else's work? Like you wouldn't go to a Van Gogh painting or a Picasso and pull out your paintbrush and start... you wouldn't even dare to do that. We're the canvas of God. So, how dare us try to mess with what He created? That was free, that wasn't even on this notes right."

Here, we were created on purpose for a purpose, and our first purpose is to know Him and glorify Him. Living in sin does not glorify the Father. Now, hear me whenever I say this: you might think, 'Man, you're talking about sin a lot. You must never sin.' Nope, that's wrong. I'm a human being. I fall short of the glory all the time. The word literally says we'll fall short of the glory of God. I'm a human being, we're human beings in this room.

When I'm talking about sin not glorifying the Father, I'm talking about unrepentant sin. I'm not talking about falling to temptation. I'm talking about living and choosing to live in habitual sin. Just in case anybody was thinking, 'Man, I'm never going to get it right.' Me neither. But if I can go to the throne room with a repentant heart, and if I fall to temptation, and if I can be transparent and vulnerable...

If you ask our youth and young adult students what the purpose of Summit Student Ministries is, they're going to say: to encounter Jesus, bridge the gap between lost people and Jesus, and to live in complete transparency and vulnerability. That's Summit Student Ministries, that's Journey Church of Vancouver. I'm going to fall short, but if I can go to the Father and plead the name of Jesus with a repentant heart, then I am covered. You were created on purpose for a purpose. The good news is it's not too late. You're not too far gone. It's a lie from the pits of hell. You're not too far gone.

If you're in this room tonight and you're just like, 'Well, I've just done too much,' yesterday was a crazy night, it was Saturday night, whatever this, whatever that, last week, last year, ten years ago, I did this, you're not too far gone. If we call upon the name of Jesus, we are a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17. You don't have to turn around. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. What does this mean? This means if I've given my life to Jesus, if I said, 'Jesus, I can no longer live for myself, I can't do this life by myself, I admit, believe, and confess that you died on the cross and three days later you rose again so that I may have eternal, everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven, because you defeated death, hell, and the grave,' then that means I am a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here.

I would not be honest if I said that once you give your life to Jesus, then everything's going to be just fine and easy. I used to be told in my 20s, 'You'll never get a microphone to speak to people because you're too rude.' I just needed a room full of Nicks because he knows what I'm talking about. He knows how I'm coming across. He's from the same area I grew up in. But I wouldn't be honest if I said that once you give your life to Jesus, then everything is going to be easy or peachy, as people say. It's not. It's hard. You know how hard it is to be single till you're 34 years old? You're going to laugh. It was kind of a joke. It's hard. Waited 34 years... well, I guess you got to cut out the infant age, toddler era, the time I thought I was going to be a professional basketball player, um, time I thought I was going to be a rock star that took up, you know, half of my 20s. So, I'd say, you know, a good 13 to 15 years. But being 25 to 34 and being single and seeing everybody get married and I'm married into a beautiful, amazing Ukrainian family and I have learned that in that culture, if you ain't married and have kids by 25, just like what's wrong with you?

I remember when I asked her dad, her mom was like, thank you, that's really the only English she knows if I'm allowed to say that. So, she was like, she was like saying yes, but it came out thank you. But I'm saying, like, it's hard. Being a follower of Jesus is not for the faint of heart. But I'm telling you what, there's so much worth and reward in doing it. If you can just give up yourself, if we can give up our 'El' and decide, I'm going to... I'm not even kidding, y'all, like people who know me know that this is absolute facts.

When I was in the dating world, which was a nightmare, I never want to do it again. I would sit down at coffee shops, I would get there 30 minutes early, I would get my coffee in a to-go cup and then I'd wait for whoever I was waiting on to get there. This date, and they walk in, I'd get up, I'd pay for the coffee, they'd get it in this oh, I get it for the... he to hear, you know, the real glass mug and do all the fancy art on the top and they're sitting there and I had my to-go cup of coffee. And here's why: because as soon as they said something that didn't align with the word of God, it was over. Dead serious. You don't know how many times I've looked at women and said, 'Thank you for your time, but we're done. Have a good day, God bless you,' and get up and walk away. And sometimes, if it was just completely crazy, I just be like, 'Yeah, you know what, you have a great day,' and I just get up and leave. You know how much boldness that takes in your faith whenever you're sitting across as a single man in his 30s and you're going on date after date after date? But I refused. I refuse to settle for anything less than what God had planned. And that doesn't make me better than anybody else. I'm just saying it's possible. There are times that I'm like, 'God, this is too hard,' and I'll be in my prayer room and I'm screaming at the enemy and I'm mad and I'm like, 'God, like this ain't fair.' It happens. We're human. It's not going to be easy.

