Identity in Christ

by Tim Isbell   1/2015

Disappointments, insecurities, and shame stifle our joy and fruitfulness. Such feelings arise from personal failure, inadequate skills, our appearance, guilt or shame, our family of origin, someone's opinion about us - or even our cultural background. Perhaps we grew up in a demanding family where we never satisfied a parent. For some of us, our insecurity comes naturally from our psychological makeup. Regardless of the origin, we desire the freedom to lead a joyful, productive life.

Help comes in two forms: Swing Thoughts and Personal Identity Scriptures

Before golfers go out to play, they embed in their heads one or two Swing Thoughts for each type of shot (full swing, pitch, chip, putting). In their pre-shot routine, they mentally recite these swing thoughts. For example, when putting the thought might be: keep head and hips completely still throughout the putt. This “centers” their whole self on an important element of a good putt.

So one form of help in this paper comes from a list of Swing Thoughts for daily life - succinct thoughts to embed in our heads that help us stay centered all day. These derive from Christian music lyrics, writers, and speakers we have heard. We can use the same swing thought for a day or a week, just letting it play in the background. It will center us.

  • Here’s one that works for me: God is in control, despite all appearances to the contrary. This is what I believe. This is what I have seen. This is what I have to offer the world.
The second form of help is Personal Identity Scriptures. A few weeks ago I noticed some particular passages in the biblical book of Romans that are clearly intended to tell Christ-following readers who they are in Christ. But the passages are written to a general audience, not directly to the reader. So I rewrote them to address me specifically. I find that God’s Spirit uses these to declare to me my true identity. After all, who better to tell me who I am than the God who created me?

The mechanics for this are simple. Usually, it just takes changing some pronouns from “we” and “you” to “I” and “me.” Sometimes it takes a little more. Then when I read these scriptures, especially when I read them aloud, they speak much deeper to me than the original text. I can invoke them whenever I find my identity starting to slip. Or I can make a routine to revisit the same one(s) every day for a week, and then move to others. Or I can develop some other pattern. When my identity has faded, I can sit down and read them all.

Here’s an example of one such modified scripture using Romans 6.5, from the New Living Translation:

  • Original: Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.
  • Modified: Since I have been united with Jesus in his death, I will also be raised to life as he was.

This advice seems ridiculously simple, and just as simple to implement. So give it a try. You'll be surprised at how God uses it to inform your identity.

The following text box contains my lists of Swing Thoughts and Personal Identity Scriptures. I’m sure the Lord will bless you through the process. You can download the Google Doc in various formats by clicking on Swing Thoughts & Personal Identity Scriptures, or by typing just into any browser.

Swing Thoughts & Identity Scriptures


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