This was a great call to consider who we are in Jesus. Bill Potter is a fabulous speaker and a renowned historian. He brought forward a convicting call to walk in a manner that matches our testimony. Yet we were also reminded that this is only possible through the power of the Cross. Again, this is “live” blogging from the 2010 Men’s Advance. These are just my rough notes. I encourage you to consider joining us here in 2011!
We will fight many of the same battles as the days go on – like a continual Groundhog Day
James 4:1-2 – where the battles that attack us from the inside come
What is identity? Who am I? Identity is a topic mentioned in the world. Often identity theft – 1 in 10 US consumers have had this happen – 1.6 million households experience fraud – but, the $31 billion lost in identity theft is not the real battle for identity – at least for the Christian. Our identity is stolen by ourselves and our sinfulness.
What is our identity? Our given name at birth defines us – but it is deeper – our character, or view of the world, who we are as well
As Christians, our identity must be based on Jesus – our relationship with Him – 1 John 3:1-3 – we are called the sons of God – we shall see Him, we will be like Him – what a promise!
Phil 2:14-15 – we are to shine as lights in the world – our identity was with Satan, now it is to be with God – our first identity is as Christians – we are identified with Jesus
When someone hears our name, do they think of Jesus? This is a powerful question for each of us.
As a child, Bill’s parents would tell him that the only Jesus some of his friends would see was the Jesus in him, he carried the name of Jesus and the name of Potter. Do our children carry this as well? Do we tell our children who they represent? When they are on Facebook, do they know who they represent?
Battle for identity takes place in different ways. Consider David’s Mighty Men, especially Benia – a multi-generational tough guy – slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day – these men were known for deeds of valor – how are we known?
The ways we are most often known is in our calling – God has a calling for each Christian – he has first called us to be sons of God, what else has He called us to be and to do?
Eph 6:1-3 – young men, you are to be the son of your parents – but we are all called to be sons of our parents – it is right to honor father and mother – how many times have you heard that? But it is just as right 2000 years ago as it is now – there is a responsibility to honor – older men, this is our calling as well, even if our father is an unbeliever and hostile to the faith, we still have a calling to honor – we are to be faithful, and to be sons
Another, (Eph 5) for those married, to be a husband to a wife – to love our wives as Christ loves His church – it is a calling – we are to make this an important part of our lives – part of our identity – how do we treat our wives, how do we live out our calling as husbands? It is a convicting thing to consider – what do people think when they see us as a couple? Problems in marriage often start with the failing of a husband to love his wife.
Eph 6:4 – those with children, we are called to be a loving father – it takes time, it takes effort – it is to be part of our identity
When other things take priority, we are out of balance – and our identity is skewed.
1 Tim 3:1-13 – some are called to be elders and deacons – it is a calling, it is part of our identity.
What is your calling? Chemical engineer, historian, cook, pastor – God gives us a calling that is a vocation – that is a divine moment, something we are to do well (1 Cor 10:31) – we are to act as His children in all the callings He gives us.
Enemies to our identity represented in Scripture are the world, the flesh and the devil – our flesh makes us lazy, the devil and the world also cause us to be separated from our calling – we see it in our leisure time (TV, video games, board games, a good book) some of this is good, but do they become a priority where our leisure time becomes our identity.
Work can become an identity where we get out of balance – many men allow this to consume them to the expense of their family.
Our electronic world can rob our identity – the book The Dumbest Generation (Mark Bauerlein) shows how medium of the internet – children cannot pull together thoughts, they don’t know history - their identity is created and molded in cyberspace – they don’t read, they spend time on social networks – they don’t have a work ethic – they can’t read – they can’t focus – they don’t vote – are we seeking our identity online?
Story of Archibald Gracie – Archibald was a famous name (means Genuine and Bold) – came to the US in 1784 from Scotland – the war ended with Britain – the Scots took advantage of the freedoms and free enterprise – lost much in war of 1812.
Son (Archibald Jr) went into banking – build a beautiful mansion in Manhattan (mayors of NY still live there) – moved to Mobile, AL
Son (Archibald III), sent to Europe to study, graduated from West Point and sent out west – went to West Point with many who would be generals in the War Between the States – married a Virginian – when Alabama succeeded, he served in the Confederacy – few battles – Gracie put into the reserve of the Army of Tennessee (Battle of Chickamauga) – Gracie’s brigade brought forward at Snodgrass Hill – an untested brigade with superior weapons and solid defenses – but Gracie had trained his men for such an hour – at 40 paces, the Yankees delivered a blistering volley – but Gracie’s men continued to press forward – 31 year old Archibald Gracie stayed with his men – the loss of life was incredible, likened to Picket’s Charge – Gracie was a Christian man – sent to fight with General Lee – came to the aid of Petersburg at the nick of time – his brigade was placed in the most exposed position in the line – at one time, General Lee came to visit the line and stood up to observe the Union line, Gracie interposed himself between Lee and the Union lines to protect Lee – He was killed in that battle, the day before, he had been at the baptism of their youngest daughter.
His six year old son was Archibald as well (Archibald IV) – son, mother and sisters moved to NYC with Archibald II – but the mother committed to tell the children of their deceased father throughout their years – Archie IV was raised in the upper class of the NY community, but he still wanted to be the son of his father – he wanted to be a soldier – received an appointment to West Point, and failed math – entered the real estate business and made millions of dollars, but the memory of his father was never far from him – the Christian testimony and the leadership of his father – Archibald IV married Constant Schock, fathering four children – known as a good businessman – took family to Petersburg to see where his father died – wanted to write a two volume account on the Battle of Chickamauga – wrote one volume – traveled to Europe for vacation – was to return on the RMS Titanic – the ship struck an iceberg – Archibald Gracie, as he boarded the ship, saw two young women unescorted – Gracie offered to escort them – when the ship struck the iceberg, he found the girls, gave one his life jacket, and loaded them on to a life boat – Gracie helped many women and children onto the boats, including Mrs Astor – he put as many women and children as he could on the life boats – as the ship began to go down, there was one woman who couldn’t get down with her baby – he helped her as the ship went down – he went down with the ship – he fought to come up – inflatable B was there – he got on and took command – these men were rescued by the Carpathia – he testified before congress – wrote a book on the Titanic – and died shortly later – people knew that Gracie saved many through his efforts – at the last point in his life, he found his identity – he learned what it meant to be a man and a leader from the stories of his father – but then, came his hour – he didn’t even think about what he was doing – he just got about the work before him – he saved as many men and women as he could
This is the way it is with us – as we live before Jesus, as we live with Jesus – this is to be our identity – obedient lives, fulfilling our callings, when the crises come, the reaction will be automatic – for godliness to come to us when we need it, we must practice it – it needs to be part of who we are – is it built into us? Is it built into our sons? Do we know this is our identity? The more we learn His Word, the more automatic it will be – it is right because God has told us to do it – the more we can withstand the temptations of life
James 4 – the solution to the attacks on our identity starts with prayer – the more we obey Jesus, the more we will be successful in living our true identity – we live in the carnival, in vanity faire, but we can live successful, even in this world, when we live for Jesus – we need to be about or Father’s business – we need to be about our callings.
- How does your “Identity” affect your behavior, speech, attitudes, and outlook on the future?
- What does Jesus mean by the colorful expression “I am the vine; you are the branches.”?
- What should a Christian man “be strong and courageous” about? Discuss several examples.
- How do “The Archibald Gracies” illustrate the concept of “Identity” for the Christian man?