But let me move on and say this: the enemy will attack someone whose identity is in Jesus. If your identity is in Jesus, the enemy will attack you. If you're being attacked by the enemy, then you're doing something right. And some people just want to be so Debbie Downer and throw pity party like, 'Man, the enemy just won't leave me alone and this and that and this and that.' Shut up. Good. Let him attack you. Stand stronger in your faith. Get in your word more. Get in prayer more. Intercede. Stop talking to God and start talking with God. And the enemy, no weapon formed against you shall stand. Giving you a lot of free nuggets tonight. I wasn't planning on these, but I love it.

If your identity is in Jesus, the enemy will attack you. But he will deceive the one who does not know their identity in Jesus. So, if I know my identity in Jesus, I'm just going to get attacked. No big deal. It's not fun being attacked by the enemy, but I'd rather be attacked knowing that I'm being attacked because the very foundations of hell are terrified of what God is going to use me for, rather than be deceived and tricked and live a life of lies, a life that was destroyed, a life that was killed by the enemy, and face an eternity in hell. I would much rather be attacked here than to spend eternity there. There's a very real place called hell, there's a very real place called heaven, and one day you are going to spend time in one of those two places for eternity. Hopefully nobody in this room—I'm not saying you're going to hell right now, like, I'm not doing that—but I'm saying there are people out there, teenagers, young adults, older generations out there. I would much rather be attacked than deceived.

When the enemy cannot change what we think about God, he will try to change what we think about ourselves. When the enemy cannot change what we think about God, he will try to change what we think about ourselves. Throw up Jeremiah 1:15 for me, sir, and I'm moving along. I feel like I'm taking up a lot of time. I'm sorry. I'm going to start zooming now. Ilia just gave me a thumbs up. I got time. Hope y'all packed dinner. I'm just kidding. "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I've read this a thousand times. I get emotional every time. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." So, some of you are like, "I don't know how to be a prophet." All you gotta do is proclaim the name of Jesus. All you gotta do is look at somebody and say, "Jesus loves you. Jesus died for you. You can spend an eternity in heaven. You don't have to go to hell." This verse brings our attention to the sovereignty and control of God. He knew us before forming us in the womb. How can we not trust him with everything and trust that he created us for a purpose and that no one on earth or in hell can tell us who we are or who we are not? That one person—I was about to say one person got it. I was about to repeat it.

If you walk around without the word of God, I'm telling you right now, if you don't got a Bible, it'll probably be closed tonight, but go tomorrow and get you a Bible because I'm telling you right now, if you walk around without the word of God washing over you, without your identity in Jesus, I promise you, you are the enemy's easiest target. It's like me playing basketball against a five-foot person. That's easy. Y'all just pictured it. It's happened. It was easy. I'm like 90 lbs overweight. Wait, now I'm not a strapping athlete anymore. It's still pretty easy when they're 5 foot. But how can I stand against attacks of the enemy that feel like giants if I'm not spending time in the truth, if I'm not spending time in the Word, the inherent Word of God? This is the truth. And I'm telling you right now, you guys will probably heard me say it a lot, but you don't get to pick and choose. You either believe the whole thing or none of it. You either take the whole thing or you don't take any of it because I'm telling you right now when it comes to this, when it comes to the word of God, our opinions do not matter. I will say that a thousand more times, a billion more times before I die because we live in a generation that cares too much about their opinion. And I'm telling her, I know I'm just telling you all stuff you already know. That's all I'm here to do today. If you're not in this Word and if you are in this Word and you're just like, "Oh, I don't agree with that." Who cares? If you can't say amen, say ouch.

