who ARE you? part 1 the concept of personal identity

Who am I?  Who are you?  How do you identify yourself?  How do I know who you are?  But most importantly, who does God say you are?

A great deal of mankind’s philosophizing centers around some of life’s most basic questions.  They are very familiar questions that nearly everyone contemplates at some time in their life; from the most common of men to the most learned.

  • Where did we come from? (Where are we going?)
  • How did we get here?  (What or Who caused us?)
  • Why do I exist?  (What is my purpose for “being”?)
  • Who am I?  (What is my identity?)

For many, trying to find those answers seems allusive and daunting.  Yet, though the questions are elementary, the answers are huge and impacting.  Those answers would give us our place.  They would help us find our station in the grand scheme – how we fit into all of “this” stuff.  Perhaps we could even find out if we matter; if we have value.

We really don’t like not knowing those answers.  That is why so many philosophers and song-writers and poets have attempted to answer them.  It is why billions of dollars are spent on searching the cosmos (Where did we come from?) and billions more on researching everything we can about man’s behavior and makeup (Just who are we anyway?).

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God…

Not having these answers is uncomfortable, if we are to honest with ourselves.  This may be why so many people do not like being alone; especially when it is quiet.  In those moments we find ourselves alone with our SELF, and since we don’t have an answer to who we are, we are left with the strangest stranger of all – ourselves!  The modern world has come up with all kinds of gadgetry to help us refrain from dealing with that awkward silence.  There are scores of music, endless movies, mindless sitcoms, along with every means imaginable to access them, so that we never have to think about such uncomfortable things.  However God wants us to ponder these things, and then turn to Him to get His answers on them (Mat 7:7 …seek and ye shall find).

What I am talking about is you having, as well as you understanding, your personal identity.  “Who are you?’ can also be asked this way, “Can you identify yourself?”  For years I discounted such questions.  Somehow I was taught that this thing called “Personal Identity” was nonsensical.  After all, I knew where I came from – God made me.  I knew where I was going – thanks to Christ, Heaven.  I knew why I existed – to serve Him and bring Him glory.  End of it.  However, though I may have had the basics to those questions, I could not answer that last one at all – Who am I?

I have only recently discovered the answer to that question, and I am blown away by it.  It was there all the time, but because of my religiosity I looked right past it!  Like so many things that are right in front of our faces, I trampled over it  The answer to that question has been there ever since I received Christ as my Savior.  I am excited by this answer and it has changed my life.

Who am I?  I am a child of the Most High, the Creator Himself!  THAT is WHO I am!

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

the hope for this blog

How did it happen?  When did I go from enjoying the simplicity of my salvation, to becoming a religious zealot?  How did cultic ideology creep into my Christianity?  How in the world did I succumb to using manipulative tactics, instead of relying on the Holy Spirit in my ministry?  And the big question!  HOW DID I BECOME A PHARISEE?

The answer to each of those questions is this: When I quit walking with Jesus.

I am not an expert in anything.  I mean that.  I have a college degree (in Pastoral Theology nonetheless), but in those four years of college I was merely introduced to a myriad of topics, ideas, and concepts.  I have yet to master any of them.  Over the years I have read a few good books, watched some great Christian videos, and browsed many websites.  And yet in all of that “research” and accumulation of knowledge, I somehow managed to miss the most profound, as well as the most wonderful aspect of all the things that we should attain as Christians.  One could probably describe that missing element in several different ways, but for me it is best put this way; WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT HIM.

For over a quarter of century I strove to live FOR God, but I am just now beginning to grasp what it means to live WITH Him.  I gave my life to the ministry.  I poured my heart into the churches I attempted to pastor.  However, I never gave myself to Him.  Living in my own power and initiative finally took its toll and there was a great fall; a “morale failure” as some kindly phrase it.  When the dust settled there were many hurt people, a heartbroken family, and a dazed man left asking many questions; like the ones at the beginning of this entry.

Through it all God has proven Himself very faithful to me.  When I least deserved His help He came to me.  Everyday He shows me something, or introduces me to someone, or gives me some song, or speaks some truth into my life that causes me to just look up at Him and say, “YOU are truly marvelous!”  He continues to bring me healing.  He is in the process of restoring my family.  And most recently He has allowed me to minister again, but this time with an entirely new motive and in a new way – His.

No, I am not an expert.  I just want to capture what He is showing me and share it, and that is the purpose of this blog.  It is my hope that the things that God is doing in my life may in turn help, or bless, or encourage you… or someone you know.  I hope that my incredible children, and my grandchildren, and any of my wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who want to, can look at these things and agree that God is good and merciful, and true and faithful.  THEN I hope that He is rightfully praised and worshiped and adored.

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit:

….for apart from me you can do nothing.