I wasn't waiting for it, but don't be the enemies. Don't be an easy target for the enemy. Can somebody in this house tonight just say, you know what? If nothing else, I'm going to leave here refusing to be an easy target for the enemy. That's like my new thing every morning that I tell myself. That you know, I refuse to be easy today. Like, Devil, you can attack me, you can come at me, but I'm telling you, you're going to catch hands. Like, you're going to know that you came against Ricky Bishop or Bishop Ricky today. I will never let that go. I will pick on her about that till the day I die. It's just too easy. She did it. I love you Pastor Inna so much, but you did it. Bishop Ricky. Maybe one day. I can't. She knows what actually I'm not going to pick on. She's just prophesying. That's all she's doing. She's just prophesying. Bishop Ricky. That's what I told our regional bishop, um, Bishop Pat and Miss Jan. I said, "When that day comes—" I told her like a long time ago, I said, "I'm signing everything B squared." So, Pastor Inna, thank you for prophesying over my life. That's what I'm talking about. And please forgive me if you're watching. Forgive me. I love you. Pastor Stans be like, "Bro, you made fun of my wife. Like, you're never coming back." I'm like, "I'm sorry. I repent right now. Seriously. I'm sorry." To fully embrace our identity in Jesus, we must first trust what he did on the cross. If you want to embrace your identity in Jesus, some—I hear the question all the time, not just teenagers, not just young adults, but even in the people who have come before me. I don't know if that's offensive, right? Elder? I can say elders, right? Am I allowed to say that? Yeah, older than me. Thank you. See? Thank you. Help. That's a spiritual mama answer right there. That's what I'm talking about. I hear people ask us, "Well, how do I find my identity in Jesus? That seems like a complicated thing to do." I've been praying. My younger brother is one of these people, without a doubt. If he's watching, he might get salty, but he'll agree with me whenever the conversation's over. He's constantly like, "I don't know what my identity is in Jesus." Well, do you believe what he did on the cross? Yes? Done. Now just do something for the kingdom.

To truly find that identity, we must first trust what he did on the cross and that he rose again and is coming back.That's our identity in Jesus of saying, "I believe that Jesus died, died, and rose again, and that he is coming back for his bride, the church." Second, we must believe and accept what God says we are, rather than who others say we are. We must believe and accept goes back to this thing right here: how do I find out who God says I am? It's right here. I must believe and accept what God says, rather than what people on Earth say or what society says.

Let's look at Ephesians 1:1: "In him, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will."

Proverbs 19:21: "Many are the plans in a person's heart." Anybody got plans? Anybody got goals? Nobody? Okay. I say somebody got to be ambitious about something. Oh, Nick back there, you like, "I got plans." He'd be like, "I'm about to have a daughter, I got so many plans." Daniel, like, "I'm about to have another kid, I'm going to work overtime." I'm just kidding. Many are the plans in a person. Are we have plans, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

My plan was to play D1 college football or basketball. I had offers. God's plan was not that. People ask me sometimes, "Do you regret getting hurt your senior year and losing everything that you worked for?" There is a time that I would say yes.

I'm sorry, but when I read Proverbs 19:21, and Proverbs is known as the book of wisdom, when I read, "Many are the plans in a person's heart," I think, how many hours did I spend going on 10-mile runs with my dad? How many hours did I put in in the weight room? How many terrible suffering diets did I go through so I could dunk a basketball or score touchdowns? That was my plan, but I fully believe that in 2024, that the Lord's purpose on my life is that I am in the Pacific Northwest and doing what he has called me to do, and it has nothing to do with football or basketball. It has everything to do with the Kingdom of Heaven being at hand. That his purpose wasn't for me to be a professional athlete or a rock star. When I didn't become a professional athlete, I tried to be a rock star. I learned how to play the guitar pretty quick, and I just kind of faked it till I made it. I didn't even make it, so I just faked it. So today, people are like, "I get, you know, have the opportunity to do worship seminars and stuff." I was a worship pastor for a few years, and even then, people would be like, I'd get on the keys and I'd just play something I learned on YouTube that week, and people would come and be like, "You're so anointed on those keys." Like, I don't even know what I'm doing. My plan is to know what I'm doing, but the Lord's purpose is that he gets all the honor and the glory, no matter what. So it doesn't matter if I feel like I'm faking it. If he's getting the honor and the glory, that's the Lord's purpose, and it's his purpose that prevails, not our plans.

God made us so that we could make known who he is. It was never about our opinions, our feelings, or what we believe is correct or not correct. We either believe the whole word of God or none of it. And if the Bible speaks against it, like I said earlier, our opinions don't matter. If it doesn't line up with the word of God, you can sit there and try to justify me until you run out of breath in your lungs. Your opinion doesn't matter.

I've sat at a table with my family years ago. They've always just known this about me. I sat at a table with my wife's family, and I said, "I don't care about your opinion." That ruffles feathers. I've never seen some—I'm sorry, I'm going to say it. I'm going to do it. We'll talk about it later. I've never seen somebody slouch down in their seat so far that whenever I went around her whole family table and said, "I don't care about any of y'all's opinions. If you give me your opinion, I'm going to throw it in the trash. If it doesn't—if you talk to me, if you come at me, it better align with the word of God. And I'm telling you right now, her family knows. I will be quick to say, 'That's not in the Bible. Am I right, or am I right?'" She just wants to say, she's like, "What are you doing? Is this family?" It's okay. I'll be the first one to look at my sister-in-laws or my brother-in-laws and say, "Show it to me." All—it's just your opinion. Don't come at me with your opinion. You can give me wisdom. I'll take wisdom all day long. If you've been married for at least 10 years or more, please email me all of your thoughts. I've only been married six months, but if it doesn't align with the word of God, I will hit delete on that email so fast. I stand by this thing. I live by this thing. I try my best. I fall. I'm not perfect. She will be the first to tell you that I mess up on a daily basis, but I don't believe that there's ever been a day where I haven't lived in a heart of repentance. Why? Because I have to. Because my identity is every page in this book. My identity is every word that's written down in this book, and I won't accept anything less.

God is unchanging. He's reliable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If God wasn't okay with it then, he's not going to be okay with it now. If God wasn't okay with your sin 2,000 years ago, he's not going to automatically say, "You know what, you're right. It's 2024, so I'll let that slide." False. That's a lie from the pits of hell. If he wasn't okay with it then, we sing songs like, "You are the same God." If we believe that he's the same God, then we understand that if he wasn't okay with it back then, if he wasn't okay with it a year ago, two years ago, 2,000 years ago, he's not going to automatically just randomly be okay with it in 2024.

And I see all over the news and I see all over places the things that the public school system is allowing to happen, that the lies of the enemy are teaching the Next Generation.

And I stand as a youth pastor and a young adult pastor, and I just stand as not a pastor but as a person who loves Jesus that I refuse to let the Next Generation come up to tolerate anything less than what's in this book.

The Bible says that we are created in God's image; we read it in Genesis 1:27. Humankind was created to reflect the attributes of God. That's why we were created - to reflect Him, to live for Him. We weren't created for ourselves. If we find our identity in Him, we will never ultimately be let down because He has proven time and time again to be trustworthy. Psalms 89:14 says righteousness and Justice are the foundation of your throne. I didn't give it to you guys. If y'all are scrambling back there, this is just from the top of the Nugget here. I mean, I wrote it down, 89:14, Psalms 89:14, write that down if you need to fact-check me later.

Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of your throne. That's the foundation of the Throne of God. It's righteousness and Justice. It doesn't say that righteousness and Justice are just in there, in the mix. It says it's the foundation. God is love; He loves you, yes, amen, but that's not the foundation. The foundation is righteousness and Justice. God is love, but we cannot forget that He is also righteous and just, and that one day we will be held accountable for the way that we lived our life on Earth.

We can stand up all over this room real quick, and I'll end with this. Come on, stand with me. We cannot forget. Come on, every eye closed, head bowed. Come on, if you're in this room tonight and you're just saying, you know what, I've kind of slipped into the ways of the world, I've kind of begun to just decide to live for myself. Or if you're in this room and you're saying, you know what, I don't have a relationship with Jesus, but I feel a tugging on my heart tonight to say, you know what, it's time that I find my identity in Jesus and start to refuse to look for my identity in the things of the world. Just lift your hand. Come on, every eye closed, every head bowed, just lift your hand if that's you tonight.

Father, Father God, come on, if this is your first time giving your life to Jesus, I just, I usually just ask everybody just to repeat after me. Come on, we do this as a family at our church, so we'll do it as a family here. Dear Jesus, I come to you as a sinner, and I'm done living in sin. I believe that you died for me on a cross and that you defeated the grave and rose again three days later. I give you my life. I will deny myself and surrender to your will in Jesus's Mighty and matchless name, amen.

Father, I just lift up the person that said, you know what, I'm tired of looking for my identity in the world. God, I just declare boldness and strength to begin to look for their identity in You, that whenever that attack comes, whenever that temptation falls or comes at me, that I can declare the name of Jesus and it will fall.

God, we thank you, we thank you for love, we thank you for mercy, we thank you for grace, but we also love you for being righteous and for being just. Thank you, God, for all that you've done. Father, I pray for that person right now that is struggling, that is struggling with that identity, whenever they look into the mirror, that they would remember, that they would go home tonight and they would look in the mirror and they would be able to say, I am a child of the one true God, I was created in His image, and I am beautifully and wonderfully made.

Father, we thank you, we love you, and we are honored to get to worship you tonight in Jesus's Mighty and matchless name, amen.

-Pastor Ricky Bishop


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